Are you sure you want a series 3 Land Rover?
Hopefully this guide will help you decide, I am by no means an expert some of this is from experience. Some is from other sources.
The first decision you need to take is whether you really do want a Series Land Rover.
It is easy to get carried away, by these wonderful, incredible, marvellous beasts, with out fully considering what you are getting yourself into.
Many people have Series Land Rovers as weekend play things and they are truly superb vehicles for off roading, they are equally at home as serious competition vehicles or for the more gentle green laneing but if you decide, as I did, that you want it as an everyday vehicle, one that has to cope with the occasional foray off road along with plenty of short and long journeys on tarmac, you need to take into account that they were developed as utility vehicles, designed to go to market, cross fields and to carry out a variety of jobs on the farm that tractors do. Later many were adapted, very successfully, as expedition vehicles but, and it is a big but, they were not designed for comfort.
Series Land Rovers are slow and when it rains you discover that they are not water proof, nor are they wind proof, nor does the heater work very well in the winter and in the summer they can get quite hot.
permanent 4 wheel drive it needs to be selected.
Finally, remember to put a reasonable amount of money aside for repairs. It is easy to spend all your hard-earned cash on a wonderful Land Rover (or any other kind of vehicle) only to find that it requires more money to repair it! If it does not need the money immediately, it might well require it when the MoT comes along.
Some Jargon (technical names)
Hard top - A hard top Land Rover is essentially a van. The name comes from the fact that the roof over the load area is made of metal (hard) rather than canvas (soft).
Soft Top - A soft top Land Rover (rag top) has a removable canvas top, which goes over the driving compartment and the rear (load area) of the Land Rover. It is supported by metal poles known as hood sticks.
Tilt - The canvas top is known as a tilt. A full tilt covers the driving area and the rear, where as a three-quarter tilt only covers the rear. This requires the Land Rover to have a metal truck cab.
Truck Cab - Truck cab models are the Land Rover equivalent of a pick up.
Station Wagon - Station Wagons are passenger-carrying versions of the Land Rover utilities. The short-wheelbase models usually seat seven, and the long-wheelbase ones seat 10 or 12.
All Land Rovers make excellent off road vehicles but the short wheel base models have an advantage over the long wheel base models as they are more agile and less likely to belly out. If you are using your Land Rover for off roading remember that it can be damaging and you will sustain anything from a few scratches on the paint work to far more serious problems like smashed differential housings or damaged steering components. These are extreme examples but a certain amount of damage is inevitable.
Window hard top - For some overseas models, Land Rover has built hard top models with windows in the van sides, which allows the load bed to be used for carrying passengers. They are rare in Britain.
Window soft-top - the difference is that this has a canvas tilt either full or three-quarter type with windows.
Wheelbase - The wheelbase is the distance between the axle centres. Land Rovers have traditionally been known by their wheelbase sizes: thus, the names of 80", 107", 130", and so on refer to this dimension. Since 1953, there have been both long and short wheelbase Land Rovers (and some special types have had ultra-long wheelbases, too). The longer the wheelbase, the longer the vehicle and therefore the more room it has for passengers or cargo.
Look Out For
BODY WORK Other than major dents, the main panels will not have suffered from major corrosion, but the door frames could. Give them a shake to see if they are loose, as well as checking for excessive lateral and vertical play in the door hinges themselves. Moving to the bulkhead, if there is a lot of rust behind the dash panel or under the windscreen, it may be easier and cheaper to go and look for a different vehicle. Rusty footwells can be replaced relatively easily, however.
CHASSIS: Crawl under the vehicle and look for rot or cracks that have appeared on any parts of the ladder-frame. Carefully check all crossmembers tor any fresh welding, which could indicate accident damage at some stage. Underseal can often be used to cover up something you shouldn't be seeing, so be suspicious. At least a plain-painted or bare metal chassis will give you a good indication as to what condition it is in.Rot-prone areas include the outriggers (look for plating), rear crossmember and rear spring shackles. A new chassis can cost anything from £ 600 for an 88-inch to £ 1000 for a 109-inch, but buying second- hand or repair are cheaper options.
SUSPENSION: Look from the front to see if the vehicle is sagging to one side. If it is, you will either need to have new leaf springs fitted - or check that the left and right springs have been fitted the right way round. If the leafs are starting to spread (ie there is a gap between them), then it's a clear indication they are on their way out. Also, the spring hanger should be at 45 degrees. If it's more severe than this, it's time to fit new springs. Again, give yourself an idea of how much a complete set of replacement springs will cost you before going to look at a vehicle, or start haggling about a price.
GEARBOX When you drive it, check that it doesn't jump out of second gear. If it does, it could be the detent springs need replacing, which is not a costly job, but definitely worth haggling over. Or it could be worn dogs, in which case it is probably easier to drop a reconditioned gearbox in than have the existing one repaired. You can get a replacement box for around £ 220, so providing you budget for this when haggling over the original price, it is not a major disaster. Note: a rattling sound you may hear while test-driving a Series 111 may not always mean gearbox troubles. Sometimes it's the prop-shaft Universal Joints that have become worn - so check underneath that the UJS are okay.
STEERING: It will never have the sensitivity of a car, but it shouldn't wander all over the road when trying to keep it in a straight line Also, you shouldn't require Superman muscles to go around a corner. When you release the steering wheel, it should centre itself back to its original position. If the steering is heavy, don't automatically assume it's the steering box. Often it's the front relay, which has often never had any oil put in it because of the difficulty getting at it, being underneath the dash panel and behind the horn. There should be no more than an" of play at the top of the steering wheel before the wheels start to move.
ENGINE: Check for excessive blue smoke on petrol or diesel models, which could indicate worn valve guide seals or bores. Also check for back pressure: run the engine before removing the oil filler cap-no smoke should come out. Timing chain noise is not a major problem, but best avoided. Excessive tappet noise can spell future problems- Also, look for signs of water leakage below the water pump, which indicates water pump seal has failed.
WHEELS: Get the vehicle supported on a jack so each free wheel you want to check is off the ground. Exert an up and down force on each tyre to check for wheel bearing play. Behind each front wheel, check the condition of the chrome ball in the swivel housing. A badly-pitted one will not be cheap to replace or get re-chromed, so point this out when it comes to arriving at a sale price.
BRAKES: Sllls have drum brakes on all four wheels and must be in first-class order to achieve decent stopping ability. Check for loose pipes and pulling to one side under braking.
V8's with excessive top end noise and leak oil.
1971 to 1986
There were more Series III Land Rovers built than any other leaf sprung model, 440,000, which makes finding a Series III easy, and to top it all the military have recently released a huge number of Series III's onto the market.
The County Station Wagons were only made for a short period of time and are therefore rarer, as are the Hi-Caps and the V8 Stage Is with their revised flush fitting matt black grills.
As with all the Series Land Rovers the changes between models were limited. In general Land Rovers evolve. The door and bonnet hinges were flatter, a new heater air intake appeared on the wing and, possibly the most obvious, a new ABS plastic grill adorned the front of this marvellous beast instead of the Series II's wire mesh grill.
On climbing into the cab the driver was presented with a new instrument panel, now placed in front of him instead of in the centre of the cab.
The suspension was improved and an all synchromesh gear box was fitted together with a 9.5" clutch.
On the electrical side to make the battery more accessible it was moved from under the seat to under the bonnet. A larger alternator was also fitted.
Series III's come with 88 and 109" wheel bases. The LWB could be bought with stiffer suspension, larger tyres and a one ton payload. From 1982 a 1.3 tonne version was also on sale with the new Hi-Cap (High Capacity Pick-Up) body.
As before you could also buy the standard soft tops, truck cabs, hard tops and station wagons. Extra de-lux trim was built into the new County Station Wagons from 1982.
A large number of Series III's have been professionally rebuilt and refurbished, often incorporating more modern features, mine was rebuilt by Warwick 4x4 and includes a coil sprung chassis. I could have bought a decent 90 with permanent four wheel drive for the same price but this way I was buying a vehicle with the Series III character and I knew I was getting a 'good' Land Rover which should last a life time,(although I did have to buy a new gear box within two years and I have now put in a 2.5L reconditioned engine from a 90, for more speed and comfort).
I must admit I do occasionally wonder whether a LWB station wagon would have been better. They look good, have loads of space, and are easy for passengers to get in and out of. The SWB has surprisingly little space inside, and they are not so easy for passengers to get in and out of. The side seats are not as safe as forward facing seats. I took the decision to fit forward facing seats but they are awkward in use and do take up a lot of room, reducing the rear seating capacity from four to two. They are also higher which reduces the visibility because of the angle.
It's not all bad though, the manoeuvrability of the SWB is a lot better, I park up between the garage and the house, a tight fit, no LWB could get in there, parking in town can be awkward for the huge LWB and on many Green Lanes a LWB really struggles with the tight bends. Off roading too can present difficulties for the LWB as they get stuck up on top of steep sided humps and down in steep sided ditches.
Fuel consumption and acceleration on the SWB is also a lot better.
Spares are easy to come by and are not excessively expensive.
Make sure you have chosen the correct engine, it is expensive to replace later on, I know I did it:-
2.25 Litre Diesel - 62bhp - 3 main bearings up to 1980, followed by five bearing engines afterwards.
2.25 Litre Petrol - 77bhp - 3 main bearings up to 1980, followed by five bearing engines afterwards.
2.6 Litre Petrol - 83bhp - 6 cylinder engine. Oil consumption on this engine is high, up to half a pint every 100 miles. This engine was replaced in 1989 by the 3.5 litre V8
3.5 Litre Petrol - 91bhp - 8 cylinder engine. This engine was put into the model generally known as the Stage One, although a few special orders did turn up in 88" chassis. It was a long wheel base (109" chassis) Land Rover.
SWB 1971 - '84 could cost between 750 to 3500ukp
SWB Stationwagon 1971 - '84 could cost between 1500 to 3500ukp
Lightweight 1968 - '83 could cost between 1500 to 4000ukp
Long wheelbase, 4cyl 1971 - '86 could cost between 1000 to 3000ukp
Long wheelbase, 6cyl 1971 - '79 could cost between 500 to 1500ukp
LWB Stationwagon 1971 - '86 could cost between 1500 to 4000ukp
SWB Stationwagon, V8 1979 - '84 could cost between 1750 to 4500ukp
As with all Land Rovers it is condition and practicality that governs the price, rarity does not really affect price yet.
Land Rover Buyers Guide (Series 3)
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1 May 2007
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