This LRO reader emailed LRO.email@example.com seeking options to improve the fuel consumption for his Ninety V8.
I own a 1986 Ninety with a very nice, but thirsty, V8. Legislation here in Crete doesn’t allow petrol-to-diesel conversions, but will allow a different petrol engine to be fitted.
There was a lovely Defender on the South African market a few years back that had a BMW 2.8-litre, six-cylinder petrol engine. I’ve tried to trace a kit, or spares, to convert my Ninety. Any thoughts on a supplier - or any other ideas?
Michael Papyrakis, Crete
Land Rover in South Africa sold a Defender with a BMW M52 2.8-litre petrol engine from 1997 until 2000. It put out 190bhp and 207lb ft of torque (compared to the V8’s 134bhp and 186lb ft). Production ran to just over 1000 models, but Land Rover South Africa has done some digging for us and come up with the following mpg figures.
Urban - 13.6mpg.
Extra Urban - 23.2mpg.
Combined - 18.4mpg.
For comparison, a V8-equipped Ninety has a combined figure of 14.5mpg. On the face of it, the BMW six is better on fuel consumption, but there are easier ways to save 4mpg.
I don’t know of anyone offering a conversion kit to fit this engine in a Ninety/Defender, but most things are possible with a Land Rover. You’d need to speak with a local specialist to talk through the conversion. It’s going to get expensive, and it would be simpler and cheaper to trade in your V8 Ninety for a Tdi-powered version, particularly if fuel costs are paramount.
That said, there are still things that can be done to improve the fuel consumption in a standard 3.5-litre V8. I am not sure how the law and fuel prices stand in Crete, but in the UK the most effective way of making a V8 Land Rover more economical is to find an LPG conversion.
If this isn’t practical, all is not lost. Look at fitting an electric fan and a more efficient air cleaner, as well as ensuring that servicing and tuning are carried out conscientiously - even a couple of degrees out on the timing can make a difference.
A free-flowing exhaust system could make a difference - and if you don’t already have them on, fit road-biased tyres.
Look into converting to an EFi system. As a general rule, any gain in power will relate to an improvement in fuel consumption as long as you don’t use all the newly found power for extra performance.
This workshop advice appeared in the January 2014 issue of LRO. Back issues are available to download on digital devices here.