I’ve enjoyed a fractious but inseparable relationship with this Series IIA 109in for the past three years. When it turned up on eBay a few miles up the road, it was just the Land Rover I was looking for – plenty of room for travelling gear, tax-free to suit my tiny budget, and with some great historic character. Even better, the chassis was rock solid; a refreshing change after my earlier disintegrating Series III project.
It wasn’t perfect though. The previous owner had carried out a full rebuild, giving it a Series III face and a silver paint job, but he sadly died shortly after finishing the work. By the time I saw the vehicle, it had sat unused for three years and was still in need of a good shakedown. So with no MOT, a missing V5 document and an engine that refused to start, the seller parted with it for a realistic price.
Thanks to the lack of rust, the first MOT wasn’t too much of an ordeal. The 2.25l petrol engine took some fiddling, but when it finally did burst into life it turned out to be a lovely unit – smooth, quiet and always willing.
Well, nearly always. Our relationship went through a rough patch when the IIA began to suffer from spontaneous coughing fits, spluttering and backfiring its way onto the verge with increasing regularity. I eventually traced the problem to the distributor, but only after the IIA had convalesced in the garden for a year, gathering moss. Now the engine is dependable again but it’s never really recovered the silky smoothness it once had.
A few other gremlins have kept me busy over the years, but nothing too major – mostly leaks and rattles, a few service items, and faults caused by ropey wiring.
I’ve enhanced the cab with Defender seats and a SIII cubby box, and fitted a roof rack which I found going cheap on eBay. The grand plan is to adapt the 109 for some moderate overlanding, so I intend to get creative with the rear load area and maybe find a stronger roof rack. A winch and overdrive unit are on my wish list, but for now I’d just like to get the engine back to its former mellifluous glory.