1971-85 Land Rover Series III 4×4 Review

Read our concise review of the 1971-85 Land Rover Series III...

1971-85 Land Rover Series III 4x4 Review

by Calum Brown |

What to consider when buying a series 3

Here are our top tips on things to consider when buying a Series 3. Discuss prospective buys on our message boards, too.

For the definitive view get an LRO buying guide. See below for details.


2.6 petrol - The 2.6-litre Rover straight six (109 models only) is wonderful, but it exacts a heavy price - 12mpg. When thrashed, the rear of the engine can overheat, causing wear.

V8 petrol - Rover's V8 is equally thirsty. In standard tune it puts out 95bhp but you can get more power and economy if the restrictor plate between carb and manifold is removed. If there's a rattling it probably means you need a new cam and followers.

Four-cylinder petrol - The 2.25-litre four-cylinder petrol unit is the most numberous in Series IIIs. This wasn't designed for unleaded fuels; for regular use it's sensible to have hardened valve seats fitted.

Other things to look out for include the water pump - you may hear it squeaking or you can feel if it's loose.

Youwon't come across many Series diesels now, and if you do yu can bet they'll be smokey. Putting in a new set of injectors can make a big difference, or you might try fuel additives.

A four-cylinder petrol engine is best for most people. They're tough and simple - and if it all goes wrong, fixable or replaceable at reasonable cost.


Stage 1 V8 models used the Range Rover's LT95 combined gearbox and transfer box. All other models use the conventional three-lever gearbox/transfer box system common to Series Land Rovers, though in full-synchromesh form. They're regarded as not so tough as earlier gearboxes. Be cautious of vehicles used heavily laden or for pulling trailers.

Towing wears clutches too. If there's a horrible screaming from the clutch it's the release bearing. If it whines in first, second and third but not top, that'll be the layshaft bearings.

Suspension / Wheels / Tyres

Leaf springs are often rusted solid and rust-blown. Check edges for cracks. If you get a crunching and clicking and it feels a bit loose on the ride that means worn bushes - an MoT fail.


It's almost inevitable that the brake fluid hasn't been changed for years, even though the recommended interval is every 19 months or 18,000 miles. It rusts the brake cylinders if not done.

Check brake pipes for corrosion and leaky joints.

On the test drive check it stops quickly without excessive pedal pressure, and pulls up straight.


The steering box could be worn if it has lost oil - check underneath for leakage. The steering relay can leak too and is rarely topped up. Relays don't cost much but they're often rusted in place which means the chassis might have to be cut to extrsct it.

Don't ignore stiffness - dealing with the steering idler is one of the worst Series III jobs.


Electrics are straightforward, though often bodged of neglected - simple to fix, though. Biggest cost would be new loom sections, if required.

The other bg electrical problem is bad earthing. Front panels never seem to earth properly so then you have no front lights. This can all be fixed by cleaning the terminals and bulb holders.

Bodywork and trim

The chassisand bulkhead absolutely must be good or walk away. Straight panelwork and good galvanising are desirable too. Original galvanising is a bonus but non-original colours let them down.

Always check the rear crossmember and front dumb irons. Any repairs should be decent, not 1mm tin! The bulkhead's also troublesome - they rust in the door pillars and top corners.

Door-tops rust, so push-pull the tops, checking for movement and rusty crunching noises. On the 109-inch Station Wagons check the steel 'B' pillar very carefully - welded repairs usually go wrong and replacements are expensive.

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