I guess it all started with my father. He bought a 1975 Series III when I was 11,
and when I was 12 I got a 1962 Series IIA SWB petrol named Burt.
After that I owned a few 300Tdi 110s; on the last of these I spent a fortune trying to get some reliable power out of the motor, but to no avail. It wasn’t long after one of these expensive power upgrades that I had my first experience of a 4BD1 Isuzu engine, as fitted to the Australian Army ‘Perentie’ Defenders. By the time you’ve fitted a turbo and an intercooler this motor pumps out a huge amount of power and torque, and eats a Land Rover gearbox for breakfast!
With this in mind I set out to find myself a Perentie 110, and found a late model in Perth, WA, promptly falling in love with it on the long drive back home to Broome. Sadly, the Land Rover had too much rust to be roadworthy. This is where the story really begins…
I stripped the 110, kept all the good bits and welded the engine mounts to a replacement galvanised chassis. In went the Isuzu engine, along with a turbo and the necessary plumbing. I sold the LT85 and fitted an LT95 four-speed gearbox (ex-Range Rover Classic) with an Australian modified taper roller set-up in the transfer case. It’s one of the few Land Rover gearboxes that’ll handle a tweaked Isuzu. After the third bulkhead I found one without too much rust, and the project began to take shape… then I ran out of motivation.
I bought myself a shipping container and went travelling for a considerable time – back across Australia to Perth, then on to Africa. I fell in love with the place and decided my Land Rover would end up here one day. On my return to Australia my motivation to finish the project returned, and the project began to take shape. The final spec includes Front Runner Gullwing doors, ARB locking diff, and Ashcroft CVs, halfshafts and flanges. Being able to drive it legally on the road for the first time on my birthday was one of the best presents ever!
Not long after registering the 110 I packed all my belongings into a container, threw my swag in the back of the Perentie and took off for a drive around Australia. I’ve now covered more than 13,000 miles, and the only problem I’ve had has been the radiator shroud catching the fan in the Snowy Mountains, Victoria. Off with the fan and out with the hacksaw… I was back on the road in less than an hour.
The only major thing I’ll change in the near future will be the gearing – perhaps with an R380 gearbox or an Isuzu box with an LT230 transfer case. At the moment the gearing is too short and at 70mph the engine is near screaming.
Long-term I hope to finish my drive around Australia, ship the 110 to Africa and head up to Europe. I hope to find some work in the UK for a couple of years then return home via Mongolia.
And I’m already thinking of my next project – an 80in Series I.
This owner review appeared in the December 2015 issue of LRO. Current and Back issues are available to download on digital devices here. Please note, we only hold stocks of the the last three back issues.