Turn back the clock to 2004 – I hadn’t long been married to Hannah, and we were still ebbing on the fringes of a proper countrified lifestyle. Her ideal transport was probably a pink Smart car, and although my mates all had Land Rovers when I was a teenager, I’d never been into them. Well, apart from a brief spell in 1990 with an early Range Rover, but the less said about that the better…
All this changed when we got our first house with land. A full three acres! And all lovely, green and grazed. Three months later it didn’t quite look so good – it was completely overgrown. We needed a tractor – but, in my infinite wisdom, I remembered some of the stuff I’d seen while growing up around Land Rovers. We wouldn’t have a tractor; we’d get a Land Rover and fit a power take-off (PTO).
A chum had a pretty – but fairly decrepit – Series II that was surplus to requirements, so I grabbed it. Realising that hanging a PTO off what was left of the chassis would have meant mechanical disaster, we got it going as a runaround and continued looking for our ‘tractor’.
The Series III we eventually got had belonged to a mate of ours, Pete, back in the 1990s – we had fond memories of him chugging around the streets of Surrey in it. It had always been pretty smart, so when Pete announced it was for sale in 2005 we snapped it up.
We had, however, forgotten about the intervening 13 years, which it had spent on his parents-in-law’s drive in Devon. Pete had half-stripped it ready for a rebuild that never happened, and it was a bit of a shock seeing it so forlorn. However – it did come with a lot
of spares, an overdrive and a private plate. And it wasn’t a lot of money….
Back home in Hampshire, we got stuck in. The rear crossmember and most outriggers were replaced, the body came off and the gearbox was replaced. The 2.25-litre diesel engine started first time with fresh oil, fuel and new glowplugs. The bulkhead had new footwells and top corners – and the SIII turned its own wheels again in September 2005.
We then threw it together to make it useable – the wings and bonnet waited another nine months! A PTO unit turned up in the free ads, but it was down at Minehead in Devon. A whole day in the car later and it was home and in place, and miraculously the farmer next door came up trumps with an ancient PTO-driven trailed mower. We were in business!
First time out, the mower blades disintegrated – second time, it managed the whole plot and even left stripes. The SIII would quite happily chug through grass as high as the radiator and kept the paddocks in shape for the next two years.
Then we decided to up sticks and downsize, moving to Pembrokeshire. The Land Rover was hastily finished – fitting up and painting the front end – before flying through an MoT. Downsizing is great and the SIII was still earning it’s keep, but it was a shame to keep damaging it around the farm. The PTO was swapped onto another, un-roadworthy Series, and the SIII passed to a chap in Southern Ireland early in 2008.
I can now get on with building the Land Rover of my dreams – a Tdi-powered, automatic Series IIA.
This owner review appeared in the January 2009 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.