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Land Rover Series III | Spotted

Unconvinced by the Defender, new and old? Right this way, sir...

By Dafydd Wood / Wednesday, March 25, 2020

So the new Defender is here. That may seem like a statement you’ve read multiple times over the last few months and years, the long-awaited replacement for one of motoring’s most iconic vehicles having been followed intently since 2011, right through its design, testing and production phases. But now the reviews are in, and the first customers should be getting their cars - all things being well - by the summer.

If it isn’t your cup of tea, though, then you needn’t fret, there are over 380 Series I, II, III and previous-gen Defender models for sale in the classifieds. But which to choose? There’s no question that the new Landie is capable, but if you take issue with its expense or relative chintziness compared to the old car, then there are plenty of go-anywhere, workhorse machines available, like this diesel 90 van.

If your issue is more philosophical than that, though, a problem with a perceived straying of the new car from the heritage of its forebears, then a Series model is the only way to go. Even here, however, choices abound. The Series I is where the Land Rover legend began, with HUE 166 and its 1.6-litre, 51hp petrol engine. A true classic, it represents arguably the most collectable of the bloodline, if not necessarily the best for frequent use.

The Series II, meanwhile, remains one of the most fun vehicles I’ve ever driven, as well as one of the worst. Impossibly vague steering, a gearbox like a 9-iron in a bowl of corn starch and the refinement of a tumble dryer, it also never failed to bring a smile to my face, or to tackle bumpy off-road terrain in manner which belied its 60-year age.

Which brings us to the Series III, and today’s Spotted. The III retains a lot of the heritage charm of the prior Series models, but with a good deal more refinement and usability to boot. The steering is more accurate and it boasts synchromesh on all its gears, though reliability can still be somewhat lacking… Which is why it’s best to buy a restored example.

Shouty headings usually condemn an ad before it’s even been viewed, but it’s hard to disagree with this seller’s assessment of their 1979 109 LWB Station Wagon as being “cool cool cool”. Having been stripped down and restored from the bottom up, the chassis, running gear and bodywork all look to be in excellent condition. The engine has also been “rebuilt and reconditioned”, while the interior has received new upholstery throughout.? The incredibly thorough ad spares no detail in explaining exactly what went into bringing this car up to the standard it’s in, meaning that the only effort you should need to go to is reading it and then picking up the phone.

2,250cc four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: four-speed manual, two-speed transfer, selectable four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 73
Torque (lb ft): 114
CO2: N/A
Recorded mileage: 64,000
First registered: 1980
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £19,999

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