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By the late 1960s, it was clear that updates to the Series IIa models were required. In 1968, Rover had become part of the government owned British Leyland Motor Corporation (B.L.M.C.). Cash was limited, hence in 1971, when the Series IIa was replaced by the Series III, it was an evolution of the Series IIa design, rather than a complete revamp.

Land Rover Series III

1976 88 inch Series III - Picture by Dave Neeson

The most significant change was the replacement of the gearbox with a completely new unit that incorporated synchromesh on all forward gears. The ratios were also revised, with lower reverse and first gears. The low range ratio was also reduced. Clutch design was also modified to include a diaphragm spring, resulting in smoother and quieter gear changes. Brakes were also improved and a heavy duty Salisbury rear axle was fitted as standard to all 6 cylinder vehicles. From 1972, the Salisbury axle became a standard fitment on all long wheelbase (109 inch) vehicles. The electrical system was also upgraded with the dynamo being replaced by an alternator.

The body remained virtually unchanged, although the now traditional metal grille was replaced with a plastic item designed to match the new headlamp position introduced on the later IIa vehicles. Although there were few external changes, the Series III looked very different on the inside. The door interiors were upholstered, and a much-improved heater was fitted. The 2.25 litre petrol engine had its compression raised from 7:1 to 8:1, increasing the power slightly (the high compression engine had been an optional fit on the IIa model for several years). In keeping with early 1970s trends in automotive interior design, both in safety and use of more advanced materials, the simple metal dashboard of earlier models was redesigned to accept a new moulded plastic dash. The instrument cluster, which was previously centrally located, was moved to the driver's side. The Series III retained the same body and engine options as the preceding IIa, including Station Wagon and One Ton versions.

In 1980 the 4-cylinder 2.25 litre engines (both petrol and diesel) were updated with 5-bearing crankshafts to increase strength in heavy duty work. At the same time the transmission, axles and wheel hubs were re-designed for increased strength. New trim options were introduced to make the interior more comfortable if the buyer so wished. These changes culminated in 1982 with the introduction of the 'County' specification Station Wagon Land-Rovers, available in both 88 inch (3 door) and 109 inch (5 door) types. These had all-new cloth seats, soundproofing kits, tinted glass and other 'soft' options designed to appeal to the leisure user. Of more interest was the introduction of the High Capacity Pick Up (HCPU) to the 109 inch chassis. This was a pick-up truck load bay that offered 25% more cubic capacity than the standard pick-up style. The HCPU came with heavy-duty suspension and was popular with public utility companies and building contractors.

The Series III is the most common of the Series vehicles, with 440,000 of the type built from 1971 to 1985. In 1976, during the Series III production run, the 1,000,000th Land-Rover rolled off the production line.

The 1 Millionth Land Rover
The 1 Millionth Land Rover.

Stage One

In 1979, the Range Rover's 3.5 litre V8 engine and transmission equipment were fitted to the Series III 109 inch model to produce the "Stage 1". This combined the extra power of the Rover V8 with the load-space and indestructibility of the Series III long wheelbase Land-Rover. The LT95 4-speed full-time 4WD gearbox was used, but the power output of the V8 was reduced to match the 109 inch application. The radiator and grille had to be moved forward to fit the V8 into the engine bay, resulting in a vehicle that looks more like the later Defender model.

Series III 88 inch
Production: 1971-1985
Overall Length: 142.4 inches (3617mm)
Overall Width: 66 inches (1676mm)
Wheelbase: 88 inches (2235mm)
Track: 52.52 inches (1330mm)
Engine: Rover 2.25 diesel (1971-1985) Rover 2.25 Petrol (1971-1985)
Transmission: 9.5 inch hydraulic clutch,  4-speed main gearbox, 2-speed transfer box,  selectable with standard rear wheel drive or 4WD.
Suspension: Live axles with semi-eliptic leaf springs and hydraulic telescopic dampers.
Steering: Recirculating ball. worm-and-nut.
Braking: Drums all around, mechanical parking brake on the transmission output shaft.

Series III 109 inch
Production: 1971-1985
Overall Length: 175 inches (4445mm)
Overall Width: 66 inches (1676mm)
Wheelbase: 109 inches (2769mm)
Track: 52.52 inches (1330mm)
Engine: Rover 2.25 diesel (1971-1985) Rover 2.25 Petrol (1971-1985) Rover 2.6 Petrol (1971-1979) Rover 3.5 Petrol (1979-1985)
Transmission: 9.5 inch Hydraulic clutch,  4-speed main gearbox, 2-speed transfer box,  selectable with standard rear wheel drive or 4WD.
Suspension: Live axles with semi-eliptic leaf springs and hydraulic telescopic dampers.
Steering: Recirculating ball. worm-and-nut.
Braking: Drums all around, mechanical parking brake on the transmission output shaft.

Club Link: Land-Rover Series III, 90 and 110 Owners Club

Club Link: Land-Rover Series 3 Club

If you can help out with more information about Series III Land-Rovers, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Series III pictures

Benjamin Hoidge's Series III
Benjamin Hodge's Series III in it's natural habitat.

Military spec. Land Rover Series III
FFR (Fitted For Radio) Military Spec. Land-Rover Series III
Picture by Dave Neeson (Gaydon 2008).

Series III in Iceland
Series III in Iceland.

Daniel Plummer's 1982 2.25 petrol Series III HCPU.
Daniel Plummer's 1982 2.25 petrol Series III HCPU.

Valentino Ghi's Series III Station Wagon.
Valentino Ghi's Series III SWB Station Wagon.

Valentino Ghi's swb Station Wagon

Mete Gurel's Series III.
Mete Gurel's Series III.

 Series III Land Rover

   
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