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Land Rover Series III Stage-1 (1979-1985)

The Land Rover stage-1 was so called because it was the first product of an investment programme that lead to the 90 and the 110 (later Defender D90 and D110). It was in effect what many Land Rover owners had been converting their standard SIII's into for many years - a SIII with a larger engine, in fact with the 3.5L V8 out of the Range Rover. The standard SIII gearbox could not really take this kind of power and torque, as the owners of home conversions often found out, so Land Rover fitted the Range Rover's LT95 full-time-4WD transmission too.

The V8's power was reduced because the SIII handling and brakes were not up to the engine's potential level of performance. This reduction was achieved mainly by fitting restrictor plates in the carburettor intakes. The result was only little more power than the old 2.6L 6-cylinder but still enough torque to pull 3.54:1 differentials. There is plenty of room for improvement.

The V8 was a tight squeeze in the SIII engine bay and was slightly tilted upwards at the front. The radiator was moved forwards and the grille made flush with the front edges of the mudguards. The front chassis cross-member was moved forwards too, and the mounting of the steering relay somewhat changed from the SIII. Many home-grown conversions had shoe-horned the V8 in without moving the grille etc. but the new arrangement left plenty of room for a large AC Delco cyclone air cleaner under the bonnet. The bonnet (hood) was of course longer than the SIII's, rounded at the front and wraping around at the leading edge. It seems to have been carried into the 90/110 model range essentially unchanged.

The number two chassis cross-member of the SIII was deleted and the small cross-member under the transmission made removable to help in getting the gearbox out - the latter is a useful modification for earlier "series" Land Rovers. The cross-member immediately behind the transmission was modified to allow the rear prop-shaft to pass.

Because the engine was tilted up, the gearbox output shafts are not quite parallel with the diff' input shafts so a double-Hookes c.v. joint was fitted to the transfer case front output shaft (only). This complex joint is often replaced with a single universal when it wears out, generally with acceptable results.

The steering swivels contain Range Rover c.v. joints because of the full-time four wheel drive.

Apart from that the stage-1 is bog standard Land Rover series III. If it had been produced ten years earlier it would have provided some real competition to Toyota's 45-series LandCruisers.

James Taylor in LROI reports rumours of a few short wheel base stage-1's having been produced, but if so it was very few indeed and they were never sold to the general public.
- 4wd.sofcom.com/LandRover/Landy.html

Specifications - Land Rover Series III Stage 1 1981

  • LWB station wagon, 10 seats, 5 doors
  • loa: 4580mm, width: 1680mm, height: 2000mm grnd clearance: 209mm (diff')
  • turning radius: 7.15m
  • weight: 1809kg (unladen), GVM: 2710kg, towing: 500kg (unbraked)
  • 3528cc, petrol, V8, twin Zenith Stromberg CDSE carb's, 2 valves/cyl, ohv
  • bore: 88.9mm, stroke: 71.12mm, c.r.: 8.13:1
  • transmission: LT95, 4m, full-time 4WD, centre diff' and lock
    ratios: 1st 4.069:1, 2nd 2.448:1, 3rd 1.505:1, 4th 1:1 (rev 3.664:1)
    t-case: hi 1.336:1, lo 3.321:1
    diffs: 3.54:1 Rover / Salisbury 8HA
  • suspension: live-leaf/live-leaf, brakes: drum/drum
  • tyres: 7.50x16, fuel-tank: 68L (15 gal UK)
  • NB. also available as ute, cab/chassis, hard-top and 12 seat stn wgn (cosy)

Up: Land-Rover page or Series page. Back: SIII. Forward: 90/110 (Defender)

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