UK CAR Reviews:
Land Rover Series III swb Diesel

Land Rover



Buying a car is as much a choice of the heart as a choice of the head. Just take a look at the traffic next time your bored, and see in and among the rafts of lookalike euro-boxes, all of the daft things that people purchase. Sometimes you just want one, you have just got to have one and it really don't matter that everybody says it will end in tears because, at the end of the day, you're going to part with your cash and buy one!

Behold my SIII !


Let's get it over with straight away, the only things slower than LAND ROVERS are diesel LAND ROVERS and Series I LAND ROVERS. In the cut and thrust of modern traffic, these things just can't hack it. Out-accelerating buses becomes a major achievement, the complete lack of speed means that not only are you forced to cruise at 45-55mph on even the most empty 4 lane Motorway, but you also get stuck behind every flatcap and blue rinse out for a Sunday dawdle with absolutely no means of getting past them.  Merging into traffic, on a busy motorway from a short slip road, can only be described as downright dangerous. Often you need to filter in at your top speed some, 10 to 20mph less than the traffic is moving at.  Making heavy use of the gearbox doesn't make much difference -  you probably lose half your hard gained momentum whilst you try to find the next elusive gear.  Learning to double de-clutch was quite an eye opener, and yes I know the SIII has a syncromesh box but it never seems to work.


How well it handles depends on whether you've got crossplies or radials fitted. Not at all if it's the crossplies and just plain S**T if you're on the Radials. Red Hot  slicks on Oz racing wheels couldn't coerce this thing round a bend at any kind of speed. Steering tends to be of the point and hope variety with most people doing a good impression of an old black and white film when sawing back and forth on the rudder. On the plus side, the steering is surprisingly light, once on the move and the pedals are easy to press, which is more than BL managed on some of it's other cars of similar age.

Ride & Comfort

Unlike the handling, the ride can be improved by tyre choice - some 7.50 radials will soften the ride slightly but, it will still be like riding a skateboard down a cobbled street. Simplest way to ease the ride is to stick 6 people in the back, at which point the suspension almost starts to actually work. To be fair though, leaf springs, a pair of live axles and double the usual amount of transmission equipment weigh an awful lot and that massive unsprung weight is always going to ruin the ride.

Some nice seats might make things bearable but anyone over average height will be pushed for legroom in the first place and a thickly padded seat is only going to make it worse.

Does noise affect comfort? It does if you've got one of these. Anything over 45 mins leaves you with your ears ringing. Noise suppression is the number one priority for anyone who buys one of these.

Extras and Kit

This is the easy bit because as standard, they haven't got ANY zip - Nothing.  No heated rear windscreen, rear wash wipe, nothing! You do get a heater but it probably doesn't work by now and was never that good in the first place. Everything you ever see on these is an extra and quite a few models will have picked up a few extras down the passage of time, but it's surprising how many standard ones are still running around.

Living with One

The few times you actually need one of these, then they just can't be beaten. The interior is surprisingly short but high so you can jam loads of stuff, things, dogs and people in. You don't buy one of these for its dynamic prowess on the road so really, if you had any sense, you would buy an even more barge-like 109 instead - then you could shove even more gear in it. Performance isn't a major worry if you don't live in a town or are never in a hurry. It's the only car (sorry, vehicle) where a patina of age, bumps, bruises and scuffs add to its appeal. As long as you don't go too mad with the interior redecoration and lay loads of carpet to deaden the noise, it's easily cleaned out after a good covering of cack.

Spring and Summer are Okay despite slide only windows, as the vintage front air vents let in some extra cooling. Lack of sunvisors mean you will need to carry your sunglasses. Autumn and Winter will require thermal underwear, gloves, a woolly hat and a  waterproof if it's wet (the doors will probably leak and rain will flow through at speed!!!!!!!).

Reliability is not what the legend would have you believe. Everything can be fixed but it needs to be that as everything tends to break. The engine is fairly reliable as long as you don't thrash it and for once, the petrol version will outlast the oil burner and probably makes more sense long term. Gearboxes and transmissions are always dodgy and expensive. Fluid leaks are par for the course - engine oil, gear-box oil, brake fluid  - if you can pour it in, then it's going to find it's way back out. Fuel can leak from rusty old tanks of course, but then the engine burns it so quickly that it probably doesn't have time to find the holes (I think that's called path of least resistance).

Security is not a major problem despite only rudimentary locks as no one in their right mind is going to take it for a joy ride.

I really must have one

Well don't say you haven't been warned but if you really must, here's what it should have before you even go to look at it.

Must haves:

Would be nice but cheap to do yourself:

Worth having if it's fitted:

Not worth a toss:



Do yourself a favour - save up the extra cash and buy a nice TDI 90 instead

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