1976 LAND ROVER Series 3View vehicle description
If aliens landed on earth and there were no humans left, what vehicle would they see most of lying around, all over the globe? The Land Rover, almost certainly. Is there a country without one? We doubt it. The Land Rover has been there, seen it all and worn the battle scars to prove it.
If someone had told you in 1948 that the new Land Rover would still be in production 68 years later, you’d have laughed your head off. Nonetheless, despite myriad differences the last of the line 2016 Defender was essentially the same vehicle – an astonishing record that will surely stand forever.
For those of us of a certain age, the fact that the Land Rover Series III was launched 47 years ago is hard to believe. While it was (at best) a lightly fettled Series II, it was a welcome update for those folk for whom Solihull’s finest provided the only viable transport to get them around their farms and across vast swathes of the developing world.
Initially available with either the 2-litre petrol or diesel engine from the Series 1, a move to larger and more powerful engines was inevitable; tectonic plates move faster than an early Series 2, even with your foot flat to the floor.
And while the 2.25-litre diesel engine that joined the lineup with the introduction of the Series 2a in 1961 isn’t the last word in power or refinement, it is hugely reliable and will run forever on the merest whiff of an oily rag. It is, therefore, utterly in keeping with the rest of the vehicle, which is distinctly agricultural but as tough as a miner’s steel-toe-capped boots.
The 72bhp petrol engine, on the other hand, might displace the same as its diesel stablemate but it is a completely different animal being silky smooth and a joy to rev. Not so much of a joy when it is time to fill up of course, but then everything in life has a cost and most agree that the moderate increase in fuel consumption is a small price to pay for what is indisputably a much nicer driving experience.
A 2.6-litre, straight-six diesel was also offered in the long wheelbase models, but it was never a popular option when new and is even rarer now.
Other than the matching 2.25-litre engines, the Series 2a is very similar to the Series 2 to look at and the move to wing-mounted headlamps from grille-mounted is really the only way to distinguish them at a distance.
It was available with either an 88in wheelbase (the short wheelbase model, or SWB) or a 109in, the long wheelbase or LWB. Other factory options included a soft-top as well as a fixed-roof, and the latter was available with the much prized Safari roof, a double-skinned arrangement that is said to reduce the ambient temperature inside the cab thanks to a cooling flow of air betwixt the two.
You could choose your new LWB Land Rover as a Station Wagon with either ten or 12 seats (the latter was classed as a minibus, so was very tax-efficient…), a van or pickup. The nifty, ultra-maneuverable SWB could be had in the same configurations albeit seating fewer people.
But, no matter which engine you choose, the Series III was never about refinement, power, or handling; they were built to conquer the world using brute force and stubbornness and were the latest in a long line of Land Rovers that helped civil engineers, explorers and the military get to where they needed to be.
This 1976 Series 3 has been the subject of a complete strip down and rebuild, carried out by two friends as a retirement project. One was an engineer, the other a mechanic, so the Land Rover was in good hands.
It’s a short wheelbase version with a completely open body for summer use, and a very attractive, new canvas hood for the more gloomy months. The restoring pair’s approach was to rebuild and repair everything that needed it, without totally destroying all signs that the vehicle is in fact 46 years old. To that end we’d say they’ve been very successful.
On the Outside
The Marine Blue paintwork has a more satin finish than it would have had from the factory, which is a choice many enthusiasts make when rebuilding these vehicles as the aluminium panels were never particularly straight and true even when new, and can easily pick up small dents in daily use that a gloss finish just highlights. The satin finish is much more forgiving and also suits the Land Rover’s utilitarian nature perfectly.
The same goes for the aftermarket, possibly Weller, steel wheels, shod with a new set of tyres. A lot of the galvanised steel channels on the vehicle look to have been replaced or replated and look very smart – they are, after all, as close as you get to brightwork on a Series Land Rover.
As on all Land Rovers of this period, if the lack of a roof doesn’t provide quite enough wind in your hair, you can fold the windscreen flat for the full Daktari driving experience.
On the Inside
Seats from a later Land Rover Defender provide a bit more comfort than the Series 3 would have had from new, with the notoriously thinly padded original seats. A good choice if you want to travel any distance and are more Mick Jagger than Adele, we reckon.
Although the inside of the vehicle has clearly been thoroughly restored, there are items that have deliberately been left as they were – the inside of the rear folding door, for instance, is still in its original galvanised finish, and looks all the better for it in our view. Over restored cars can look a bit soulless and this one escapes that by keeping some parts that are completely serviceable, but show signs of a life well lived.
The underside of the Land Rover has obviously had just as much attention as up top, and that’s a very good thing as it’s the chassis that provides all the strength in this aluminium bodied vehicle. This car retains its original chassis but it has been very well repaired with new steel carefully welded in to replace any areas that had suffered from tin worm (please see pictures).
Everything is still left in painted finish, so it’s very easy to see what you’re dealing with, which is what looks like a very sound vehicle that has many new parts – springs, shock absorbers and bushes all look new. The springs, we’re told, are new parabolic items which give a more compliant ride than the original parts fitted back in 1976. And if you’ve ever been in a leaf-sprung Land Rover you’ll thank the restorers for that.
The engine bay is equally well presented, and if you look at the list of new parts bought during the restoration, you’ll see that the 2.25-litre four cylinder petrol engine was rebuilt with new rings, bearings and seals throughout.
There’s a large selection of photos provided by the owner of the restoration taking place, which shows that it was a pretty comprehensive strip-down and rebuild – the pics are well worth a look. The seller says:
‘The car was completely taken apart and rebuilt by 2 retired friends , one a mechanic the other an engineer, I have photos of the rebuild from chassis up, everything was either refurbished or replaced, the list of the new parts is extremely long (I have attached the list of some of the parts) with 1000’s spent.
The car is painted Marine blue with new black interior. New bench seats with lap belts are fitted in the rear.
‘It comes with a cab roof and truck bed tonneau cover as well as the new Exmoor Trim soft top.
‘The front seats are from a Defender with new foam and seat covers along with new parabolic springs, giving a much more comfortable ride than the original setup.
‘The overall condition is very good, not concours. It was a considerate restoration ensuring that some of the original patina was kept. The Land Rover drives really well for a Series, I’ve owned many of them over the years. It will come with a new MoT.’
What We Think
If you’re looking for a Series Land Rover that you can drive and enjoy, this could well be it. It’s been restored to a high standard but still retains a sense of history and isn’t so immaculate that you’d worry about getting some mud on it.
We estimate this car to fetch between £17,000 - £22,000 in auction.
Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with the seller in Finchley. The Market is open weekdays 9am-5pm, to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.
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