Stage One V8

From 1979 until 1985 [2], the Stage 1 was built using some of the same components as the Range Rover and 101 Forward Control, such as the LT95 gearbox and 3.5 litre Rover V8 petrol engine. The engine was detuned to 91 hp (68 kW) from the 135BHP that the Range Rover of the time had. The Stage 1 was available in a 109-inch (2,800 mm) and 88in wheelbase’.[3]

“Stage 1” refers to the first stage of investment by the British Government in the company to improve the Land Rover and Range Rover product offerings, which eventually led to the Land Rover 90 and 110. The use of the Range Rover engine and drive train made it the only Series III vehicle to have permanent four wheel drive.

1 Ton

The 1 Ton 109″ – produced from 1968 to approx 1977, covering late IIa and early series III Models. It was basically a Series IIb Forward Control built with a standard 109″ body, featuring 2.6 litre petrol engine, lower ratio gearbox, ENV front and rear axles, (Salisbury front and rear on Series III) though during the transition period some were fitted with ENV axles in front and Salsbury on the rear. The chassis frame was unique to the model and featured drop-shackle suspension similar to the military series Land Rovers. 900×16 tyres were a standard feature and these machines were commonly used by utility companies and breakdown/recovery firms. Only 170 IIa and 275 (approx) Series IIIs (1 Ton) were built for the home market.


Australia has always been an important export market for Land Rovers of all sorts, but especially the utility models. 80-inch Series I models were imported by the Australian government in the late 1940s for work on civil engineering projects such as dams and road construction, which brought the vehicle to the buying public’s attention. Large sales followed and in the 1950s Land Rover established a factory in Australia to build CKD kits shipped from the Solihull factory. The Land Rover continued to sell well throughout the 1960s in Series II guise, commanding some 90% of the off-road market, and with practically every farm having at least one Land Rover. The lack of power was often resolved by replacing the engine with a Holden (161/173/186 etc.) engine for which conversion kits were readily available.

The Series III continued this success in the early 1970s, but from the middle of the decade sales declined. A combination of increasing competition (mostly from Japanese vehicles such as the Toyota Land Cruiser) and increasingly poor quality of the parts being shipped from Britain meant that Land Rover’s dominance slipped. The problems faced by Land Rover were the same throughout its export markets- compared to the Japanese competition, the Land Rover was underpowered, unreliable and slow with a poor ride quality, despite their superior off-road ability. Poor rust-proofing and low-quality steel in comparison to the Japanese vehicles turned the buyers away in large numbers and by 1983, with the introduction of the One Ten, the Land Cruiser was the best selling 4×4 in Australia.

In the early 1980s, Land Rover Australia had made some changes to the vehicle to try and combat this sales decline. As well as the fitting of the V8 petrol engine in the 1979 “Stage One”, as in the rest of the world, Australia also received the same vehicle with the option of a 3.9 litre 89 hp (66 kW) 4 cylinder Isuzu diesel engine. This helped slow the sales decline, but the rest of the vehicle’s shortcomings let it down. The One Ten was also available with this engine, and a turbocharged version producing in excess of 100 horsepower (75 kW) powered the military 6×6.

Land Rover Series III Pickup

Short wheelbase Land Rover Series III


The British Army used Series Land Rovers in large numbers (and continues to use the modern Defender versions). The British Army tested the 80-inch (2,000 mm) Series I Land Rover almost as soon as it was launched in 1948. At that time, the Army was more interested in developing a specially-designed military utility 4×4 (the Austin Champ). However, the Champ proved too complex, heavy and unreliable in battlefield conditions so the Army looked to the Land Rover. In the late 1940s the Ministry of Defence was keen on the standardisation of its vehicles and equipment. Part of this plan was to fit Rolls-Royce petrol engines to all its vehicles (even though most were not actually built by R-R). A batch of Series I Land Rovers were fitted with Rolls-Royce B40 4-cylinder engine, which required modification to an 81-inch (2,100 mm) wheelbase). However, the engine was too heavy and slow-revving, which stunted performance, and produced torque that the Rover gearbox could only just cope with. Rover convinced the MOD that, considering the quantities of Land Rovers they were considering ordering, that the standard 1.6 litre engine would suffice. The MOD started ordering Land Rovers in batches from late 1949. The initial batches were for 50 vehicles, but by the mid 1950s the Army was buying Land Rovers 200 vehicles at a time.

Land Rovers were deployed to the Korean War and the Suez Crisis, and became standard light military vehicles throughout the Commonwealth.

The Army’s Land Rover fleet initially comprised standard-specification vehicles. During 1953 the British Army bought a small number of Land Rovers that were only rear wheel drive. These were intended to replace the large fleet of ‘tillies‘- car-based pickup trucks that were used in large numbers for general liaison, personnel and transport duties. It was reasoned that a two-wheel drive Land Rover would be able to do all the duties of a ’tilly’, whilst being able to tow a trailer, deal with rough roads/tracks and allow easier servicing by being essentially identical to the four-wheel-drive Land Rover models. The 2-wheel-drive versions used the same gearbox/transfer box as standard models, with the front drive flange removed and blanked off. The front axle was replaced with a simple tubular beam axle. The gearbox retained its twin-range transfer gears. The small number of 2WD Land Rovers were mainly used as aircraft tugs, recovery vehicles, as well as the same uses the older ’tillies’ had undertaken. However, it was found that the standard 4WD Land Rover was just as capable of these jobs as the 2WD version (when running on the road, standard Land Rovers only drove the rear axle anyway) with the added benefit of 4WD when working in fields, on rough tracks, ice, snow or when towing heavy loads. The Army ordered no more 2WD versions after the Series II models were introduced.

However, as the 1960s progressed, more and more specialised versions were developed. As well as the standard ‘GS’ (General Service) vehicles, a common variant was the ‘FFR’ (Fitted For Radio’, which had 24-volt electrics and a large engine-powered generator to power on-board radios. There were also Ambulances on the 109-inch (2,800 mm) Series II chassis. A well-known version was the LRDPV (Long-Range Desert Patrol Vehicle), commonly called the ‘Pink Panther’, on account of their distinctive light pink sand camouflage. These 109-inch (2,800 mm) Series IIs were stripped of doors and windscreens and fitted with grenade launchers, a machine gun mounting ring and long-range fuel tanks and water tanks. They were used by the SAS for desert patrol and special operations.

1983 Series III HT Lightweight

By the late 1970s the British Army had acquired around 9,000 Series III models, which were mainly a special ‘Heavy Duty’ version of the 109-inch (2,800 mm) Soft Top. These models had improved suspension components and a different chassis cross-member design. These were produced in 12-volt ‘GS’ models and 24-volt ‘FFR’ versions. A small number were 88-inch (2,200 mm) GS and FFR models, but in general the Army used the Air-Portable 1/2 ton, 88-inch (2,200 mm) “Lightweight” version. The Lightweight was in service by many armys all over the world. In Europe even the Dutch Landmacht and the Danish Army used the Land-Rover Lightweight. Instead of the petrol engine the Dutch and Danish Lightweights had diesel engines. Instead of the canvas top the Dutch ones had PVC tops like the modern Landrover Wolf.

In addition, there were also 101-inch Forward Control models, 109-inch (2,800 mm) FV18067 ambulances built by Marshall Aerospace of Cambridge.

The Royal Navy and Royal Air Force also acquired and maintained smaller Land Rover fleets during the 1960s and 1970s. The RAF used 88-inch (2,200 mm) models for communications, liaison, personnel transport and airfield tractor duties. The Royal Navy’s fleet was, understandably, small and consisted mainly of GS-spec and Station Wagon versions for personnel and cargo transport.

In the Falklands War of 1982 the British Army deployed several hundred Land Rovers to the South Atlantic. These never reached the Falklands as they were transported on the requesitioned merchant ship ‘Atlantic Conveyor‘ which was sunk in an airstrike. The loss of their light 4x4s caused numerous logistical problems for the British forces. After the conflict to replace the lost vehicles the Army ordered 200 Series III Land Rovers in ‘Commercial Utility’ specification (i.e. the most basic). These lacked the upgraded chassis and suspension that military-spec Land Rovers had and also had features such as the standard civilian front bumper, civilian headlights with trim surrounds and interiors that lacked the extra switchpanel that was installed for military customers. These civilian-spec vehicles served alongside the dedicated military specification fleet for over 10 years and proved to be just as robust. The Army’s experience with these standard Land Rovers played a part in determining the specification for the Army’s Ninety/One Ten fleet of later years, which were much closer to standard specification.

All British military Land Rovers used the 2.25 litre 4-cylinder petrol engine. However, some overseas customers (such as the The Netherlands) specified the 2.25 litre diesel unit instead.

The Land Rover is also the basis for the Shorland Internal Security Patrol Vehicle developed by Short Brothers.


Minerva Land Rover

Minerva of Belgium produced a vehicle called a Standard Vanguard, which was produced in Belgium, under licence of the Standard Motor Company.

When Belgium’s army needed a lightweight 4×4 vehicle, the head of Minerva, Monsieur van Roggen approached the Rover company in the spring of 1951. On 21 June, Rover discovered that they were competing against Willy’s Jeep for the contract. In October 1951, the deal was agreed and in 1952, the Minerva-Land Rover was produced.

The Rover company supplied technical support for Minerva and allowed Minerva to produce Land Rovers under licence to Rover.


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