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Which series to buy?


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Hi guys, well I've really got this Landy thing bad now !!!

I have 2 Disco's Tdi 200 for my wife and Tdi 300 auto for me but I quite fancy buying a series Land Rover.

I like the idea of something more basic, less electrical/electronic, older, something I can work on to bring back to a full working life, not for every day but for playing in the mud and all the small pistes and tracks around where we live. I'm too precious with the Discos.

So, to my question or series of questions.

1. Which series - 1, 2, 2a or 3. I've been looking at the spares position which is starting to lead me towards 2a or 3

2. Which engine - 2.25 petrol or diesel? 2.5 ditto. Not interested in V8's, sorry.

3. I'm leaning towards swb, due to weight and we don't need anything bigger. Hardtop, although a full canvass roof is quite appealing for the summer.

4. I'm thinking leaf springs but what are parabollic springs?

What key elements should I look for when viewing some vehicles? Bulkheads rusty - yes but where? how bad is too bad? What to look for?

Chassis - would love to go for a new galvy chassis but getting it over here might be an expensive proposition.

I hope I'm painting some pictures guys - can you please fill in the blanks ??

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First off, the best advice for anyone thinking of buying a Series is for the love of God drive one before you rush out to buy one, they are nothing whatsoever like any modern car and just as far from your Disco. They will require regular maintenance, they are slow, bouncy, vague, noisy, and probably the most fun you will have whilst driving.

Remember - the youngest Series is 25 years old now and the design is basically 60 years old, if it were any other car that old it'd be some oxidised steel in a jiffy bag by now.

The purists won't thank me for saying this but S2/2A/3 are mostly interchangeable, a huge number of major components are the same or at least swappable. The S3 is slightly more civilised having an all-syncro gearbox, although a great number of S2's will have had S3 boxes put in. The dashboard is the only other major thing, apart from that there's nothing between a late S2 and an early S3, later S3's had better brakes which IMHO is worth thinking about. The headlights moved out to the wings somewhere between S2 and S3, take your pick.

The 2.25 diesel gives a top speed of ~50mph downhill with a following wind, they are possibly the slowest thing known to man but will chug along forever and you'll never over-stress any parts of the drivetrain.

The 2.25 petrol is a better bet, they are happy on unleaded, can be tweaked up for more go and will be (slightly) more civilised to drive and will cruise slightly closer to acceptable motorway speeds.

The 2.5 petrol or diesel from a Defender is a popular swap (or used to be until the world went 200TDi crazy) and gives a little more poke as you'd expect. They're the same lump as the 2.25 but bored out so not much else to say there.

Don't rule out LWB's, they ride better (SWB's can be very choppy over rough ground), are usually a bit cheaper to buy, and you can hold a cat swinging contest with all your mates in the back. They also tow better, although both will tow quite happily.

Also don't rule out the V8, it is (I think) the perfect combination and will deliver very similar (or even better) economy to the 2.25 petrol lump but with a much bigger grin and a fantastic noise. Just beware of bodged V8 installs, if it doesn't look right, walk away.

Leaf springs / parabolics - stock LR leaf springs are normal multiple leaves. Parabolics use fewer leaves (2 leaf fronts, 2 leaf rears on 88's and 4-leaf rears on 109's) and the leaves themselves get thinner at the ends, giving a more supple ride. They can be fitted to any Series, and do improve the ride especially if fitted with decent shocks at the same time. They also improve articulation.

Rust - bulkhead, chassis, front panel, door sills, door frames - all can be repaired or replaced, check the likes of Paddocks for prices on parts, repair sections or complete new bits. How bad anything is is down to what you can do and how deep your pockets are. Galv chassis and bulkheads are available if you're up for the task. If you go down that road remember that once you start taking things apart you will find 10x as much stuff needs replacing as you thought.

Galvy chassis collection need only be a weekend trip with a rented van or trailer.

Have a check of the wiring - LR owners treat wiring like some sort of dark magic and you can find horrific bodges and crumbling looms that could conspire to turn your landy to dust, via a big ball of fire, very quickly. New looms are available with proper fuses, if yours has been hacked about I'd consider it a worthwhile investment (and indeed a bargaining chip).

Also beware of other customisation or modification by previous owners, carpet and chequer plate can hide all manner of sins. Also, any upgrades do not add up to their individual price if bought new, anyone who tries to charge you £1000 more because the vehicle has £1000 worth of stuff bolted to it is being about £900 too optimistic, assuming the gear is any good and that you actually wanted any of it in the first place.

It should start OK, stop eventually and in a reasonably straight line, and the steering wheel should exert some sort of influence on where you're going, albeit usually with 1/4 turn tolerance on any given input. It shouldn't make colourful smoke. It will leak oil (if it doesn't, it's empty) but you shouldn't be able to watch the oil pour out of anywhere or have to carry a 5L bottle of it around with you. The gearbox will whine but shouldn't sound like a washing machine full of ball bearings, and it should have a fairly high success rate of selecting the gear you were going for without having to resort to swearing.

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FridgeFreezer has pretty much said it but...

Head lights moved out to the wings during the 2A period. I prefer the lights in the grille look myself.

2 and 2A didn't have full syncromesh in the main gear box and so need to be double declutched to prevent crunching the gears.

The S3 also had a larger intermediate shaft in the transfer box which made it stronger as well as bigger wheel studs and a greater offset in the wheel rims to give a wider track. It also had the Salisbury axle under the back of the LWB. The door hinges are also flatter and look less agricultural and the same with the windscreen hinge. The skirts on the sills were also deeper on the S2 and 2A.

The S2 and 2A chassis were made of flat plate edge welded on both the 88 and 109 whereas the S3 109 had a chassis made from two bits of channel pressing that was overlapped and welded with seems top and bottom of the chassis rails.

What else? The vent flaps had mesh fly screens as standard on S3 but were optional on S2 and 2A.

S3 had the DeLuxe bonnet where as that was the option on the S2 and 2A and bonnet hinges were different with plastic bushes on the S3.

S2 and 2A had the fuel tank under the driver's seat, it is under the back of the chassis in the S3.

There were also flush window catches on the S3 in plastic to match the dash board.

The steering shouldn't really have more then about 1/8 of a turn play when stationary and it isn't as heavy as it might seem on standard tyres.

My first Land Rover was a S3 safari and it had optional extras: twin silencers so it was quiet, dual rate rear springs so it rode well empty and the Police very kindly fitted new Michelin XCL radials so it handled quite well. It was a scary shock when it went on Firestone SAT cross plies.

If I was getting another standard Series to play with I would get a S3 109 petrol safari, as late as possible and in the best condition I could find.

If I was going to mess with it a little then I would get a S2 109 with the lights in the grille, fit a Sailsbury on the back and the bigger front brakes from a 6 cylinder on the front with matching S3 hubs for the bigger studs. I'd use the S3 brake servo with the larger bore cylinder to suit the bigger brakes. I would also use the S3 wheels. I'd fit the S3 gear and transfer box. The door locks would be changed to antiburst and the door mirrors will be S3 hinge mount type, standard on the off side and with the longer arm from the Sherpa on the near side. This would mean adapting the doors to fit the mirrors though. As for seats, I would use MGB seats.

I've been thinking about this for too long.

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