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The oldest Land-Rover Series 3 around - gearbox rebuild underway


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A mate of mine at work has just restored this, and now it's (just about) finished, is selling it. He wants what seems like a fair price for it, and it might be my only chance to indulge a boyhood dream before values climb too high. And hopefully I shouldn't lose out!

Is there anyone around who knows the values they actually sell for? Obviously I've looked at adverts and completed eBay listings, but don't know if they reflect reality!






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Yes, it's a bit strange - I think the ID has been passed onto a Series 3 in the dim and distant past (first registration date 1980?!) which will obviously devalue it for someone wanting an investment. But as a cheap way into classic LR ownership, people may not be so picky?

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Prices on Series Land-Rovers have gone beserk in the last few years.  You're looking at a minimum of £8k for that, as it looks like it's been done really well.  Possibly even into 5 figures if the registration issue is fixed.  Even at the bottom end of the market what used to be £100 of Land-rover you could pull out of a hedge is now a couple of thousand.

Be sure you actually want one.  They are definitely not for everyone.  Driving one for anything more than 10 minutes can be uncomfortable, cramped, deafening, slow, expensive and very very hard work.  They have power assisted nothing and you know all about it.

Also to bear in mind is that they are now quite highly prized and ludicrously easy to steal, so the market for stolen ones is big.  I sold my series land-rover as it had become far too valuable to be sat there rusting.  I also wanted to sell it before it was nicked.

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Things are going crazy with all Land Rovers price wise. I first thought £5/6000 but a quick look around suggests £8/9000.

Although I’d be very wary of the number plate, presumably it was rung onto that old number to save tax years ago, which is ironic now that a 1980 would be entitled to tax free status anyway! Whatever the reasons or legitimacy it could mean it ending up on a Q which would make its value a lot less , the trouble is now that the majority of S3s are tax free finding a logbook for a reasonable price will be impossible because they’re all on Defenders.

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Yeah, he's been showing me photos of the restoration over the last couple of years, and looks have been done well. He brought it in last week and I jokingly asked him to let me know when he was bored of it, and it went from there! His enjoyment is purely in the work, mot the driving!

I've been out in it for about half an hour this lunchtime, and can see what you mean although I was still grinning :-) Not ideal for my 80 mile round trip to work every day, but a decent road trip does appeal, in a masochistic kind of way. Got to be less hard work than an Invacar, surely?

What would prompt the change to a Q plate? He's had a change of ownership to him fairly recently, and nothing was queried. I was thinking of just letting be, rather than trying to prove anything to the DVLA.

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Find out what the VIN is and have a look at this list or this one to check it shouldn't be an 80" Series 1 or something like that.   

Land Rovers frequently get cobbled together with bits of other models and (depending on when it was done) that's fine, but if the VIN/chassis number wasn't right for the wheelbase I would want to know what the story was and that there was supporting documentation before parting with very much money. 

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The ID thing wouldn't worry me personally, it's been plate raped and I reckon the DVLA have cocked the paperwork up about 25 years ago and someone on a friday afternoon has picked the first year of any "petrol 2.0 land rover" for its supposed manufacture date.

It'll knock the value a bit but if you're just using it then it's no issue really so long as it's MOTd this year, after that it's exempt just the same as if it was actually made in 1953.

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I'd drive it a bit more before buying one if it's not just to be a toy, as Talbot says they are not for everyone. I had a diesel Series III as my first car and even with rose tinted glasses I know they are far from ideal as everyday transport. I've also had a 7esque kit car with no heater that I ran everyday for years so  I'm no stranger to roughing it.

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Yeah they’re pretty damn horrible to drive on a regular basis. I used to own an S3 ambulance and it was fun but hard work. Constantly correcting the steering, under powered 2 1/4 engine, brakes that took some getting right.... The only good thing was the heaters got toasty warm inside the cab. 


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Yep, I seem to remember being hemmed in in a parking space was particularly fun. I used to have to pull down on the wheel with both hands on one side while wedding my foot at the bottom of the drivers door to get a bit of leverage. Selecting reverse was interesting too. You had to do it with the flat of your palm as if you didn't it crushed your fingers between the gearstick and the dash and it fucking hurt enough to only do it once.  As for the steering at least mine had some adjustment left. I drove a farm hack once that had all the good bits swapped off it onto another one before it was put back into auction. It was quite literally a quarter turn either way to keep it on a straight 😮

Personally for that money I'd buy the earliest 200 Tdi Disco I could in the best colour and condition I could find and run that instead. 

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I remember a journey I did once in a S3 Diesel SWB.  I was towing a car transporter trailer with a S2 Diesel LWB on it all the way from near-london to Swansea.

By the time I was halfway there I was deaf, knackered, hot on one side and freezing on the other, mentally exhausted from the concentration of keeping it on the road and suffering cramp from the abysmal driving position (which is less spacious in a SWB than in the LWB.)

When I got to Swansea, I discovered that the combination of SWB 10" drum brakes on the larger 7.5" LWB rims does not make for a good stopping experience, especially with no servo.  While coming down a fairly steep hill towards a set of traffic lights, I couldn't slow down.  I was only doing about 20mph, but just couldn't get the speed to drop.  Managed to change all the way down into 1st gear, and had both feet so hard on the brake I gave myself a bruise.  Slowed a bit, bit still couldn't get it to stop.   Luckily the lights went green and I went through the lights still with a foot hard on the brake.  even more thankfully, the hill (which was much steeper than I'd expected) finished at the crossroads and the road went level again, so I pulled in to a fuel station about 200 yds further along the road and had a 20 minute break to steady my nerves.

The brakes weren't actually that hot.  They're just shit.  turns out the trailer brakes were trying to come on, but as I couldn't get the front land-rover to slow down quickly enough, the trailer couldn't push hard enough on the towbar to engage it's brakes properly.

Not an experience I ever wish to replicate.


Another miserable Land-rover driving experience, this time in my own S2B, was the evening I was doing a journey of about 100 miles, and it was absolutely belting down with rain.  The seals on the door-tops are crap at the best of times, and on this journey I was getting dripped on, and hence getting wet.  Not pleasant when It's freezing cold.  So I pulled in to a garage, and under the canopy used about 200 of their paper towels to dry the outside of the doorframe, the windscreen pillar and the roof edge, and then duck-taped the door up.  Got in through the passenger side and continued the journey, getting less wet. (but not actually staying dry...)

I like them for their Meccano-esque simplicity.  Driving, owning and maintaining one though?  No ta. 

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On 10/7/2020 at 10:05 PM, Talbot said:

Prices on Series Land-Rovers have gone beserk in the last few years.  You're looking at a minimum of £8k for that, as it looks like it's been done really well.  Possibly even into 5 figures if the registration issue is fixed.  Even at the bottom end of the market what used to be £100 of Land-rover you could pull out of a hedge is now a couple of thousand.

Be sure you actually want one.  They are definitely not for everyone.  Driving one for anything more than 10 minutes can be uncomfortable, cramped, deafening, slow, expensive and very very hard work.  They have power assisted nothing and you know all about it.

Also to bear in mind is that they are now quite highly prized and ludicrously easy to steal, so the market for stolen ones is big.  I sold my series land-rover as it had become far too valuable to be sat there rusting.  I also wanted to sell it before it was nicked.

I would second the theft issue. So many about and mix-and-match they must be a ringer's paradise.

I say this because I have an early Toyota Landcruiser. It has been stolen once in my ownership and gets frequent moronic "do you want to sell it" notes on it. It lives outside and now has steering bar fitted, has a chain through one of it's wheels and is chained through the chassis to a lamp post. Phew!

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Theft is a bit of a worry, although our location is probably a fairly low risk. It'll be under a roof, with at least one vehicle in front of it anyway!

Think I'll keep this thread going as a progress report - collection planned for tomorrow so watch this space!  

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13 hours ago, mat_the_cat said:

our location is probably a fairly low risk

I suspect more that the vehicles you've had up to this point are low risk.  Having a Series LR in a rural location might be higher risk than you thought.  Blocking it in with another vehicle is a good plan.  I'd also consider some other mechanical means of preventing theft.  Clutch/brake clamps are good, as are things like custom kill switches.  I'd also make sure it's hidden from casual view when parked up.

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Now collected, and on the way home via some hills.


Second impressions are still that it's noisy and bumpy, but the heater is good, lights are decent, and steering not as wayward feeling as the test drive. Could really do with a 5th gear or overdrive, as 4th feels quite high revving at 50mph.

And the all-important shot!


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41 minutes ago, mat_the_cat said:

Could really do with a 5th gear or overdrive, as 4th feels quite high revving at 50mph.

Sounds about right.

5-speed gearboxes are very hard to fit to a series, and overdrives are now lots of money, if indeed you can even find one.

The other alternative is a set of 3.54 differentials from a D1/D2 or RR classic.  They're cheap enough, and bolt swappable for the 4.71 diffs you currently have in it.   It does raise every gear, including of course the low-range, but having driven the same vehicle on 4.71 diffs and then on 3.54 diffs, the change was a definite improvement and well worth the effort.  Plus you can can keep the 4.71's handy for originality if ever needed.

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I know he's fitted new headlights, so would assume halogen bulbs. New alternator too, so voltage should be fine. I was pleasantly surprised at their effectiveness too!

Back home now, and just waiting for my ears to stop ringing...


Point taken about previous fleet desirability, but at least now my wife is working from home so it's rare it'll be left unguarded. 

I think I'll need to look at the cooling system, as the gauge was creeping up on the climbs. But apart from that it was a decent drive back.

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28 minutes ago, mat_the_cat said:

the gauge was creeping up on the climbs.

Quite normal.  if you work a LR engine hard you can get the temperature needle worryingly close to the overheat area of the gauge.  Towing up hill with a diesel S3 you can get the needle completely into the red, and that's with a new rad, fan fitted and cooling system in good condition.  Also they run quite cool normally, so even "a bit warm" shows up as a temperature rise compared to normal.

Also, if it's not got any aftermarket sound insulation, wear ear defenders for a journey of anything longer than about 20 mins.

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That may be all it is, but the radiator looks a bit crusty. Not so much that I think it'd affect cooling, but maybe if it's marginal anyway...

It seemed to creep a bit higher at 50mph on the flat too, so inclined to think all is not 100%. Looking around the £120 mark for a standard 3 row radiator, or £175 for an updated 4 row version. Not planning to tow, so the standard one will probably suffice.

I have to say that the engine has more 'go' than I'd expected for only 70bhp. It'll climb surprisingly well still in 4th, so have to resort to the somewhat vague gearshift less often.

Shopping list:

heater duct


interior light

matching spare wheel

reversing light

trailer socket

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  • mat_the_cat changed the title to The oldest Land-Rover Series 3 around - gearbox rebuild underway

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