1966 Late Series-IIA Land Rover 109
1966 Late Series-IIA Land Rover 109
Manufactured: Great Britain
Imported: Tenerife, Spain
Engine: 2.5L NA Rover Diesel
Transmission: 4-Speed Manual
Documenting as much as I can about where a truck came from has always been important to me. When I started importing classic vehicles, there wasn’t that much transparency out there. Vehicles showed up on Craigslist with unknown histories. Enticing yet still somehow suspect. Sharing what I know – the good, the bad, the ugly – about a vehicle is a way of bringing you along with me when we source, buy, and import. Normally that’s the story, and for this one it’s quite similar: In January 2017, Andres flew to Tenerife to inspect this Marine Blue Solihull-built 1966 Land Rover Series-IIA 109” Station Wagon. It was tired but seemed to have good bones. The 2.25L four-cylinder diesel started and ran. It was what we needed, so it was bought and loaded in a container. When it arrived here we got to work, but halfway through something terrible happened: The engine blew up.
There’s a more technical explanation but the point is the same: We had a Marine Blue paperweight and a huge problem.
The huge problem was solved, which gave way to more problems. Ever read “If you give a mouse a cookie?” Yeah. That kind of thing. I don’t remember the term, but I learned once that relationships which start rocky will – if they’re permitted to – evolve and forge strong, lasting bonds. Stronger attractions even than those who met and instantly hit it off. Why? Perhaps it’s the bond that forms when adversity is mounted and conquered together. A shared respect; a mutual understanding. Kevin Rockman will maybe be proud, and perhaps a little disappointed, that all the Organizational Behavior lessons he taught me are spilling out about Land Rovers. Sorry, Dr. Rockman.
So, then this one is different. Different than projects I’ve done in the past. Different because its transformation occurred here. Tom and I have labored in and out of months, through days, and deep into the nights on this Rover now. Case in point, I finished photographing Blue Blue #2 around 3am last night. The story here is less about where it came from, and more about what happened once it arrived.
Salvation came in the form of an email from the Pacific Northwest: An executive at Microsoft (who we’ll call “CF”) was upgrading the 2.5L NA diesel in her 1986 Land Rover 90 to a 200Tdi. Who was performing the swap? Doug at Dividing Creek imports. Doug worked in banking for years before buying a farm south of Lynchburg and making his name as ‘the guy’ for old Rover stuff domestically. CF relayed that the engine from ‘Buster’ had about 160,000km, or about 100,000 miles, on it when Doug pulled it out. The motor was bone-stock and conveyed with new (past 12 months) fluids, water pump, timing belt, thermostat, and starter. Doug pointed out that the seafoam green on the injection pump typically indicates a rebuilt unit. It was a healthy motor being pulled for an upgrade.
For us, the 2.5L NA was perfect for this truck. Installing another 2.25L diesel meant limiting ourselves to a more authentic restoration. Once the motor was non-original, the gloves came off in terms of modifications. We retained the four-speed manual and installed a new clutch. New shocks and leaf springs were a breath of life back into the truck which helped it sit high above the new 235/85/16 Falken Wildpeak tires. We custom-painted five new 16” wolf wheels to match the off-white roof, and fit a Defender-spec swing-away carrier on the rear door to hold the spare.
On the interior, the elephant-hyde vinyl from Exmoor carries across all five doors and all three rows of seats. The truck is configured to seat nine. Weather stripping was replaced on all five doors using 3M adhesive and the OEM rivets. The center seat was removed in the front and replaced with a cubby box we modified to carry a stereo and 500W 12V inverter. The Continental head unit pushes power through a 1000W amp under the driver seat to four speakers: Two mounted in the cubby box itself, and two above the rear door facing forward. It also has Bluetooth, which is more sophisticated than anything else on this truck by a country mile. Other notable improvements include:
Truck has seatbelts on the front two rows of seats
Wiper motor, switch, and gears were replaced
6,000 RPM VDO tachometer and voltimer added
2-speed aftermarket heater mounted under passenger seat blows forward and aft
Lasalle Trim fiberglass headliner
Galvanized front bumper and recovery point
The 2.5L NA diesel provides a little more power, but critically is more reliable, quite stout, and provides a little extra pep without overwhelming the rest of the vehicle.
This isn’t restored. There are areas of exposed aluminum where the Marine Blue paint has chipped or scratched off. The galvanized trim has been stripped and clear coated; it’s perfectly imperfect in the most consistently irregular sort of way. The weather stripping will take time to sit flush, and until it does the doors will be a bit difficult to shut. But it’s different. Different than what it was, different than what we’ve done before, and different from others on the road. And we like that.
Driveline. 2.5L NA Rover diesel from a 1986 Land Rover 90 has approximately 100,000 miles with new water pump, timing belt, thermostat, starter, and clutch. Motor is bolted to the original four speed transmission and two-speed transfer case. A push-button in the dash activates the upgraded glow plug circuit. The engine is healthy, strong, and propels the truck beautifully without being overbearing. Truck has new leaf springs and shocks.
Exterior. Marine Blue paint under an off-white roof and matched wheels. Paint is imperfect, with scratches, chips, and other irregularities. Five new 235/85/16 Falken Wildpeak tires; Defender-spec swing-away spare tire carrier and Defender-spec folding steps on all five doors. Corner lenses were replaced on front and rear.
Interior. Custom elephant hyde vinyl interior with matching seats and door cards. Truck is configured to seat nine (2, 3, 4). New Continental stereo with four speakers and amplifier. Sound insulation under seat box, hood, and engine compartment. We added two extra VDO gauges; a 6,000 RPM tachometer and voltimeter. New two-speed aftermarket heater is mounted under the passenger seat with vents blowing forward and aft. Center cubby box contains 500W 12V inverter with two 120V plugs and two USB ports. Inverter is controlled via toggle switch. Truck has seatbelts on the front and middle seats.
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