The Joy of Old Land Rover Ownership

The older Land Rovers (leading up to the Defenders) are pretty much covered tractors with extra seating.

They were never intended as motorway cruising town cars. They were meant as work horses – and they do that well.

This leads to a few eye openers for those who do not know what to expect when they first get in an old Landy.

Take ours for example – a short wheel base (88″) Series III 2.25l petrol engined tank from 1977 – or ‘Frank‘ as Chris calls ‘him’….. or ‘The 88‘ as Alex calls ‘him’. (I use either…..). MEET FRANK

Some FRANK stats……

Driver comfort:

Square of foam for a cushion, with another one for a back rest…. some ‘posher’ models have the block of foam shaped slightly.

Air filled tyres.

Big letter box sized holes under the windscreen for cold air (and anything else that goes in them).

Engine for hot air (constant).

Passenger comfort:

Same as the driver – less a steering wheel to hold onto for reassurance.

Driving aids:

Steering wheel (big, as there is no power steering).  Clutch, a brake and a throttle.

There are indicators, but no hazard lights or reverse lights.

Mirrors. These give an idea of things around you… The vibration doesn’t really help with identifying what the things are though.

Gear stick. Ah, yes…. there are several of these. Where it lacks in other areas, it makes up for in the number of selector levers.

Stereo…. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! Sure! Fit one, but you’re not going to hear the damned thing over the road noise and the engine and transmission howl!!!


Frank has two normal (modern) belts for the driver and left hand passenger. The middle passenger gets a lap belt.

Rear passengers (4 people) get two shiny bench seats – No belts. Plenty of room to tuck and roll though…

That being said, the Landy is built on a massive girder chassis. If you do crash into someone, you probably won’t know it until you get home and spot their poxy Saxo boy racer embedded on the bumper…

I had a very early Range Rover that had the same type of chassis. A Ford Ka managed to write itself off on my Range Rover… whilst the Range Rover was parked and stationary…. The Ka hit my front bumper whilst reversing far too quickly out of a parking space. My Rangey didn’t suffer a scratch.


0-60mph:  Ha ha ha…. really? 60mph? What’s a 60mph?

Braking: Eventual. Plan ahead.

Fuel Economy: 20mpg is possible….

From the Highway Code:

(Obviously not intended for drivers of old Land Rovers…)

1st gear – for speeds between 0 and 10mph
2nd gear – for speeds between 10 and 20mph
3rd gear – for speeds between 20 and 30mph
4th gear – for speeds between 30 and 40mph
5th gear – for speeds over 40mph


1st gear – for speeds between 0 and 5mph
2nd gear – for speeds between 2 and 10mph
3rd gear – for speeds between 10 and 20mph
4th gear – for speeds between 20 and 45mph
Ear defenders & brave pills – for speeds over 45mph

Cost of running:

Spares are dirt cheap. I mean pocket money cheap for most of the stuff you require. It’s a giant Meccano kit and dead simple to work with (mostly).

Ignore the miles per gallon, as the smiles per gallon make up for it.

To improve of speed (and a little economy) there are various options you can go for, such as overdrives, bigger tyres, better engine, gearbox modifications – but it’s an old Land Rover, so I never expected 60mpg and precision handling! The overdrive or gearbox modifications can help with cruising speed though as you can safely sit at 60mph without over-stressing a good engine.


It doesn’t have whistles and bells (it does have a proper loud honking horn). Its all terrain capability comes from the driver knowing how to use the tools provided. It is geared for two wheel drive in high ratio (road use)  and has a high and low ratio four wheel drive – and if used correctly it’ll get you out of anything.

More modern 4×4’s (like the ones you see on school runs) rely more on computers than driving skills, which explains why you see more and more 4×4’s NOT GOING ANYWHERE in the snow, because people THINK the car can do it all itself. It can’t! You have to know what you are doing and how to use it! Most modern 4×4’s are just wasted on clueless numpty posers who think the car can go anywhere…. and up up getting stuck when their skill runs out.

The main question with any car is; “What do you need?” – A Land Rover makes a useless boy racer car, a Ferrari makes a useless family car, a Clio makes a useless utility car, and a Nissan LEAF makes a useless long range sports car…. You have to buy for what your needs are – and you have to weigh up what your needs are before you start to criticize what any particular vehicle can do…

The old Land Rovers were built to cross huge distances with really simple maintenance… If anything went wrong, the damned things could still limp home with engines rattling and gear boxes hanging off…..

For us though, Frank leaves a huge grin on our faces. It’s a simple, rugged vehicle that came up at a good price at the right time. Frank is perfect for Chris and her work with horses, where she needs a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week, rain, sun, snow and ice capable vehicle that can take the knocks without any concerns  about getting stuck somewhere, and that the dent you just put in the wing won’t write the car off due to the insurance expense of fixing it… (you can fit a new front wing to Frank for under £30…..).


About LB View all posts by LB

11 responses to “The Joy of Old Land Rover Ownership

  • The Land Rover and Range Rover Weekly | Land Rover Blog

    […] There is possibly nothing that gets our wheels moving more than reading tales about your vehicles. Land Rover fan, Lucas Black recently shared with us his experiences driving ‘Frank’ – 1977 (88″) Series III 2.25l on the Land Rover Facebook page. Like a proud father, Lucas is full of compliments with regards to Frank’s capabilities and shares some brilliant pictures of his Series lll vehicle on his blog. […]

  • Mahāyāna « Sometimespace

    […] most economical or comfortable beasts, but they have a lot going for them – as I mentioned HERE. Inertia 3 point […]

  • On Roading… « Sometimespace

    […] This is our 88″ Series 3 on well maintained roads & a dual carriageway (at a break neck 45mph)… and some speed-bumps… Let’s face it, they weren’t made for comfort… as I already explained HERE… […]

  • JLR: Image | A Blog by Oumilie

    […] This is a link to a blog site about a Laney named ‘The 88’ or ‘Frank’. It’s a comedic post written from the perspective by the owner of a faithful Land Rover. I have included this because it shows that the original slogan for Land Rover; “For the Young and Young in Heart” hasn’t changed since it’s conception in 1947, people still buy Land Rovers as big toys, and love them nonetheless even through their faults. […]

  • mud4fun

    Excellent post, I’d not seen it before. Had me grinning widely. 🙂

  • LB


    I think I captured it quite well…

  • mud4fun

    “I think I captured it quite well…”

    Of course you forgot to mention the diesels like our two and they have some additional traits that would be purchasers need to be aware of:

    Advantages of a 2.25 diesel Series Land Rover – gets 26-28mpg around town and as much as 33mpg on the motorway (in good condition)

    Disadvantages of a 2.25 diesel Series Land Rover – so noisy inside the non sound insulated cabin that it is akin to putting some gravel in a biscuit tin and putting that inside a washing machine on 1200 spin while you are also inside the same washing machine. Also, while performance is on a par with the petrol on flat roads you will find that on hills a cyclist is capable of overtaking you.

    We’ve fitted huge 33″ tyres to our 109″ and these have the advantage of improving gearing such that the vehicle can cruise at 50mph at just 2300rpm and in conjunction with the O/D means she can do a steady 70mph with relative ease on the motorway.

    However those 33″ tyres mean that the already slow 2.25 diesel now has the acceleration of a garden snail and on hills even horse riders will be getting held up.

    My wife and I love them anyway 🙂

  • LB

    They’re not slow, they’re deliberately sure footed…

  • CommsBlogMaintaining and modifying your Classic Land Rover Series, Defender or Discovery with Workshop Manuals and Maintenance Guides » CommsBlog

    […] Landy, you have to read this blog article I found from one of my Twitter followers [link], or you also might want to add a warning light buzzer to stop your battery going flat […]

  • Julie

    Brilliant I giggled all the way through 😂

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