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1979 LAND ROVER Series III 109

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1979 LAND ROVER Series III 109


For those of us of a certain age, the fact that the Land Rover Series III was launched 47 years ago is hard to believe. While it was (at best) a lightly fettled Series II, it was a welcome update for those folk for whom Solihull’s finest provided the only viable transport to get them around their farms and across vast swathes of the Third World.

And while the 2.25-litre diesel engine isn’t the last word in power or refinement, its 62bhp is reliably developed across a wide rev range and it will run forever on the merest whiff of an oily rag. It is, therefore, utterly in keeping with the rest of the vehicle, which is distinctly agricultural but as tough as a miner’s steel-toe-capped boots.

The 73bhp petrol engine, on the other hand, might displace the same as its diesel stablemate but it is a completely different animal being silky smooth and a joy to rev. Not so much of a joy when it is time to fill up of course but then everything in life has a cost and most agree that the moderate increase in fuel consumption is a small price to pay for what is indisputably a much nicer driving experience.

Of course, if money is no object – either up-front or on an ongoing basis – then the mighty Buick 3.5-litre V8 engine, long with the well-regarded LT95 manual gearbox and permanent four-wheel-drive drivetrain, made its first appearance in a utility Land Rover product. Detuned to develop a lowly 91bhp so as not to compete with the Range Rover, its massive torque was what drew buyers to it, that and its ability to gulp even the poorest quality fuel and still run well.

A 2.6-litre, straight-six petrol engine with 86bhp was also offered in the long wheelbase models, but it was never a popular option when new and is even rarer now.

It was available with either an 88” wheelbase (the short wheelbase model, or SWB) or a 109”, the long wheelbase or LWB. Other factory options included a soft-top as well as a fixed-roof, and the latter was available with the much prized ‘Safari roof’, a double-skinned arrangement that is said to reduce the ambient temperature inside the cab thanks to a cooling flow of air betwixt the two.

You could choose your new LWB Land Rover as a Station Wagon with either ten or 12 seats (the latter was classed as a minibus, so was very tax-efficient…), a van or pickup – and even that was available in two flavours;’ standard and High Capacity, with the latter holding 25% more than the already capacious standard pickup.

The nifty, ultra-maneuverable SWB could be had in the same configurations albeit seating fewer people.

But the Series III was never about refinement, power, or handling; it was built to conquer the world and is the latest in a long line of Land Rovers that helped explorers, farmers, construction workers and the military get to where they needed to be. It is a genuinely iconic vehicle, and much prized as a result.

Oh, and they can be repaired and maintained by anyone with an adjustable spanner and a pocketful of loose change making them ideal as a starter classic, especially when you consider their rock-solid residuals.

The Vehicle

First registered on the 1st of December 1979, this wonderful Land Rover 109 Fitted For Radio (FFR) 24V Series III is ex-British Territorial Army, reportedly used as a radio truck by the British Army in Northern Ireland with the 4/5 Rangers (V) and 57 Log Sp Sqn RLC. As a ‘soft-skinned’ vehicle it was almost certainly never used in an operational role and probably spent a large part of its life in storage, something that would explain the low mileage its showing.

The vendors acquired ‘Dusty’ from Mark and Chris, two British military re-enactment enthusiasts who had been displaying it at military exhibitions. John, one of the 109’s joint owners, was in the British Army for 30 years and is passionate about military Land Rovers, having been in and around them since he was 16. He has spent the last three years restoring a half-ton Lightweight Series III while Duncan, the other half of the partnership, is a fellow long-time Land Rover and classic car enthusiast and current Discovery owner.

Finished in Desert Sand (it was originally NATO Green) over a NATO Green interior, we’ll detail the refurbishment in later sections but suffice it to say that it’s been gone through with much recent expenditure. Now running well and looking great, Dusty is ready to go to a new home and its next owner can continue to titivate gently as and when the need arises, or could go all-in and continue the cosmetic restorative work that John and Duncan have started.

On the Outside

Finished in Desert Sand, this old Landy has an impressive presence, something its double front bumpers, twin shackles, and bonnet-mounted spare wheel contribute to in no small way.

A new black Exmoor Trim canopy has been fitted, and the presence of windows gives much better visibility than the standard one ever did. (Speaking of which, the original faded green one is included in the sale if the new owner would like it.)

The hood sticks are in good shape, which isn’t something we get to write very often with old Landies. The presence of this soft-top adds considerably to the vehicle’s flexibility, giving a decent level of weather protection in the winter allied to genuine open-air motoring in the summer.

Speaking of cold weather fun, the front grill is fitted with a radiator muff that can be opened or closed depending on the season. New period-correct numberplates have been fitted, too.

The 16-inch steel wheels, which are finished in the same colour as the body, are fitted with four new Goodyear G90 MT tyres in the correct size of 7.50x16.

As we will never tire of explaining, our experience shows that matching high-quality tyres are an infallible sign of a caring and mechanically sympathetic owner who is prepared to spend the appropriate amount in maintaining their car properly. Their presence does not, of course, preclude the need for a thorough inspection - something the vendor would welcome, by the way – but it does perhaps give you a shortcut into their attitude towards maintenance.

Flaws? Well, this is very much a working vehicle – and nothing wears a patina better than a Land Rover. But, for the sake of completeness the front right wing has been repaired, as shown in the pictures; a non-military rear crossmember replaces the original military version; there is minor corrosion is in the rear leaf springs, and under the bonnet and on the front bulkhead; and the offside front ventilation flap is a bit wibbly.

There are also, of course, some chips, dents, and scratches in the paintwork commensurate with its military service and 40 years on this planet.

On the Inside

The interior, which is still finished in NATO Green, is in decent shape. Fitted with a pair of new front and rear black vinyl seats from Britpart, it also benefits from a new front seat turn-buckle, new rubber mats, and a rear-view mirror.

The heavy lifting, including restoring the front door window channels, has been done inside, leaving the new owner free to trim it to their own tastes as and when money and motivation collide.

Wonderfully, it also comes with a set of military FFR Dexion radio racking as well as the original front and rear seats in case the buyer would like to retain the original worn items.

There are also some fixtures, fittings, and switches from its previous role, none of which makes sense to any of us in the office but then we’re soft civilians; the ex-military among you will appreciate not only their function but also their presence, we’re sure.


The ever-popular and silky smooth 2.25-litre petrol engine is paired with a four-speed manual transmission and two-speed transfer case. Comprehensively refurbished, a professional compression test in October 2020 showed 160-165psi in all cylinders.

The ignition system and carburettor were also tuned and set up in November of this year; these two jobs alone account for nearly a thousand pounds. Please see the two invoices for details.

It has also had both fuel tanks and fuel pipes cleaned and fitted with a new fuel pick-up pipe filter, underseat filters, and new gaskets; the radiator expansion tank was removed, cleaned, and refitted; the washer bottle was removed, cleaned and refitted and the pump replaced along with the thermostat; and a new heater control valve has been fitted along with a new radiator muff.

The vendors have shot five videos showing the Land Rover being started both hot and cold, as well as being driven:

We’ve driven it and can confirm that it drives as a Landy should, but then given the fettling it’s received recently, that’s not much of a surprise, is it?

The chassis has been undersealed.

History Highlights

This Land Rover’s MOT certificate is currently valid until December 2021. There is a sheif of documents detailing previous work carried out, plus a spare key (see photo).

We would encourage you to come and inspect the vehicle prior to placing a bid, and a socially-distanced viewing can be arranged by appointment at our depot near Abingdon in Oxfordshire anytime between 9:00am - 5:00pm, Monday to Friday. 

If you’d rather not come to see the car in person during these tough Covid times, why not get in touch and ask for a WhatsApp or FaceTime video call? You get to direct one of our team in real-time, thereby giving you a personal virtual viewing experience.

What We Think

If you enjoy sipping a hot drink from the comfort of your heated seats while driving to work (remember when we used to go to work?) on a frosty winter morning then this ain’t the vehicle for you. Not only does it lack heated seats, it doesn’t even have a cupholder to hold your soya-milk latte…

And yet, if you don’t mind going Old School then running a Series Landy holds many delights, not least of which is that they can be left sitting for months at a time without worry; all you do is jump in, pump the throttle a couple of times and it’s almost certain to fire into life. This makes them ideal for folk who want an occasional classic for beach barbeques, a spot of muddy fun, fetching logs, or just to keep mobile in the snow.

It is also enormous fun to drive, drawing attention wherever it goes; we’re all becoming used to a near-constant stream of bad news, so the value of having a vehicle in your life that never fails to lift your mood and bring a smile to your face cannot be under-estimated.

(It's a bonus, as you can see in the photos, this one’s Desert Sand colour makes it ideal for a game of autumnal hide-and-seek…)

Priced to sell, we think it’ll fetch somewhere between £7,000 and £12,000 but that’s almost irrelevant; if you’ve got the money earning sod-all interest in the bank, this is a far more interesting way of tucking it away for a while, surely?

Inspection is always encouraged (within Govt. guidelines of course), and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

If needed, please remember we have a network of trusted suppliers we work with regularly and can recommend: Classic & Sportscar Finance for purchase-financing, Footman James for classic car insurance, Classic Concierge for storing your car plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at the vehicles delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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  • Location: Abingdon, Oxfordshire
  • Odometer Reading: 40600
  • Chassis Number: 91111093D
  • Engine: 2250
  • Gearbox: MANUAL
  • Colour: Sand
  • Interior: Black leather

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