1981 Land Rover Series 3

The Highlights

• Solid chassis and bulkhead
• Current ownership for 8 years
• Original body style and finish

The Background

The Series III Land Rover was introduced at the start of the ’70s, as a well-resolved facelift model of the original. It retained much of the older versions ability and charm but also carried over many of its vices. This rarely deters the masochistic tendencies of a classic Land Rover owner, who values the vehicle's abilities, functional design and stoic character. 

As a traditional farm hack, it is as much a part of the countryside as the fields, hills, and changing weather, which is why this British icon will always have an appeal. 

This green 1981 Series III 88” model, retains much of its original features and has not been subjected to any form of aesthetic upgrade. Furthermore, it has been used for its original purpose and was, until it was kitted out with a refurbed interior, no stranger to transporting farm stock across the Oxfordshire pastures. 

A considerable amount of effort has been carried out to ensure that the structure is solid and has also been fitted with a torquey and reliable Daihatsu engine, which offers it a further element of dependability. 

The History

Bought specifically as a farm tool, the car was obtained from Somerset after the last owner had used it as a daily driver. The car was complete and original, although it required welding, which was carried throughout the course of the present owner's eight years of possession. 

Asides from bringing up the chassis and bulkhead up to a decent level, the engine was also replaced with a Daihatsu Fourtrak 2.5-litre Diesel unit. Following the overhaul of the seats and interior, the car's function as a vehicle for moving animals, hay bales, and refuge decreased, and it has spent more and more time in a dry barn, having only logged roughly 1000 miles, and is now for sale. 

The Paperwork

The car comes with a current V5 and comes with receipts for parts that have been replaced, such as a set of new springs, a battery and new passenger door tops. New brakes were fitted a few months ago, and largely due to the owner's interest and knowledge in classic cars, this car has been continuously subject to fettling and maintenance. 

The metalwork renovation was carried out by a friend, which included the chassis, front footwells and A-pillar Bulkhead sections at the base of the bonnet. The car will be legible for free road tax from next year and it currently does not hold an MOT.

The Interior

As one would expect for a car that has spent time on a working farm, the interior shows typical signs of use, but like the exterior, the key elements are all positive. The seats are in good condition, having been subject to a refurb over the last 8 years and as a result, they are free from rips or blemishes and retain a healthy firmness. 

The heavy-duty rubber mats are in good health and well up to the job. Other elements of the interior have also seen refurbishment, the black padded sections such as the door cards and dashboard base are good with some recent, rather than historical wear. The facia is generally good, with one crack noted on the top of the dashboard. 

The rocker switches, controls, dials, levers and steering wheel show typical age-related wear. The rear section has seen plenty of use, but under the circumstances has worn well and thanks to the decent condition of the unripped and tidy bench seats and rubber mat, is reasonably clean and presentable. 

The Exterior 

The body is complete and original, it may have originally been sold as a hardtop but now now serves as a 3 door. The car is structurally sound, with many of the car's traditional weak points having been addressed during the present owner's care.  

Because of the attention to the structure, the bulkhead is in good shape, with the pillars, top frame and footwells all looking good too. The engine bay is solid, with some surface rust observed. The chassis has also seen attention and is fit for purpose. A check on the cross members looks positive with a decent standard of repair adding confidence to the structural rigidity. 

Externally, this example has to be described as honest. As a working vehicle, the owner didn’t obsess over the panel condition, with a fair amount of ‘farmers wings’ evident, it adds a certain charm and authenticity to this 40-year-old. As a whole, the aluminium panels do show wear but appear to be free from any significant corrosion. 

Steel sections such as the door frames, under-seat storage boxes and protective cappings are in good shape with no significant damage. The roof is solid, with just the front off-side top guttering showing a copious amount of sealant. Like the body, it shows wear and tear but is a good fit. There is minor water penetration from the driver's door roof; the owner has done his utmost to seal the roof gutter, but a little amount of rain water continues to pool on the rubber mat. 

There is no major trace of water in the cabin because the car has been housed in a barn. The driver door needs a little force to close, according to the owner, this may be due to the hinge not quite fitting true to the body. However, the door does remain in place once slammed and there is no danger of it flying open in action. The bonnet stay is functional but it would be advisable to investigate its fitnesses to ensure it is in the best working order. The insides of the driver's door has seen a messy repair but is holding up.

The paint finish is even throughout, having been hand-painted which looks presentable. There is a minor crack noted on the driver side glass. The rest of the glass is good, with the expected amount of blemishes. The window and door rubbers are good too, with an odd sign of perishing noted in the door apertures. 

The body fittings, such as the lights, grille, mirrors and body details are in line with the condition and age of the vehicle and are all functional and without significant damage. The front bumper is in very good condition, suggesting that it may be a recent fitting. 

The steel wheels show some surface corrosion and minor rim damage but are solid and along with the tyres, have plenty of life left in them. The tyres are likely to be older than 20 years old, but shows plenty of tread. 

The Mechanics 

While much of the car is original vintage Land Rover, the owner has retrofitted a 2.5-litre Daihatsu Diesel engine, which may well upset the purists but it is a well-established conversion. With S3 values creeping up, the next owner may want to consider re-installing an original Solihull power plant, but the Japanese unit has proved to be trouble-free, robust and runs well.

The start-up is effortless, with a little blast of smoke, which soon disappears when the car is in motion. The engine sounds typically ‘agricultural’ but there were no unwanted noises coming from the block.

The ride is as you might expect for a 40-year-old Land Rover, but with the benefit of new springs, the car is evenly balanced and of course, comes into its own when in use across the tracks and fields. The owner has also used it on-road and thanks to its recently fitted brakes, it stops well with no issues. Electrically the car is said to be good.

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The Appeal

Solid and honest Series III Land Rovers are getting harder to find, as their values are positively influenced by the demand of the earlier cars. Series III examples are really not that much different to the iconic S1 and S2 models and retain the elegant simplicity of the concept with an improved concession to safety.

This car has a lack of showy additions and its brutal honesty is part of its appeal. Its excellent structural foundations offer a reasonable compromise for aesthetic originality with a rustic weathered coat, with time and money invested where it really counts.

Potentially the car is a candidate to use as is, or bring up to scratch, either way your credibility will never be in doubt.

Notice to bidders

Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.

As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the seller's discretion.

Please see our FAQ's here and our Terms & Conditions here

Please see our FAQ's here and our Terms & Conditions here

Vehicle specification
  • Year 1981
  • Make Land Rover
  • Model Series 3
  • Colour Green
  • Odometer 82,514 Miles
  • Engine size 2530
  • Town Banbury
Auction Details
  • Seller Type Private
  • Location Oxfordshire
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
33 bids
  • e.•••• £6,500 04/11/21
  • Su•••• £6,400 04/11/21
  • e.•••• £6,300 04/11/21
  • Su•••• £6,200 04/11/21
  • Ja•••• £6,100 04/11/21
  • Su•••• £6,000 04/11/21
  • Ja•••• £5,900 04/11/21
  • Su•••• £5,800 04/11/21
  • Ja•••• £5,700 04/11/21
  • Su•••• £5,600 04/11/21

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