When buying a used Land-Rover ?

by Takeo De Meter

Everybody who ever wrote something about Landies must have handled this subject at least once and all have reached, more or less, the same conclusions. So why bother on a rainy and cold Sunday afternoon ? Becaused of bored stiff ? Nah. Mainly because my loving wife threatened to slap me with a wet floor mop if she would not hear my keyboard cracking RIGHT NOW. So what does a decent guy do under such a threat ? Ya guessed it: get on with it. So here goes. (grrr).

The seasoned used Landy buyer can skip my writings altogether, of course, but some novice, aspirant, apprentice, candidate, dreamer (I almost wrote wannabe) Land-Rover Owner may find some profit (I mean $$$) here if lucky.

When considering the purchase of a used Land-Rover, there are some preliminary considerations to be considerated, which may not be directly related to mechanical questions, such as budget, wife‘s / husband‘s yuck tolerance threshold (if you have a zero yuck tolerance life companion, forget it), driveway cleanliness factor, neighbour sleep factor (don‘t buy anything with an unmuffled V8 if you like to wake up on Sunday mornings at 5 AM and take her for a spin if yer neighbour likes to sleep in on Sundays), kid quantity factor (get a 109 instead of an 88 if ya got more than 8 rugrats), camper trailer factor – what do you want to pull through da desert 1,200 lbs or 5 tons ? I do not mention horse boxes since horses are considered food here and one is not supposed to play with his or her food, and I think betting on food is also sick. $ 10 on a steak or 2 lbs of baloney called Dancing Arabian Prince sounds real weird to me. Please also add more of your own personal socio-cultural, environmental or just mental, green (white, red and blue) factors to the list of „other“ than mechanical consideratations before counting you hard-earned greenbacks in the hand of the guy who is ripping ya off anhyhow.

So, after carefully having examined the exogen factors for impedimenta to your decision and having counted your black money, you may start looking around. First of all, make sure to click this link: and get familiar with the terminology used therein. Then, go for it.

The ideal used Land-Rover ought to be dead cheap, not more than 3 (three) years old, in mint (concours) condition, have not more that 500 miles on the clock and a fully documented service history. New tires, hydraulic winch, airco, documented waxoyl treatment, galvanized chassis, GPS, full stainless steel roof rack and NO dog hair on the carpets are also to be considered important assets. If you are now thinking that I am pulling your leg, rest assured. I am.

For all I know there is no such thing as a „decent-value-for-money“ Landy for sale. Either it is way too expensive or there is a snag somewhere. So what you are actually after, is finding the snags in the Landy that carries your fancy.

So, for the sake of the argument, let‘s imagine that your eye fell on an decent-looking 1982 Series III 109 V8 a.k.a. Stage One, offered to you at the price of EUR 2,000. Sounds good, since the 109 V8 is slowly becoming a collector‘s item, being the only decent Series III ever built. So how do you go about it ? Easy.

Bring your overalls and crawl underneath it in the seller‘s yard. Also bring a small hammer, about 200 grams in weight and tap ALL the chassis surfaces you can get at. When the sound becomes duller, be weary and tap a little harder. If a hole appears, you found a rotten spot. Thsi may be local, however, and easy to repair, so make sure you tap ALL of the chassis and get an overview of the bad spots so that you can decide whether it is worth it or not.

Next thing you want to check for rot is the front bulkhead or firewall. The side pillars should be good. Gearbox and engine can easily be checked by driving the contraption for some 50 miles. Anything shorter will not tell you anything about the vehicle, since you have to get somewhat used to the sounds, particular to THAT vehicle. You will also find something out about the brakes after 50 miles.

All the rest is relatively unimportant. Point is, that at the moment of purchase, you have something that you can drive away. You know on beforehand that after a while you will have to fix leaks, get a new battery, re-do the brakes, possibly get another (cheap) engine etc. When your money is paid and you are the proud owner of that piece of junk you fell in love with, you will have been able to assess if this INITIAL investment was well spent. You will also know that you may well spend the rest of your miserable life investing more into it. After you paid your divorce lawyer, that is.

So I think that the best buy is something that you can drive home and of which you have a vague idea of how much you are going to spend over the next years to keep it running. Look, if someone -anyone- tries to flog you a „fully refurbished“, shiny and polished 15 year old Landy, chances are that he is making a lot of money with a can of paint and some „cockpit spray“. He would have the same expenditure as anyone to „fully refurbish‘ anything that old and that would make the old smoke prohibitively expensive in the first place. Be weary of shiny stuff. Ever seen a poor used car dealer ?


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