1980 Land rover santana 88 (SERIES III) w/ overdrive
at a glance
ENGINE: 2.25L Rover Diesel
TRANSMISSION: 4-speed manual with FACTORY OVERDRIVE.
MILEAGE: 153.772 km (95,338 miles)
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
At Autology Motors, with a few exceptions, we tend to prefer our Range Rovers restored, our Defenders modified, and our Series trucks original and showing honest patina, and this 88 fits that modus operandi to a “T.” Purchased from the original owner - an elderly estate owner from Girona - it has been driven regularly and serviced meticulously, serving as a “property inspection” vehicle in the hills and countryside of the previous owner’s rather expansive land holdings. Although it now wears some of the signs of a life of proper use, it wears them very, very well. Just the way we like it.
Everything cosmetic is largely original, and holding up very well. The bodywork is straight and panels gaps are excellent throughout. The paint - with the only signs of refinishing in a couple small areas around the rear corners - is still remarkably lustrous and even, proof of its garage kept nature. The original black beltline trim has aged wonderfully, as have the wheels, badges and trim, but they have a fantastic patina and we couldn’t bear to restore them.
Inside, the original three abreast front seats have been recovered at some point in the past, but in the correct original pattern and with factory-style stitch patterns. The four individually-folding rear jump seats are original and undamaged, showing their age only with slight fading to the upholstery. Perhaps most surprising, and most unusually, this 88 still has its original door panels and center tunnel carpeting - a very rare find and all in excellent shape.
Underneath, the chassis is entirely free of structural rust, with typical light surface corrosion, but absolutely no perforation or concerns anywhere. Not in the frame, bulkheads, cross members, suspension pickup points, floors or doors. This is a very, very solid vehicle that would be considered “rust free” in the structural sense.
With lovely period details, like yellow driving lamps on the front bumper, and with meaty oversized tires giving a stout appearance, it looks the business, this 88, and can back it up with the type of legendary rough-terrain performance that made Series Landys the vehicle of choice in the world’s harshest environs.
WHAT'S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
Series III’s are great trucks, and the 88’s are extremely appealing for most daily use. Far more manageable and “pointable” than their larger 109 chassis brothers, the 88 is nimble, useable and fits anywhere - from the tight medieval streets of Grenada to the open spaces of Death Valley. And although they seat six people easily, and seven in a pinch, an 88 is far more pleasant to maneuver through tight logging trails and city parking spaces than any 109 ever made.
On this example, factory overdrive extends the legs and makes cruising at modern speeds far more pleasant. The 2.25L Rover diesel fires easily, with excellent compression across all four cylinders and no undue smoke or noise. In “normal” ranges on the gearbox, it accelerates with surprising alacrity, and will bolt off the line pretty quickly when you give it the beans. In “overdrive” (which can be shifted on the fly, as long as you use the clutch) the higher road speeds become quite relaxed, and the little 88 will pull itself up to a maximum cruising speed of nearly 65 miles per hour, making modern highway travel possible if necessary. Oh, and if things get really sticky, there is always low range, which makes the 88 nearly unstoppable in difficult terrain.
Off road is where any Series Land Rover really comes into its own, and it’s easy to dismiss these things as cute little vintage trucks that are better to look at than to drive. But don’t make that mistake. Off road, an 88 is still a match for almost any 4x4 ever made, and with the oversized Cooper Discoverer STT’s on this example, it’s even more true here. Mud, sand, fallen trees, rocks, grille deep water… the 88 will shrug it all off and keep on chugging, so when you get your 88, make sure you actually use it. Take the kids camping. Fill it with fishing rods and reach that high mountain stream no one else can drive to. Lash some boards to the sides and find the surf breaks that only the locals know about. Or just explore, confident the Land Rover will get you there and back again, almost regardless of where “there” is.
Everything works as it should on this one. The clutch takes up at the correct height and bites well, the gearchange is notchy and reassuring, with no grinding up or down. Steering is direct and well balanced, and the brakes haul it down from any (attainable) speed with no noise, pulling or vibration. All lights and electrics work exactly as they should, and it needs nothing for daily. use