1976 Land rover santana 88 (SERIES III) w/2.5L 12J engine

 

at a glance

          ENGINE:  2.5L Land Rover Defender 12J Diesel
          TRANSMISSION:  4-speed manual with 2-speed transfer case and locking front hubs
          MILEAGE: 158.072 km (98,004 miles), 200 miles on block-up engine rebuild
          EXTERIOR:  Marine Blue Satin
          INTERIOR: Black
          PRICE:  $16,000

 

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?

In classic (and correct) satin-finish Marine Blue paint, tan canvas roof and white Defender wheels with 7.5x16 tubeless tires, it has the timeless Series III look in a soft top form all ready for summer. Straight, clean, structurally rust-free and with a freshly rebuilt 2.5L engine, it looks the business and drives with vastly superior power and driveability similar to an early Defender.

Everything cosmetic has been attended to. The bodywork is straight and panels gaps are excellent throughout. The paint - applied with the satin finish of the original Series III - is done to a high standard. The original galvanized beltline trim has aged wonderfully and other exterior details, free of damage, have the correct gentle touch of patina.

Inside, the original three abreast front seats have ew foams and have been recovered in correct black vinyl. The twin folding rear jump benches are brand new. The tan soft top, constructed from the original style “double duck” English canvas is fitted over a new galvanized hoop set.

Underneath, the chassis is entirely free of structural rust, with 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 from top to bottom.

The Defender wheels, which look very much like their Series III counterparts, are more modern and tubeless, and have been fitted with new 7.5x16 tires for a chunky, stylish look and additional ground clearance. 

 

WHAT'S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?

Driving an original Series III 88, particularly a soft top, is as close to pure freedom as motoring gets. With a freshly rebuild 2.5L 12J Defender engine, this example has substantially more power and mid range torque, giving you the flexibility to run with modern traffic on all but the fastest highways, and providing a driving experience that is still classic… yet better in pretty much every way.

Wired with Defender glow plug circuitry, the new engine fires quickly with minimal warming necessary even in the coldest weather, and settles into a smooth and relaxed idle with no smoke or clatter. Select first and with a new clutch the 88 jumps off the line with authority, the gearbox snicking up and down through the cogs with the notchy precision of a rifle bolt. Steering, typically heavy at parking lot speeds, lightens up underway, and is direct and precise at all times. Recently serviced, the brakes haul the 88 down from any attainable speed without drama, noise, vibration, or drifting. And when you’re done for they day? Just turn the key off. With Defender wiring, the engine just shuts off. None of this “pulling out the kill plunger” business like a typical Series III.

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 as being 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 7.5x16” rubber 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. All lights and electrics work exactly as they should, it has been freshly serviced and it needs nothing for daily use

 

WALKAROUND VIDEO: