1981 land rover SANTANA 88 (Series III)

 

AT A GLANCE

ENGINE:  2.25L Rover diesel
TRANSMISSION:  Four-speed manual with 2-speed 4WD transfer case
MILEAGE:  89.324 km (55,380 miles)
EXTERIOR:  Pastel Green with White roof and wheels
INTERIOR:  Black
PRICE: $13,900

 

what does it look like?

Classic, almost entirely original, and beautifully kept, this Series III has some of the late updates and unusual interior appointments that make it a rare and particularly usable example. It has fantastic curb appeal and looks good inside also, with enormous charm and just the right hint of honest patina.

The Pastel Green bodywork is holding up beautifully after one careful respray about eight years ago, and the same is true of the white roof and original wheels. The original galvanized beltline trim is straight and maintains its mottled appearance, and all the little exterior details are correct and in place.

Inside, the first thing you notice is the split front bench seating, a late option that isn’t terribly common but makes the passenger compartment more comfortable for two people, and even three people in a pinch. The factory central tunnel covering is correct and undamaged, and the dashboard has just a few little hairline splits along the top panel. In the back, four individually-folding rear jump buckets offer a supremely flexible arrangement, as each can be secured up or folded down depending on needs, or even quickly removed entirely in pairs for maximum cargo capacity.

Underneath, the chassis is straight and clean and entirely rust free, with no damage or knocks, an indication this vehicle spent pretty much its entire life on tarmac.

With split front and rear doors, the entire roof can be removed, as can the upper portions of all three doors, allowing you to run the vehicle fully open, and driving an 88 with the roof off is as close to pure freedom as life gets. You can even fold the windscreen down if you’re feeling randy.

It’s a fantastically charming 88, this one, and gets a tremendous amount of attention wherever we drive it.

 

WHAT'S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?

It fires from a touch with minimal warming of the glow plugs needed, and does everything an 88 should do. The two-and-a-quarter liter Rover diesel is as plucky and trouble free as engines come, and has a reputation for nearly “unkillable” durability. Bear in mind, these were built to be used in some of the most remote locations on the planet, in the harshest conditions imaginable, where routine maintenance isn’t always even possible, much less a household term. With incredibly low original mileage and always benefitting from proper maintenance, this 88 is just hitting its stride.

The freshly rebuilt gearbox is notchy and precise, and the new clutch is strong and engages with authority. Underway the truck makes excellent power and pulls from any RPM cleanly and directly, with a new fuel distributor and fresh full service. With slightly longer gearing than earlier Series III models, it’s more relaxed on tarmac, but still has all the muscle and authority off road to power through, over or around anything you are likely to encounter. The unassisted steering is heavy in parking lots, but lightens up immediately when moving, aided no doubt by the original sized tires, and the brakes are strong and sure.

All the lights and gauges work as designed, and the truck has recently passed the strict Spanish ITV inspection, affirming everything is in proper working condition.

On road of off, it does everything it’s supposed to do, and its ready for daily use taking you wherever you want to go. The original Land Rover slogan, “Go anywhere, do anything,” was coined for these Series trucks, and this one delivers with a mix of charming originality and simple reliability that makes it an easy and enjoyable runabout in all conditions.

Available now for immediate delivery.