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Last Updated 7/17/07

The Series 3 Land Rover in the USA - a Brief History

Jim Young's Series III Land Rover on the 2000 Border to Border expedition

Annual sales of the Land Rover Series IIA in North America had dropped below 1,000 for a few years prior to 1971 and the British Leyland Company, who then owned Land Rover, removed their Rover passenger car from the North American market due to poor sales figures.

The Series III Land Rover first became available in the UK in September 1971 and in North America during the first half of 1972 - in the form of an 88in Deluxe Hardtop. It was a hybrid of the Series Station Wagon and the hardtop and had already been introduced as a Series II body style in the UK a few years earlier. The Series II Deluxe Hardtop had the Station Wagon upper body sides and rear door, together with the inward facing rear seats (unlike the traditional station wagon, which had 4 separate seats). The Series II & III 88in Deluxe Hardtop were specific to the North American market.

The Series III Land Rover had some other noticeable differences from its closest standard UK counterpart; such as larger front and rear indicator lenses, side reflectors, 15inch instead of 16inch wheels and emission control equipment to comply with US emissions regulations.

The engine was the 2.25 litre gasoline model with vacuum retard on the distributor to reduce emissions at idling speed (in use since 1967). No diesel engine option was available.

In 1973 a charcoal canister for vapour recovery was added and all these emissions control items sapped power from the already struggling engine. Series III Land Rovers of this period had 67bhp at 4000rpm and 115 lb ft torque at 1500rpm.

Then in 1975/76 the emissions control regulations were to be tightened further. In order to meet these requirements the engine would have to be extensively modified and the costs could not be passed onto the North American customer as sales were low and the price for a Series III Land Rover on the West Coast was already almost $5,000.

In the summer of 1974
British Leyland ceased to export Series III Land Rovers to the North American market. They simply couldn't be made environmentally friendly in terms of their emissions.

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Fascinating facts
(No.62 )
The first Shorland Armoured Patrol Cars were built on Series IIa chassis and served in Northern Ireland.


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