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1972 Land Rover Series IIA long-term review

By Dean Mellor, 06 Jul 2019 Reviews

1972 Land Rover Series IIA long-term review part 1

Deano’s other Landy sparks Simpson Desert dreaming.

Introduction: Box Fresh

I SEARCHED far and wide for the “right” Land Rover. I wanted a late-model Series IIA with the headlights on the fenders rather than in the grille, preferably green, rust-free, with the original running gear and in sound mechanical condition. In other words, something like the first Landy I ever owned, but not as rough.

I looked all over the country before finding this nice restored example about five minutes’ drive from my front door. It ticked all the boxes, but the vendor was asking a bit more than I was willing to spend. After a couple of days of negotiations, we agreed on a price and the SIIA was mine.

I’ve been told the old Landy once belonged to a Mayor of the Eurobodalla Shire on the NSW South Coast. The fellow I purchased it from had completely stripped it and rebuilt the thing. And yes, while it’s hardly in showroom condition, it scrubs up alright and has so far proven mechanically reliable (knock on wood).

The Landy runs the original 2.25L four-cylinder petrol engine, which is standard other than a Stromberg (Holden) carburettor and extractors – the former rubbing on the underside of the bonnet and the latter providing a tasty exhaust note under full throttle.

4x4 History: 70 years of Land Rover

The four-speed gearbox offers a positive shift and the clutch provides progressive engagement. Of course, there’s no synchro in first or second gears, so shifting requires a combination of patience, revs and timing in the lower ratios, but shifting into third and fourth gears is smooth and easy.

The leaf springs have been refurbished; although, they’re not set quite right, so the Landy leans to the right somewhat. When I get a chance, I’ll take them out and have them reset.

The repainted steel rims wear 235/85R16 BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2s. This is the same rubber I run on my 1994 Defender, which will certainly come in handy if I ever need an extra spare for a big trip.

If you don’t look too closely the Landy appears pretty tidy. It has new lights, the seats have been recovered in black vinyl and the whole vehicle has had a respray, inside and out. The nearside front guard is off a Series III Landy, hence the vent in the side, but other than that it’s quite original.

One of the first things I did when I got the Landy home was remove the roof, so it’s a fair-weather vehicle until I track down a stick set and buy a canvas roof.

Other than drive it, all I’ve done to date is source a couple of clamps and bolts to put the spare tyre on the bonnet, but I’ve reverted to tying it down in the tub for the time being. I need to run the Landy at least once a week or it gets a little hard to start, so it currently does the school run on Friday afternoons as well as regular weekend runs to the beach.

The long-term plan? I’m keen to drive the little Landy across the Simpson Desert one day, while wearing a big bloody hat with the roof down, but I reckon I might have to ship it to Alice Springs and start the trip from there, because it’d be a long (and expensive) trip under its own steam. Hey, it never hurts to dream, right?

4x4 Shed Log 1: 1972 Land Rover Series IIA
Current mileage: 6926km
Date acquired: November 2017
Price: $8500
Mileage this month: N/A
Average fuel consumption: N/A

Update 1: Prepping for the Simpson

The Simpson? Seriously?

I HAVE owned my little 1972 Land Rover Series IIA for 18 months now and in that time the only thing that’s needed attention was a loose wire on the ignition coil, which was promptly detected, tightened and sorted. Admittedly, I only get the Landy out once a week or so and usually only for short stints, so it only covers about 1000km a year.

If you recall the last 4x4 Shed update, I mentioned that one day I’d like to drive the Landy across the Simpson Desert, “while wearing a big bloody hat with the roof down” – after all, what better way to immerse myself in the complete desert experience than driving it at a slow pace with the wind in my hair (in my case, that’d be facial hair, because there’s nothing left up top).

1972 Land Rover Series IIA in the bushes

When fellow 4X4 Australia contributor Glenn Torrens read about this loose plan (read: pipe dream), it inspired him to want to drive the Simpson in an old fourbie, too; in his case, an old Pajero he’d recently re-engined. He’s since roped in a few other enthusiasts, a couple of whom are experienced bush mechanics including Brad Newham and Norm Needham, which I reckon could come in very handy.

Other likely vehicles include an old live-axle Daihatsu Rocky and a 40 Series Land Cruiser. I reckon 4X4 Australia Editor Matt Raudonikis should ready his BJ73 Land Cruiser, and I have it on good authority that Deputy Editor Justin Walker is hoping to convince his better half that he needs to buy an old Rangie for the trip.

My preferred timeframe for a Simpson Desert crossing would be late-August or early-September 2020, depending on the weather, of course. This would (hopefully) give me enough time to get the Landy ready…

1972 Land Rover Series IIA inspection

While it seems to be in pretty good mechanical shape, the Landy leans down a fair bit on the driver’s side. I recently put it up on a hoist at my local suspension specialist and discovered that the leaf springs are, in fact, in good nick, but there are a couple of kinks in the chassis that are likely causing the wonky stance.

While it drives okay, I reckon I’ll need to straighten out this little problem before embarking on a desert crossing. The method? Several ‘experts’ have offered their opinions, from resetting the springs, packing the springs and even pulling the chassis into line at a truck-repair specialist. I’ve got a bit of time up my sleeve, but this is definitely a priority.

On the positive side, the only other ailments discovered up on the hoist include items such as steering arm joints, tie rod ends and shock bushes.

1972 Land Rover Series IIA tie rod ends

Prior to the Simpson Crossing, however, I need to thoroughly check all the electrics, because I can see wires threaded through holes without rubber grommets fitted, and the last thing I want is a short circuit and a potential fire. I also need to source a hoop set and new canvas roof, because the hardtop will stay at home in the shed for this trip.

I have considered buying a Roamerdrive Overdrive, but it’s hard to justify the substantial expense for a vehicle that only gets driven occasionally. The Landy currently tops out at about 90km/h, but is much happier at 80km/h, so driving long distances are not its forte.

Bearing this in mind, rather than drive all the way to Mount Dare from Sydney for the start of the trip, I might ship (or tow) the Landy to Adelaide before setting off. This would knock a good 2500km off the trip overall, which will save a lot of time.

I also need to figure out how much fuel I’m going to need to use on a Simpson Crossing. The Landy is quite thirsty and it only has a 45-litre tank, so I’ll need to carry quite a few jerry cans. This will, unfortunately, eat into beer-carrying capacity, so hopefully our support vehicle will be able to help out with fuel haulage.

The next time you read about the IIA, hopefully it will no longer be dubbed Eileen.

Ownership is a journey too on 4x4 Shed

4x4 Shed Log 2: 1972 Land Rover Series IIA
Current mileage: 
Mileage this month: 
Average fuel consumption: 

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