1972 Military Landrover Defender III Featured On Jay Leno’s Garage

A recent episode of Jay Leno’s Garage has just been released, featuring a fascinating artifact from the Cold War era. The spotlight is on a 1972 Land Rover Series III, which served in the British military during that time.

The current owner, Alex Grappo, who previously showcased his Porsche 959 on the show, provides insights into this Land Rover’s history. He explains that this particular vehicle is an authentic “X-MOD” or “ex-Ministry of Defence” Series III, similar to the ones deployed along the Berlin Wall.

Introduced in 1971, the Series III marked the end of the Series Land Rover models. It succeeded the Series II, which had been in production since 1958, and the original Land Rover Series that initially launched the brand in 1948. Following the Series III, Land Rover briefly adopted the 90 and 110 nomenclature, referring to the wheelbase lengths, for its traditional models before rebranding them as the Defender.

The Series III came in two wheelbase options: 88 inches or 109 inches. The Land Rover in question is one of the long-wheelbase models and is equipped with a 2.6-liter inline-6 engine. Land Rover estimated its power output at 70 horsepower and 120 pound-feet of torque, although Grappo believes these figures are rather “optimistic.” The meagre power available is transferred to all four wheels through a 4-speed manual transmission. Notably, the Series III was the first Land Rover to feature synchromesh gears. Information about the vehicle’s specific service history is scarce, but Grappo’s preliminary research suggests it may have been an FFR model utilized as a radio truck. He points out a small box on the driver’s side front fender, which was used as a mounting point for communication equipment.

While a Land Rover of this era may not keep up with modern traffic, Grappo assures us that the Series III is the genuine article when it comes to off-road capability. He has taken it to Moab and can vouch for its prowess in challenging terrain. Moreover, wherever the Land Rover goes, it attracts plenty of attention.

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