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Series Land Rovers

Engine Conversions

Or that 2.25l just doesn't cut it anymore by Dixon Kenner.

There are many reasons why you should not change the stock engine in a Series Land Rover. They include divorcing yourself from a wealth of material aimed at supporting this particular engine. They include:

1. Unparalleled service manuals. There is almost no other engine, excepting the A-block in the austin Mini, the air-cooled VW Beetle engine, and possibly others, that have available the excellent factory manuals for maintaining this engine. Third Party manuals abound, but really cannot compare to Land-Rover's Factory Manuals.

2. The ease of maintaining the engine. From the Land Rover mailing list, a large network of clubs, to others with experience with the standard engine offer a large community to assist you in supporting this engine.

3. Parts availability. All of the parts for this engine, short of the original blocks, are available from somewhere. Refurbished blocks are available, as are heads and other parts. They are cheap to maintain. The parts are cheap, there are no fancy electronics, it is a basic Mechano set that you can take apart in your driveway. In fact, short of reboring the block or playing with the crankshaft, much can be done with the engine sitting in the vehicle.

4. Originality. There are many reasons to keep a vehicle original. They include resale value. People tend to shy away from non-standard vehicles. You go and change that engine because you are doing it and will know the results. A potential buyer will not. This is not to say that you should not, many people find some of these conversions desirable, but the audience is much diminished. Assuming that this does not bother you too much, then you can look at potential conversions.

You have decided that originality doesn't count *that* much and you are thinking about uprating, or changing the 2.25l for something, hopefully, better. So, what are some of the reasons to change the your 2.25l lump for something else?

One often heard reason is that you are seeking to reduce fuel consumption. The 2.25l is not that efficient, and is quite an old design. Robust, not particularly efficient, probably because it was envisioned to operate almost anywhere and fuel quality was not the science it is today. Bear in mind simple maths. Work out how many miles you drive. Work that out in 2.25l mileage and come to an annual cost. Now, put in the more efficient engine specs and note that even going diesel is going to take a lot of miles to pay this off. The more you drive, the faster the break-even point. Think years...

A second revolves around better pulling or cruising power. North America is big. If you want to travel any distance to a rally or something, odds are that you will be driving a couple hundred miles. While the philosophical argument on whether the journey is the adventure or the end justifies the means has been discussed in the OVLR newsletter in the past, some people just prefer to go with the flow. Unfortunately, going with the flow on I81 or the 401 between Montreal and Toronto definitely does not mean 55mph forever. You suddenly find that tractor-trailers, cars, and just about everyone else hates you because you are a rolling road block. Being passed by a semi that is doing twenty-twenty five miles an hour faster than you is not many people's idea of "safe". Speed matters...

Point one and two, if combined in a variety of fashions can mean that you want better traveling range. How far can we go today...

A fourth is obvious. Your loyal 2.25l motor has been pining for the fjords of Scotland and is now pushing up the daisies. IE, "it's dead Jim.". A replacement 2.25l, or even looking at that Rovers North or Turner performance engine is going to cost a few pennies. Using the old adage "in for a penny, in for a pound", implies that you can look elsewhere.

Of course, you could have no engine to start with, so see number four.


Land Rover:

1. Stick with the 2.25l and go with an improved version, read Rovers North, Turner, ACR, et al.
2. Look to diesel. Preferably the 2.5 turbo diesel or the 2.5TDi. (The International 2.8l falls into this near Land Rover catagory as the differences between the 2.8 and the TDi is negligible)
3. Drop in the Rover V8

1. 2.5l or equivalent, stock or modified (See RD Conversion)
2. 3.8, 4.1 and 4.9 Straight 6 Petrol Others: Toyota, Volvo, Ford, Nissan Things to consider when you are considering a swap:

1. Do you have both an adequate budget and the time? Playing with non-standard parts equates to time. Either yours, or someone else's.
2. What is the rebuildable life span of the engine in question? Is it a highly tuned machine that requires lots of care and feeding, or is it a forgiving lump like the 2.25l that will motor on for a long time?
3. How will the engine fit in the vehicle? It is a drop in replacement, or do engine mounts have to move (read work, welding, possible $$$). Does it easily mate up with your gearbox,or is an adapter required (is the adapter plate available and if so, does it come with the lit or is it an added expense)
4. Will more power and performance shred your gearbox if applied in some fit of pique?
5. Now you are going faster. Can you now stop? Older Series brakes are not bad when in the best of shape, but if you are doing seventy five rather than fifty five, are you comfortable? Would changing over to booster brakes make you feel safer (have you budgeted for this?) 6. Will the suspension take the load? While the 2.25l weights in at roughly 450 pounds, some conversions weigh more. Or course, some like the Rover V8 reduce the overall weight of the vehicle
7. Who is going to do this? You? Someone else? This leads into the completeness of the kit. Do you want to run around re-inventing the wheel and fashioning parts, or would you rather just pay for someone else's expertise and experience and just drop that in? You can do it yourself and save $$$, or you can have someone else do the work and pay them for their time. Both approaches are possible and both are extensively followed.
8. When you tire of your beloved vehicle, what is resale like with a non-standard motor in there? It could go either way, depending on neatness and whether or not the motor is something fairly recognizable.


Copyright Dixon Kenner, 1995-2011. Last modified December 1, 2010.
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