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There are two engines types available for these cars:

4 cylinder petrol. This engine is seriously overbuilt (TerriAnn has 300K+ miles on hers). Compression is low so it runs on just about any type of petrol. It has a single downdraft carb, circular intake ports, roller cam, 20 Amp generator. The engine gets about 15 to 18 MPG and runs smoothly under load below 1000RPM. Some 2l engines have a multi-fuel capability whereby the engine can burn a petrol/diesel, or petrol/ kerosene mixture by adjusting the distributor. Some owners manuals state not to burn petrol with an octane rating of under 63 in the engine for performance reasons.

The most common variety of this engine is the 2.25l version. Engines with smaller capacities were used in earlier, read Series I and II vehicles. These engines include the 1.6l and 2.0l engines. Later Land Rovers use both the 3.5l V8, and higher capacity derivatives, and the 2.5l engine. The later is a stroked 2.25l engine.

  • Petrol Engines:

    • 1595cc
        Vehicles used on:
          Pre-Production (1948)
          Series I (1948 - 51)
        4-cylinder : 69.5 x 105mm 1595cc
        compression ratio : 6.8:1
        carburetor : Solex
        horsepower : 50bhp (net) at 4,000 rpm
        maximum torque : 80 lb ft at 2,000 rpm

        This is an overhead valve, side-exhaust, bypass filtered Rover car engine.

    • 1997cc
        Vehicles used on :
          Series I (80" model, 1952 - 54)
          Series I (86" model, 1954 - 56)
          Series I (107" model, 1955 - 58)
          Series I (88" model, 1957 - 58)
          Series I (109" model, 1957 - 58)
        4-cylinder : 77.8 x 105mm 1997cc
        compression ratio : 6.8:1
        carburetor : Solex
        horsepower : 52bhp (net) at 4,000 rpm
        maximum torque : 101 lb ft at 1,500 rpm

    This engine again uses a bypass filter arrangement, with the 1.6l engine bored out to 2l. Spacing between the 1 & 2 and 3 & 4 cylinders is down to 1/4" which becomes a problem later in engine life. The original 2l engine was only used from Sept. 1952 to 1954 and the introduction of the 86". In 1954 the full flow 2l engine was introduced, modified bearings but still suffered from the 1/4 spacing between cylinders. In 1956 the spacing was corrected with "staggered bores" where the spacing was increased to 3/8".

    Problems with the 1.6l and 2l include camshaft problems with the followers wearing prematurely, exhaust valves that didn't last too long, head gaskets are prone to blowing, and a rear main "thrower" system on the back of the crankshaft, that after a lot of off-road use, could lead to oil getting into the clutch, or a lot of wading could lead to the crank pulling water into the engine. This last problem was solved on the later 2l engines which could keep oil in and water out.

  • 2286cc
      Vehicles used on:
        Series II (88" model, 1958 - 61)
        Series II (109" model, 1958 - 61)
        Series IIA (88" model, 1961 - 71)
        Series IIA (109" model, 1961 - 71)

      4-cylinder : 90.47 x 88.9mm 2286cc
      compression ratio : 7.0:1
      Bore: 3.562
      Stroke: 3.5
      carburetor : Solex
      horsepower : 70bhp (net) at 4,250 rpm
      maximum torque : 124 lb ft at 2,500 rpm

      This engine includes modifications of a stronger water crankshaft, altered water pump position (because of cylinder head cooling problems) and modified water pump and thermostat housings. This engine was so successful, that it was used up until 1984. In 1980 a 5-bearing version of this engine was introduced.

      In 1967 the Solex carburetor was replaced by the Zenith.

      Problems: The early 2.25l engines has a cooling problem that resulted in cracked heads and suffered from crankshaft knock. Later 2.25l engines solved this problem.

  • 2286cc
      Vehicles used on:
        Series III (88" model, 1971 - 85)
        Series IIIB (109" model, 1971 - 85)

      4-cylinder : 90.47 x 88.9mm 2286cc
      compression ratio : 8.0:1
      Bore: 3.562
      Stroke: 3.5
      carburetor : Zenith
      horsepower : 70bhp (net) at 4,000 rpm
      maximum torque : 120 lb ft at 1,500 rpm

      From 1980 the engine has a five main bearing crankshaft.

  • 2625cc
      Vehicles used on:
        Series IIA (109" models, 1967 - 71)
        Series III (109" models, 1971 - 85)
      6-cylinder : 77.8 x 92.1mm 2625cc
      compression ratio : 7.8:1
      Bore: 3.063
      Stroke: 3.625
      carburetor: SU
      horsepower: 83bhp (net) at 4,500 rpm
      maximum torque: 128 lb ft at 1,500 rpm

      In 1971 the carburetor was changed from the SU to a Zenith Stromberg. The changed statistics are as follows:
      horsepower: 86bhp (net) at 4,500 rpm
      maximum torque: 132 lb ft at 1,500 rpm

      A Euro 6 has a much lower peak torque (1500 rpm) than a NADA 6 (3000) so seat of the pants stop & go driving or challenging, technical and slow off roading a Euro 6 will feel more powerful so a HRTC would actually work better on these engines.     Get out on the highway at higher rpms and a NADA will leave a Euro in the proverbial dust. (Bill Davis)

      This is a detuned Rover 110 car engine with modified water pump and different carburetor for the Land Rover. This is an excellent engine for towing, and was a smooth running engine. However...

      Problems: Same as the early 1.6l and 2l engines where it ate a lot of exhaust valves and suffered the additional problem of the long aluminum head corroding or warping.

  • 3528cc
    Vehicles used on:
      Defender (90" models, 1985 - )
      Defender (110" models, 1983 - )
    8-cylinder (V8) : 90.47 x 71.1mm 3528cc
    compression ratio : 8.1:1
    carburetor : 2 x Zenith-Stromberg
    horsepower : 91bhp (net) at 3,500 rpm
    maximum torque : 166 lb ft at 2,000 rpm

    This fourth engine variety is very rare in North America on pre-1974 vehicles as the owner had to undertake the conversion. The Rover aluminum block 3.5 liter V8 engine combination is common in the UK. Kits are available from the UK for those willing to undertake the conversion process. (The 3.5l engine was also used in the TR-8 among other BL & Rover vehicles, or in other words, the TVR, Morgan +8, TR-8 are all powered with Land Rover engines)

  • Diesel Engines:
    • 2052cc
        Vehicles used on:
          Series I (88 & 109 models, 1957 - 58)
          Series II (88 & 109 models, 1957 - 58)
          Series II (109" model, 1958-61)
        4-cylinder : 85.79 x 88.9mm 2052cc
        compression ratio : 22.5:1
        Bore: 3.562
        Stroke: 3.5
        carburetor : CAV fuel injection
        horsepower : 51bhp (net) at 3,500 rpm
        maximum torque : 87 lb ft at 2,000 rpm
    • 2286cc
        Vehicles used on:
          Series IIA (88 & 109" models, 1962 - 71)
          Series IIB (110" Forward Control)
          Series III (88 & 109" models, 1971 - 85)
        4-cylinder : 90.47 x 88.9mm 2286cc
        compression ratio: 23.0:1
        carburetor : CAV fuel injection
        horsepower : 62bhp (net) at 4,000 rpm
        maximum torque : 103 lb ft at 1,800 rpm

      This is the 2.25l petrol engine with different material crankshaft, different pistons, larger con rods etc.

      From 1980 this engine has a five main bearing crankshaft.


There are basically 3 versions of gearboxes (transmissions). The series I & II, IIA and Series III. The Land Rover gearbox remained basically unchanged from 1948 until 1970.

The Series I gearbox had few problems because of the low power of the 1.6 or 2l engines, and the relative light weight of the Land Rover itself. The common faults were the engagement dogs on second gear (no synchromesh here), chipped first gear on the lay shafts and a broken main shaft. These are all the fault of poor driving or overloading. In 1958 the extra power of the 2.25l engine made these problems worse. This Series II gearbox had the same innards as the Series I but had a modified housing for the change in engine specification.

The gearbox specification was changed in 1961 with the introduction of the Series IIA. The main gearbox had a beefed up lay shaft and a front bearing as well as a repositioned reverse gear idler (these used to break sometimes). The idler pin on the gearbox was also enlarged. This gearbox could even cope with the 6 cylinder engine without problem.

In 1971 an all new gearbox was introduced with the Series III. Basic differences were that this had a larger diaphragm clutch (Note: this larger clutch plate and diaphragm will fit on the older Series IIA bell housing) and the 4 speed synchromesh. This gearbox needs to be treated sensibly. The massive baulk ring assembly does not like to be rushed and can cause problems if it is. This gearbox is not considered to be as strong as the Series IIA gearbox as people tend to be rough on them be trying to power shift.


With money, anything is interchangeable, however, Land Rover owners are generally not know for the free-flowing wallet that other British cars owners generally practice. The parts outlined below are interchangeable with a minimum of effort and cash.


    All four cylinder engines are interchangeable, but there are two types of bell housing stud patterns. The earlier engines, the 1.6/2.0l and 2.6l 6-cylinder use one pattern, while the rest of the four cylinder engines use another. As a result, the four cylinder petrol and diesel engines are completely interchangeable, though remember to bring along all of the linkages, wiring, et cetera.

    Engine mounting points on the block are common as well as the depth from the mounting points to the rear of the block.

    Fitting larger capacity 2.25l engines in the 80" and 86" Land Rovers requires you to either move the radiator forward so that it clears the fan blades, otherwise the you dispense with the engine mounted fan and put in an electric fan in front of the radiator.

    The 6-cylinder engine is six inches longer than a 4-cylinder engine, and will only fit in a 4-cylinder chassis with modification to the crossmember and bulkhead.

    The 3.5l V8 requires an adapter plate to mate with the standard Land Rover gearbox, and some jigging with the engine mounts. Kits to undertake this conversion are available from England.


    All gearboxes are interchangeable, though there are two types of bell housing stud patterns. The early pattern was used on the 1.6l and 2.0l engines. Swap the bell housings to fit the engine and gearboxes together. The later bell housing started in 1958 with the diesel engine, and is still used on current turbo diesel Ninety Defenders and Discoverys.

    There are two types of clutch mechanisms used. The earlier was used for the Series I through Series IIA, while the later started with the Series III. The former is a more complicated system with external linkages, while the later uses a simple arm within the bell housing.

Copyright Dixon Kenner, 1995-2011. Last modified July 4, 2008.
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