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What is a Series III Stage 1?

The V8 was a tight squeeze in the SIII engine bay and was slightly tilted upwards at the front. The radiator was moved forwards and the grille made flush with the front edges of the mudguards. The front chassis cross-member was moved forwards too, and the mounting of the steering relay somewhat changed from the SIII. Many home-grown conversions had shoe-horned the V8 in without moving the grille etc. but the new arrangement left plenty of room for a large AC Delco cyclone air cleaner under the bonnet. The bonnet (hood) was of course longer than the SIII's, rounded at the front and wraping around at the leading edge. It seems to have been carried into the 90/110 model range essentially unchanged.

The number two chassis cross-member of the SIII was deleted and the small cross-member under the transmission made removable to help in getting the gearbox out - the latter is a useful modification for earlier "series" Land Rovers. The cross-member immediately behind the transmission was modified to allow the rear prop-shaft to pass.

Because the engine was tilted up, the gearbox output shafts are not quite parallel with the diff' input shafts so a double-Hookes c.v. joint was fitted to the transfer case front output shaft (only). This complex joint is often replaced with a single universal when it wears out, generally with acceptable results.

The steering swivels contain Range Rover c.v. joints because of the full-time four wheel drive. Apart from that the stage-1 is bog standard Land Rover series III. If it had been produced ten years earlier it would have provided some real competition to Toyota's 45-series LandCruisers.

Prototypes were built and tested as early as 1976, however it was not until 1979 that vehicle went into full production. All of the first year's production went to export markets, the 109 was available in either pick-up, hardtop or safari station wagon body styles. The high capacity pick up body was introduced in 1981.

As well as the six colours available on the standard Series IIIs, the Stage 1 had four exclusive colour options: Java Green, Masai Red, Inca Yellow & Pageant Blue. Russet Brown later became available with the County Station Wagon.