1970 LR Series 2a 88" hybrid with Mercedes turbo diesel & power steering

2 years 5 months ago #9885 by cdb
This is essentially a brand new Series 2a 88” Bugeye with, significant changes over the original vehicle.

I bought this Land Rover in Spokane, Washington. The previous owner for 16 years was a college professor and a Land Rover fanatic. He was fastidious on maintenance.

However, since it was to be my last Land Rover I decided to correct what I thought are the Land Rover Series’ deficiencies:

weak steering,
small 12 gal gas tank,
poor fuel mileage, and
irritating engine reliability.
I heard about Robert Davis’s Mercedes OM617 5 cylinder turbo diesel adapter kit for a Land Rover Series vehicle. I wanted something that could take me into the Oregon desert or on remote trails and I wouldn’t have to worry about getting back and I don’t like poking along. The Mercedes 5 cylinder OM617 turbodiesel is usually considered the most reliable engine ever made: 125 horsepower @ 4,350 rpm and 185 foot pounds of torque. With indirect injection it can burn almost anything - cooking oil, kerosene, used motor oil, even gasoline (?). Used in battered taxi cabs all over the Third World.

I bought the quite expensive, but very extensive adapter kit, found a Mercedes 5 cylinder turbo diesel and tore the engine down to the block, rods, crank and pistons. The head work was done locally and I rebuilt the Garret T3 turbo, replaced valve seals, timing chain, water pump, high torque starter, Monark glow plugs and injectors, 616 intake (more low end torque), and custom alternator (now 105 amp) plus all hoses, gaskets, main and rear seals. The engine was cleaned and painted with high temperature paint. The turbo and exhaust are wrapped in fiberglas thermal tape.

The adapters are now sold out and Robert Davis isn’t making any more.

I re-wired the entire vehicle using the correct stranded kit from British Wiring and added a 10 fuse box in place of the stock Land Rover 2 fuse item. The alternator, glow plugs, electric cooling fan and battery to shut off switch are fused separately.

Lokar throttle with custom brackets.

All lights, inside and out, are the much brighter, cooler and long lasting LEDs including the headlights (in Hella H4 buckets). I installed the correct flasher relay also. Waterproof Hella relays are used for the headlights and the electric Flex-Lite 16” pusher cooling fan.

The brake lines are new cupro-nickel piping, the master cylinder is a new Defender 110 model and the brake servo is a new 30% larger 8” Santana unit. The brakes are excellent.

New clutch master, slave and cupro-nickel piping

With the Mercedes OM617 I get 21-25 mpg or about 350-425 miles with the 17 gallon custom aluminum tank.

It will cruise at 70-80 mph and run up steep mountain passes like the I5 Siskiyou Pass near me at 65 mph.

The oil cooler is a stock Mercedes unit custom mounted to the LR radiator and fitted with braided stainless oil lines and AN fittings.

The radiator is a new stock Land Rover Series III unit and is more than enough to cool the engine. The motor has never gotten hot even up a steep pass on 100+ degree days with the turbo hitting 1,050-1,150 degrees.

What dramatically improved the Land Rover’s’ ride was a new set of Rocky Mountain parabolic springs and custom valved Pro-Comp shocks as well as replacing all the suspension bushings (polyurethane in the frame). The vehicle tracking is excellent and the ride is quite comfortable for a swb.

The stock 2a transmission was rebuilt by Doug Shipman and those are his galvanized sill guards and heavy duty bumper on the vehicle.

The overdrive is a RoamerDrive made in Canada. I considered installing a later 5 speed Land Rover transmission instead of the 2a transmission/overdrive combination but decided against it because 1. I like a stock look, 2. I prefer the multiple gearing combinations of an overdrive and a 4 speed, 3. it would involve cutting the transmission frame member and 2. it requires shortening the already short rear driveline by 4”.

VDO pyrometer, oil pressure and voltmeter gauges were added on a separate Land Rover dash plate in addition to the standard gauges. I fitted a LR/Lucas temperature sender into the stock Mercedes head location to retain the stock temperature gauge.

Except for the high beam indicator, all idiot lights are unhooked as there is no longer any need for them.

The new Monark glow plugs are wired through a separate, Lucas starter solenoid instead of a timer so I can control how long they are on. That’s the button and the light mounted above the ignition switch. This way you don’t have to worry about the timer relay sticking on and draining the battery or not coming on long enough to start the engine.

The Monark injectors are new and balanced.

The engine has the standard Mercedes block heater with 110v plug, but I’ve never needed it.

The Interstate battery puts out 1,000 cranking amps and 800 cold cranking amps and is brand new .

The vehicle and all separate parts were disassembled, sand-blasted or stripped, professionally painted and then reassembled. There was no rust anywhere.

All bolts are stainless, grade 8 or polished original items.

Everything on this truck was polished, powdercoated or painted except for the door sills which were cleaned and then nickel plated.

All motor and transmission mounts are new.

New Rocky Mountain aluminum window channels - top, bottom, front and back.

Range Rover 3:54 diffs were installed in place of the stock 4:70 gears at Doug’s suggestion and are a big improvement. 4:70s will be included.

Power steering comes from a Range Rover P38 (ZF) box using the stock Mercedes OM617 pump and a custom steering shaft. It was designed and built by a local fabricator.The power steering is one of my favorite improvements. It is quick and great fun to wheel the LR around our winding back roads and easy to maneuver out of tight parking spaces.

The engine bay, inside the wings, the lower doors, and the inside and underneath of the bed were coated with Raptor truck bed urethane mixed with the Pastel Green paint for a very tough and durable finish.

I installed the complete NK Group (from the UK) soundproofing kit for the Series 2a along with DynaMat type sound-deadening mats to make it as quiet as is possible for a LR Series 2a.

The headliner is from Badger Coachworks.

The front seats are new from Exmoor (in the UK) and the rear side seats and frames are in excellent condition with one small rip in the upper cushion of one.

The center console is raised and hinged at the front for easy access to a hidden underseat tray that when it is pulled up gives access to the fill plug for the transfer case.

Included is the middle front seat and a Pastel Green painted tailgate with hardware.


I’ve never been able to get the driver’s door to line up as nice as I’d like and both the Mercedes engine and the LR drivetrain are fluid leakers even though they have all new seals, gaskets, Right Stuff or Permatex 518.

A few other items:

2.5” custom straight through exhaust
German made metal and glass inline oil/water separator
Inline Walbro fuel pump (no more manual priming)
All new fuel lines too

If this was to be my last vehicle why am I selling it?

1. Like a lot of guys I found the resto process to be very interesting and challenging but when it was done I was at a loss for a project.

2. I just found and bought a rare (in the USA) vehicle that I’d wanted: A Mercedes W460 Gelandewagen with the hard to find 5 cylinder turbo diesel, 5 speed manual transmission and Recaro seats.

So, I’m selling my 1992 Range Rover Classic and the LR to reduce my car ownership from 6 to 4 (and have a happier wife in the process) and fund my next project.

Not sure what I’ll do when this project is finished.

Pictures below. Sorry for the randomness but I can't figure out how to rearrange photos in Google Drive:

I’m offering it locally for $40,000 here in southern Oregon but will sell to AZLRO members for $35,000.

Next step is Bring a Trailer at the end of the week.

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2 years 5 months ago #9886 by cdb
It is sold to a Pacific Coast Rover Club member and I'm very happy it is staying in the "fold".


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