Land Rovers & 4x4

Stage One

This is a section about one of our main passions - our Stage One Land Rover.

What is a Stage One?

The origin of the Land Rover Stage One dates back to the 1970s when British Leyland was, to say the least, having problems. All it had in the forecourts were either outdated models (think Maxi and Marinas) or new cars that were not really very good (Allegros and Princesses). The only division of British Leyland making any money was Land Rover, and even that wasn't doing very well because Toyota was hammering them abroad (with respect to the UK that is). The Toyota Landcruiser was at that time the vehicle to beat. Strong, tough and reliable, three words which didn't apply to the Land Rover in the same way. The pulling power and reliability of the Toyota 3.8 litre straight six was what Land Rover didn't have on offer. At the time all BL had to offer was a "two and a quarter" in petrol or diesel or a slightly more powerful but more unreliable and prone to overheating six cylinder 2.6 dating back to the end of WWII.

The Government of the time wanted to keep Land Rover competitive and funded a spending program to revamp the Land Rover range to keep the Japanese from eroding their customer base even further. This funding, which eventually resulted in the 90 and 110 series rolling off the production line, also saw the birth of a powerful and reliable vehicle ideally suited to the export market.

The idea behind the Stage One was to take and existing Series III vehicle and squeeze into is a 3.6 litre V8 and matching four-speed gearbox from a Range Rover (the LT95 four-speed box was originally designed for military applications, so it is very strong but more truck-like than car like and you can expect gear change is slow and heavy, and also expect a bit of gear noise). Instantly the engine was powerful enough and reliable enough for export to South Africa and Australia and the somewhat fragile gearbox of the Series III replaced too, making it suitable for long haul pulling. The new vehicle was intended to be the first stage of Land Rover's financial recovery plan - hence it became known within the company as the "Stage One V8", although it was officially named the 109 V8 (109 referring to the wheelbase in inches).

As standard, the V8 is fitted with restrictors between the carburettors and manifold to reduce power to a modest 90 bhp. This is because Land Rover felt that any more power would make the vehicle too fast for the brakes and suspension. As you can imagine, the restrictors are quite easy to remove. Take off the carburettors and you will see the restrictors. Once carried out this simple modification alone will take the engine to that of a standard Range Rover (135 - 140 bhp).

The 109 V8 introduced two new features which would be carried forward to the 90/110 range - The Range Rover gearbox made this the first utility Land Rover with permanent four wheel drive - The need to move the radiator forwards to clear the water pump pulley gave us the flat fronted appearance still seen on the current Defender

The vehicle went into production in 1979 with all of the first year's production going to export. The 109 was available in either utility or Safari station wagon body styles and later with the high capacity pick up body, introduced in 1981.

The truth is that very few 109s were sold in the UK because of poor fuel consumption and the lack of enthusiasm over a larger engine.

The Stage One production ended in 1983 with the introduction of the 110.

Our mods:

  • Replaced front driver and passenger seats with BLRS Extreme seats
  • Added two BLRS foldaway rear seats
  • Fitted read door spare wheel carrier
  • Fitted Rebel 4x4 steering guard
  • Fitted Reble 4x4 diff guard
  • Fitted Rebel 4x4 A-bar
  • Fitted Ring Off-Road halogen spotlamps
  • Replaced steering damper

Stage One Links

Photo Gallery

She's changed a bit!
from this:to this:

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John O'Groats to Land's End July 2003

About as far north as we could go at John O Groats.

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Great for geocaching along the way

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Makes a pretty good camper too!

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Tyre Damage after hitting a bottle on the M6 - a road tyre would have blown out!

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Finally arriving at the finish Line at Land's End.

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Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
Last updated: May 4th 2004
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