It took far longer than it should have for the Rover V8 to find its way into the Land Rover, but when it did it fundamentally transformed the vehicle from a slow but capable off-roader onto a far more powerful machine with an unmistakable exhaust note and a considerable torque upgrade.
The Land Rover Defender V8
The Rover V8 is unquestionably one of the most important British car engines in history, but it actually started life thousands of miles away in Detroit as the Buick 215 cubic inch (3.5 litre) V8 fitted to cars like the Oldsmobile Cutlass. The engine was an all-alloy push rod V8 with two valves per cylinder, a relatively small size and a low weight thanks to the aluminium construction.
After Buick discontinued the engine the rights to it were bought by Rover who also acquired the tooling. Rover engineers did a significant amount of reworking including a new stronger block before putting it into production in the Rover P5B. Over the course of its decades of British production the Rover V8 would be fitted to everything from Range Rovers to fire-breathing TVR sports cars and everything in between.
The Rover V8 was first offered as an engine option in the Land Rover Defender (a name the model would acquire in 1990) in the mid-1980s, the power increase was such that these Land Rovers needed upgraded transmissions to handle it. Initially the gearbox used was the Range Rover LT95 4-speed (with integral transfer case), this was then later replaced with the high strength “Santana” 5-speed transmission.
These factory-built Land Rover Defender V8s are now among the most highly collectible original Defenders, they’ve been used for everything from towing caravans across Surrey to exploring the Amazon rainforest, and good examples typically fetch a price premium.
The Custom V8 Land Rover Defender 110 Shown Here
The Land Rover you see here was originally optioned with a Rover V8 from the factory when it was ordered in 1992. This is the long wheelbase 110 version, so named for its 110 inch wheelbase. The 110 could be ordered with four doors or two, with the two door version offering a long tray back that made it perfect for carrying loads, camping, transporting motorcycles, and general farm work.
This Defender 110 recently went through a full nut-and-bolt restoration, close attention was paid to improving the vehicle in subtle ways to make it more capable off-road, more comfortable, and better suited to regular use. Now when looking at the interior you’ll notice the Safety Devices roll cage, a suede Tyrex steering wheel, a JVC stereo and entertainment system, a brand new Exmoor Trim black canvas soft top, and alloy shifter knobs as a hat tip to the alloy V8 under the hood.
Underneath there are new Bearmach shock absorbers paired with Bearmach Blue 5+ cm Smooth Ride lift springs to boost ground clearance and better fit the larger Cooper Discoverer SST tires into the wheel arches. The engine bay has been similarly upgraded, with the 3.5 litre V8 breathing in through correct twin SU carburettors and out through tubular headers and a stainless steel exhaust system.
The 110 V8 is also equipped with a Terrafirma wireless remote winch, upgraded LED headlamps, a jet black grille and wheel arches, and an all-white body. The vehicle is now being offered for sale with just 35 kms on the odometer since the restoration was completed, the price estimate is $90,000 to $110,000 USD, and you can click here if you’d like to read more about it or register bid.
Images: ©2020 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.