This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.

Land Rover 90 & 110

In the early 1980s, Land Rover embarked on a £200 million investment programme that quickly produced the Stage 1 Land Rover and the five door Range Rover. The programme finished with replacements for the Series III Land-Rover in the form of the 110 ('One Ten') Land Rover in 1983, and the 90 ('Ninety') Land Rover in 1984. The Series III remained in production until 1985.

110 Prototype110 Prototype - Pic by D. Neeson - Gaydon 2008

Externally, there was little to distinguish the 90 & 110 Land Rover vehicles from the Series II Land-Rovers which had been in production since the late 1950s. A mild facelift of revised grille styling and the fitting of wheel arch extensions to cover the wider-track axles are the most noticeable changes. The windscreen was made larger and now came as one piece. The grille was moved forward, as it was on the stage 1, to allow sufficient space in the engine compartment for the Rover V8 as well as the new engines planned. Interior trim was improved, and the rear load space was increased by restricting the boxed-in sections to the wheel arches only.

Leaf springs were replaced by coil spring suspension, which gave a more comfortable ride when the vehicle was lightly laden and also improved axle articulation. Power-assisted steering was added as an option. The Series III 2.25 litre 4-cylinder engine options were initially offered, but the diesel was soon increased to 2.5 litre (1984), and the 3.5 litre Rover V8 became a standard option. The 2.25 litre petrol engine option was replaced with a 2.5 litre version from 1985. The 90 & 110 incorporated a full-time four wheel drive system similar to the early Range Rover & Stage 1 V8, with a transfer gearbox with a lockable centre differential. However the very earliest 110 models did retain the Series gearbox with a free wheeling front axle. On the Station Wagons, the 'Safari Roof' design was dropped.

The 90 was launched in 1984. The new name was partly a result of marketing. In reality the wheelbase is 4.5 inches longer than the 88 inch Series III, at 92.9 inches. New features of the 110 were carried over to the new 90. In 1984 wind-down door windows were fitted to both the 90 and 110 models, replacing the sliding glass panels on earlier 110 models.

From 1983 a new chassis type was available, the 127 inch (naturally officially called the One Two Seven), which carried a High Capacity Pick Up (HCPU) - style rear load bay and a 'twin cab' 4-door passenger compartment on a stretched four wheel chassis. Originally named the 110 crew cab, The 127 was also available in numerous special conversions such as ambulances, 6x6 types and fire engines. Eventually the chassis was developed into an "off the line" option and was renamed the 130 to distinguish it from the original 127 which was a special conversion of the 110 chassis.

Land-Rover 127

Land-Rover 127 - e-Bay picture

The late 1980s saw Land Rover begin to market the utility Land Rover as a private recreational vehicle. While the basic pick-up, Station Wagon and hard-top versions were still working vehicles, the County Station Wagons, with improved interior trim and more comfortable seats were sold as multi-purpose family vehicles. This change was reflected in Land Rover starting what had long been common practice in the car industry - the slight changing of the County model from year to year to constantly attract new buyers and to encourage existing owners to trade in for a new vehicle. These changes included different exterior styling graphics and colour options, and a steady trickle of new 'lifestyle' accessories that would have been unthinkable on a Land Rover a few years before, such as radio/cassette players, styled wheel options, headlamp wash/wipe systems and new accessories such as surfboard carriers and bike racks.

1983 Land Rover 110 CSW
1983 Land Rover 110. pic by Old English Cars.

1986 Land Rover 90 soft top
1986 Land Rover 90 soft top.

1986 - launch of the turbo-diesel.

For many years Land-Rovers had been criticised for their low-powered engines. The concept of a simple, low-stress, low power engine had worked for decades, but modern buyers demanded more. A turbo-diesel engine, closely based on the 2.5 litre 4-cylinder diesel engine already used, was introduced. This unit produced 85 horsepower (a 13% increase over the naturally-aspirated unit, and 150 lb-ft of torque at 1800 rpm, an impressive 31.5% increase). This finally provided a powerful yet economical power plant for the vehicle. The engine was only intended to be a short term solution to compete with more advanced Japanese competitors, but was quickly adopted as the standard engine for UK and European markets. The engine was marketed as the 'Diesel Turbo' (to differentiate it from the diesel-engined Range Rovers, which used VM engines badged as the 'Turbo D'). Early engines gained a reputation for short service lives, with problems such as bottom-end failures and cracked pistons. Small changes made in 1989 solved many of these problems, but the engine is still avoided by some.

Military Applications

As you would expect, military versions of the 90, 110 and 127 are very common. 127 Ambulances were a popular replacement for the earlier Series III ones, giving more room for patients and crew. 

Land Rover with RBS 70 missile system

The Land Rover 110 above is carrying a MANPADS (MAN Portable Air Defence System) similar to the RBS 70 (Robotsystem 70) from Saab Bofors Dynamics, which uses the RB 70 laser guided missile.

Land Rover Special Projects Division

To maximise sales in Europe, Land Rover set up their special projects division, which handled special low-number conversions and adaptations to the vehicles. The bulk of the division's work was the construction of stretched-wheelbase mobile workshops and crew carriers for British and European utility companies, often including 6-wheel-drive conversions, but more unusual projects were undertaken, such as the construction of an amphibious Land Rover Ninety used by the company as part of its sponsorship of Cowes Week from 1987-1990. The Special Projects division also handled specialised military contracts, such as the building of a fleet of 127-inch V8-powered Rapier-missile launchers for the British Army.

Amphibious Land Rover
Land Rover Special Projects Amphibious Land Rover.

Land-Rover '90'
Production: 1984-1990 (later models renamed Land Rover Defender)
Overall Length: 160.5 inches (4077mm)
Overall Width: 70.5 inches (1791mm)
Wheelbase: 92.9 inches (2360mm)
Engine: Rover 2.5 diesel (1984-1990), Rover 2.5 turbo diesel (1986-1990) Rover 2.25 Petrol (1984-1985), Rover 2.5 Petrol (1985-1990), Rover 3.5 V8 Petrol (1984-1990)
Transmission: LT-77 or LT-85 5-speed main gearbox, 2-speed transfer box, full time 4WD.
Suspension: Live axles with coil springs and hydraulic telescopic dampers.

Land-Rover '110'
Production: 1983-1990 (later models renamed Land Rover Defender)
Overall Length: 181.1 inches (4600mm)
Overall Width: 70.5 inches (1791mm)
Wheelbase: 110 inches (2794mm)
Engine: Rover 2.25 diesel (1983 only),Rover 2.5 diesel (1984-1990), Rover 2.5 turbo diesel (1986-1990) Rover 2.25 Petrol (1983-1985), Rover 2.5 Petrol (1985-1990), Rover 3.5 V8 Petrol (1983-1990)
Transmission: LT-95 4-speed (early V8 models), LT-77 or LT-85 5-speed main gearbox, 2-speed transfer box, Full time 4WD (selectable rear wd or 4wd on early models).
Suspension: Live axles with coil springs and hydraulic telescopic dampers.

Land-Rover '127'

Overall Width:
Wheelbase: 127 inches (3226mm)
Engine: Rover 2.25 diesel (1983 only),Rover 2.5 diesel (1984-1990), Rover 2.5 turbo diesel (1986-1990) Rover 2.25 Petrol (1983-1985), Rover 2.5 Petrol (1985-1990), Rover 3.5 V8 Petrol (1983-1990)
 LT-95 4-speed (early V8 models), LT-77 or LT-85 5 - speed main gearbox, 2-speed transfer box, Full time 4WD (selectable rear wd or 4wd on early models).
Live axles with coil springs and hydraulic telescopic dampers.