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Jay Leno drives a military Land Rover

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Land Rover Series III

In the latest episode of “Jay Leno’s Garage,” Jay Leno takes a ride in a fascinating piece of Cold War history—a 1972 Land Rover Series III that once served in the British military.

The current owner, Alex Grappo, previously showcased his Porsche 959 on the show. He explains that this Land Rover is an authentic “X-MOD” or “ex-Ministry of Defence” Series III, similar to the vehicles that patrolled the Berlin Wall during that era.

The Series III, introduced in 1971, marked the final iteration of the Series Land Rover models. It succeeded the Series II, which had been in production since 1958, and the original Land Rover Series that established the brand in 1948. Following the Series III, Land Rover briefly adopted the 90 and 110 nomenclature to denote wheelbase lengths before eventually rebranding them as the Defender.

The Series III came in two wheelbase options: 88-inch and 109-inch. The Land Rover featured in this episode is one of the long-wheelbase models, equipped with a 2.6-liter inline-6 engine. Although Land Rover claimed it produced around 70 horsepower and 120 lb-ft of torque, Grappo believes those figures to be somewhat optimistic. Its modest power is transmitted to all four wheels through a 4-speed manual transmission. Notably, the Series III was the first Land Rover to feature synchromesh gears.

While details about the vehicle’s specific service history are limited, Grappo’s research suggests that it likely served as an FFR model—a radio truck. He points out a small box on the driver’s side front fender, which was used to mount communication equipment.

Given its vintage, the Land Rover Series III may be a bit sluggish by modern traffic standards. However, Grappo has taken it off-road in Moab and can confirm that it remains a capable vehicle for such adventures. It continues to draw attention wherever it goes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Land Rover Series III

What is the Land Rover Series III featured in “Jay Leno’s Garage”?

The Land Rover Series III featured in “Jay Leno’s Garage” is a 1972 military vehicle that was used by the British military during the Cold War. It is a genuine “X-MOD” or “ex-Ministry of Defence” Series III, similar to the ones that operated along the Berlin Wall.

What were the specifications of the Land Rover Series III?

The Land Rover Series III came in two wheelbase options: 88-inch and 109-inch. The one showcased in the episode is a long-wheelbase model. It is powered by a 2.6-liter inline-6 engine, delivering around 70 horsepower and 120 lb-ft of torque. It features a 4-speed manual transmission with synchromesh gears.

What was the Land Rover Series III’s service history?

Specific details about the vehicle’s service history are limited. However, based on research, it is believed to have been an FFR model used as a radio truck. It has a small box on the driver’s side front fender, which was used for mounting communications equipment.

How does the Land Rover Series III perform off-road?

Despite its vintage, the Land Rover Series III retains its off-road capabilities. The owner, Alex Grappo, confirms that it has been taken to Moab and proves to be a genuine off-roader. It may be slower compared to modern traffic, but it can handle rough terrain with ease.

What is the significance of the Land Rover Series III in Land Rover’s history?

The Land Rover Series III was the final model in the Series Land Rover lineup. It succeeded the Series II and marked a transition in naming conventions, with Land Rover briefly using the 90 and 110 nomenclature for its models before eventually rebranding them as the Defender. The Series III played a significant role in the evolution of Land Rover’s iconic Defender lineup.

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