The Series IIA (1961-1971) are the most common vintage Land-Rover in the US. The change to Series IIA came about because of a new 2.25 liter diesel engine that was available. (Upgraded from the previous 2.0 liter diesel) It isn't as simple as that though. As the SIIA's were around for roughly 10 years, so quite a few things are different, even though the "series" remained the same. People have broken the SIIA down into two further sub-series. The Series IIA, and the Late IIA. The Late IIA being from roughly 1968-1971.
The (early) Series IIA sales brochure displayed the interior like this...


The Series IIA is best set apart from the Late IIA by the placement of its headlights. The SIIA headlights were in the radiator support, close together. The Series II and Series IIA were the same in this feature, but we already talked about how to tell the SII's from the SIIA's above. The Late Series IIA had the headlights on the fenders. Other changes in the SIIA's came as Land-Rover started putting better equipment in the vehicles. One addition was a starter that was activated by the ignition key, not by pushing a button on the bulkhead (firewall). The seats also changed from a basic grey, to a pleated black, that could slide back and forth on adjustable tracks. Another example of these upgrades was in 1967, Land-Rover got rid of the individual windscreen wiper motors in favor of a single motor system that operated both wiper blades simultaneously.

Series IIA dash. (individual wiper motors, pre-1967)

Late Series IIA dash (single wiper motor. It is under the cover plate to the left of the steering column, with the red plaque on it)

Many small "improvements" like this occurred throughout the SIIA's production run.

In 1967 a limited production of 811 NADA (North America Dollar Area) 109 Safari Station Wagons were shipped to the U.S. These were the standard 109 5 door Safari Wagons, but they had a modified version of the 2.6 liter, 6 cylinder engine. The engine used a Westlake cylinder head and some other equipment to try and win back customers who complained of the lack of power from the 2.25 liter, 77 bhp, 4 cylinder in the over 3900 pound vehicle. The NADA 109's can be told from other 109 Safari Wagons in many ways. The NADA wagons had dual heated windscreens (like a rear window defroster, but encased in the windshield glass), the uniquely modified 6 cylinder engine, dash parts that were covered in textured plastic, not painted as usual, and they all have serial numbers that start with 343. This now rare version failed to jump start the slow sales of 109's, and it could not compete with the cheaper, faster, and more reliable U.S. built trucks of the time. Land-Rover stopped importing the 109 completely in 1967. Only 88's were available from 1968 to 1974.


1967 Series IIA 109 NADA Safari Station Wagon engine bay with the unique 2.6 liter NADA engine.

Land-Rover also stopped importing the 88" Station Wagon in 1967.

1967 Series IIA 88 Land-Rover Station Wagon (last year for this model in the U.S.)

Much like today, where the owners of new Defender 90s and Discoverys add numerous options to personalize their Rovers, vintage Rovers had numerous options that could be added. However most of these options related to "work" and not so much towards "flash" as in today's market. We have all seen the Defender 90 that has every option for off road use, when unfortunately the closest it gets to off road are the speed bumps in the mall parking lot. One of the popular, and now sought after, vintage Rover options was the PTO (Power Take Off, meaning engine driven) winch made by Koening Iron Works, Inc. in Houston, Texas. Below are images of the original 1960's Koening brochures.

Koening Promotional flyer (above) and brochure (below) for Model L621 "King Winch"


The major changes that split the SIIA's into SIIA's and Late IIA's began in 1968. Tougher regulations in the US meant the Rover's headlights could no longer be in the radiator support. Land-Rover moved them to the wings (fenders) to comply. The first Land-Rovers shipped to the US with the wider headlights are commonly referred to as "bug-eyes". This reflects the fact that Land-Rover merely put the headlights in the fenders, they didn't do any "dressing up" at that time. This was also when Land-Rover started installing the larger 4" amber turn signals front and rear and the side reflectors.

Series IIA 88 "Bug-Eye" Land-Rover

The wings had the parking lamps and turn signals vertically, not horizontally as before. The "bug-eye" was unique though. The radiator support and the wire mesh grill were also unique to this less than one year production run. Bug-eyes are rarely seen today. At a recent event with over 200 Land-Rovers, not one "bug-eye" was in attendance. After the "bug-eye", Land-Rover tooled up a bit, and made the Late Series IIA look more "presentable" by February of 1969. The fenders were modified, and the entire package began to look like it was supposed to be there.
A common complaint that U.S. drivers had about the Land-Rover was its lack of power, and a stiff clutch pedal. Land-Rover tried to address these problems in the Late Series IIA's by fitting 15" wheels to help acceleration of the 88's, and a larger diameter clutch line increase fluid flow. 16" wheels would no longer be available on the U.S. Land-Rover after 1968. They could be easily installed by merely purchasing them and installing them. This did however make the speedometer inaccurate. The Late Series IIA's also saw Land-Rover beginning to limit what was available in the U.S. The U.K. had all kinds of versions including a 1 ton 109 pick up, but here in the U.S., we were only shipped one basic model. An 88, with a full hardtop, sliding widow roof sides, a rear door, a 4 cylinder gas engine, and a small choice of colors.
The Late Series IIA continued until 1971. The only major difference from the "bug-eye" was the restyled front wings. New lighted side markers were also installed on the Late SIIA's.
The best way to identify the two sub-groups of Series IIA's is...The SIIA's had the headlights in the radiator support. The Late SIIA's had them on the wings, but both had metal wire mesh grills.

Late Series IIA 88 Land-Rover

Series IIA 1961-1971
Model 88" Short wheelbase 109" Long wheelbase (up to 1967 only)
Engines 2.25 gas 7:1 compression: 77HP @ 4250 rpms

2.25 gas 8:1 compression: 81hp @4250 rpms

2.25 diesel: 62HP @ 4250 rpms
2.25 gas 7:1 compression: 77HP @ 4250 rpms

2.25 gas 8:1 compression: 81hp @4250 rpms

2.6 gas NADA 6 cyl*
123hp @ 5000 rpms
*Available in the 1967 NADA wagon only

2.25 diesel: 62HP @ 4250 rpms
Transmissions 4 Speed (synchro 3-4) 4 Speed (synchro 3-4)
Transfer case Part time 4WD Part time 4WD

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East Coast Rover Co.
21 Tolman Road
Warren, ME 04864
email: ecrover@midcoast.com