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1966 LAND-ROVER 109" NADA Station Wagon.  Project completed!

Date of Build: 10 June 1966.  

Date of Dispatch: 28 June 1966

Destination: Rover Motor Company of North America, San Francisco.

Chassis #34300284A (2.6L six cylinder).

NADA = North American Dollar Area

This same 109" NADA LAND-ROVER,  began life as a company car; Richard F. Green being the driver (he was then Service Manager and Product Development Engineer for the Rover Motor Company of N.A. Ltd; South San Francisco, CA).

This is the same Land Rover that WCB owner, Michael Green, drove at age-9 near Lake Tahoe in 1967. In late 1969 Richard was to lose his 109" company car. It seems that the NY office wanted it "off the books". With that said, and knowing that BL was only going to import the 88" Deluxe Hardtop from '69 onwards, it was purchased by the Green Family. Mrs. Green drove it daily back & forth to work, for shopping and hauling boy scouts. Other duties included carrying the family to Disneyland, towing Aston Martin's and hauling house trailers.  In mid 1971 the 109" was sold to Paul Felton (then Rover dealer in San Francisco, for his personal use). A new Rover 3500S sedan replaced it... and the 109" soon vanished, but not from memory.

Sometime in the early 1990's it was seen near Stockton at a gas station on Interstate-5, where Michael left a note under the wiper. There was no reply.  After that the 109" was not seen again until it arrived on a trailer at West Coast British in January of 2001.

When it arrived in January it was still recognizable as the "Family Car", since it still sported the White over Blue paint scheme that Richard had put on it, and its original California license # of 641ATW. 

Under the bonnet we found a nasty engine conversion, a tired and ice cracked Chevy 250 6-cylinder engine and tons of cobwebs, the result of  sitting in a field for some years.  Other than that, the 109" was in surprisingly good condition. No rust was found anywhere; long live Land Rover's in California!

West Coast British purchased the car in spring of 2001. Before long the cracked  engine was tossed into the dumpster. Michael Green, along with John Wolf and John Gulliford, made numerous measurements and even fitted a number of different engine & gearbox combinations into the 109" chassis, one being a hot 4.6L Rover V8 (with both ZF auto and the original gearbox). Sadly, we were unable to fit the V8 due to clearance problems with the engine verse firewall (bulkhead). The V8 would require major modification's to the chassis and use of a 4-cylinder firewall, and this was something we wanted to avoid. With that said, the engine would have to be an inline. Since we're not diesel fans, the TDi was vetoed. Two choices came to light; a) an Aston Martin six of 4.3L type, or b) a GM 4.9 litre six. The GM was chosen because of its price and availability of parts 
(it should be noted that GM has since stopped production on this engine). The Aston would have been fun, but cost prohibitive. With the new GM engine now in hand,  fitting work would commence. The front cross-member would be moved 4" forward to facilitate the large custom radiator and 17" flex-fan. The grill panel (radiator support) was dully modified to accept the huge radiator, but was left in its original location. No modifications were required on the firewall.  Once the engine and cooling system were completed, the whole car was disassembled to the very last nut and bolt.

The chassis, along with the axle casings, brake plates, firewall, etc., were sent to MAAS Bros., Powder Coating in Livermore, California. The chassis and related items were all cleaned, blasted then coated in gloss black, whereas the firewall and other body parts and wheels were done in blue and/or white...  the entire body has since been powder coated, there is no paint on this vehicle. At the same time all nuts, bolts, brackets, etc., were cleaned and dressed then sent to the plating shop where they was re-cadmium plated.

Slowly the chassis was reassembled: New TCI parabolic road springs with adjustable Koni shocks replaced the original units. The axles retained the the standard 4.7:1 ratio, ARB Air Locking diff's were added front & rear, the rear now sporting 24-spline axle shafts. All new genuine brake components were fitted, followed by the fabrication and fitment of new brake pipes. A Series-III dual-piston master with a vacuum booster replaced the old CB brake master cylinder with hydraulic servo booster, while the CV clutch master was also replaced with a Series-III type.  The hubs were also up-dated, using the later Series-III units with the large studs/nuts.

The engine, having already been stripped, inspected and modified, was swung into place. A 9.5 clutch was fitted and the original gearbox, having already been rebuilt, was bolted up. The transfer however would be modified using an Ashcroft (UK) High-Ratio gear set, with No overdrive
(no can be fitted with the Ashcroft gear set).

Engine specifications:
4.9 litre (292 cu in.) Six Cylinder.
Hi-Performance Crane camshaft.
Crane Chromemolly pushrods.
Cloyes timing gear set.
Hi-Rev lifters.
Mallory Dual-point distributor w/vacuum advance.
LUCAS hi-output Coil.
Holley 470 4-bbl carb, truck master off-road.
K&N 14 x 3" air filter.
Special alloy 4-bbl intake manifold w/water pre-heater.
Special Twin 3-1 headers.
All alloy water pump.
Custom  high capacity radiator.
Twin electric fans (replaced the flex fan).

Click picture for larger view.
Drive train specifications:
Standard 4-speed gearbox.
9.5 diaphragm B/W clutch.
Ashcroft High-Ratio (high range) Transfer conversion, 2-speed.
4.7:1 axle ratio.
ARB Air locking diff; 10-spline front, 24-spline rear.
TCI Parabolic leaf springs.
Koni 3-way adjustable shocks.
11 Dual leading shoe (3 wdt), front brakes.
11 Dual piston rear brakes.
Dual piston Brake master cylinder w/vacuum booster.
16 x 7 Dunlop steel wheel x6.
7.50R16 Dunlop Radial Rover R/T x6.

Next in line was the fitment of the fuel tanks, a new standard wagon tank in the rear, plus an additional 12-gallon tank under the right/front seat. Each tank would have its own electric fuel pump.

With the drive train and tanks fitted, the firewall and rear body section were next on the list. Not being too keen on the stock dash layout, a custom one was fabricated from aluminum and Auto-Meter gauges were fitted. All the switches were re-located closer to the drivers side. All dash panels would be powder coated in hammer-black. A new wiring harness from British Wiring was fitted, along with custom sections for the new gauges and fog/driving lights (to be installed at a later date).

From this point onwards time would be spent assembling the body; fitting doors, glass, roof, etc. All panels were the originals, the exception being the rear door.  Once again there would be a change in the paint scheme. When new it was Marine Blue, only the wheels and the tropical panel being white. When Richard had Cal-Auto re-spray it prior to purchasing, it was Marine Blue with White from the middle of the doors up. This time around it would be all Blue, the exception being the roof itself and the wheels, which were done in Bright White powder coat. The galvanized body cappings were also powder coated, these done in Hammer Silver.

A1 Auto Upholstery of Dublin (CA.) re-covered the seats and headliner, while the door panels, long since rotten, were custom made at WCB from 6160 aluminum and powder coated to match the dash. Later we'd replace the front seats with Exmoor Trim (UK) Defender type units; Best thing we ever did to improve driveability! D110NAS rear carpets now covered what was once only covered by a rubber mat, or worse yet, bare painted aluminum. A Defender center console with AM/FM/Cassette w/4 speakers (two in the custom alloy over-head that also carries a Cobra CB radio and map light) replaced the original British Leyland AM radio Richard had once fitted (and we still have!). In the late 1960s, when new Federal regulations would require side reflectors (and later lights), Richard fitted them to the 109 as a company project. Later 3500S side marker lamps would also be fitted, and it was here we ran into trouble, as the US Spec lamps were unobtainable, Hella units were substituted. Note the six lamps on the rear and the special cappings. In addition weve fitted a Hella reversing lamp to replace the original Lucas unit.  It should be noted that the rear mud-flaps and the modified trailer hitch are the same ones Richard had fitted when the 109 was new!

As of this writing, August 26, 2003, we have covered 750 miles. At a recent car show in Danville, California the 109 was a huge hit, its also huge hit wherever it goes, even more so at home with the Green boys.  After covering the break-in mileage, we replaced the presently fitted camshaft & variable rate lifters with something a bit less viscous as it eats fuel like no tomorrow. Try 8 to 8.5 mpg!  On road performance is impressive however. Ever done 100+ mph in a 109?  In a top gear roll on from 50 mph on the freeway one evening, and using a light foot (for once) on the throttle, 100 mph came up quite quickly, and it was still pulling! All in all, the performance is far superior than when it was new with the 2.6L, the brakes have been improved, as has ride quality and wheel travel.  As for things like A/C  we dont need it, Mum and Dad coped without. What with the tropical roof and vents open, plus the front flaps, one can get quite a breeze going through the 109.

April 2004; The 109" took a trip around the state of Nevada. Crossing over the Sierra's via Highway 88, then up Highway 395, we headed east along Nevada "Loneliest Road in America", Highway 50. In Austin we were stopped by the local Sheriff, who said, "can I take a few pictures of your 109?"  From there is was off to Eureka. The next day the 109" did record mileage of 14.49-mpg at a steady 75-mph from Eureka to Ely! Ok, we admit, we did have a slight tale-wind.  Ely was once the home of Pete Gamboa Motors (a Land-Rover dealer from the 1950s - 1974). From Ely we turned north and stopped at Cherry Creek; where the Thomas Flyer stopped in 1908 during the New York to Paris Race). Then it was onto Wendover, NV for the night. From Wendover we headed for Elko, where we had the best dinner of our trip, that being at "The Star". While in Elko we stopped in at Dick Wright Motors, another long time Land-Rover dealer from days gone by, sadly he was away. From Elko we headed for a few ghost towns and some neat railroad views. Later that day we found "Maiden's Grave", something worth seeing. Coming out of Elko we'd be bucking a nasty head-wind all the way to Winnemucca, where we would spend the night. That said, the 109" maintained 75-mph over Emigrant Pass and still did nearly 12-mpg. Next stop was Imlay, the original "Lassen Cutoff" for the road to Lassen's Ranch (& California) and Oregon Trail. Here we followed the Applegate-Lassen Trail to Gerlach, where we refueled. Now thinking of home, we headed north to Cedarville, then west to Redding. On the run from Redding to Dublin we maintained a stead 75-mph and did 12.49-mph...  Not bad for a 109" that is shaped like a brick! During our trip we covered 1671 miles.

A week later the 109 was off to Nevada Trophy 2004 in Lovelock, NV. With all the equipment, 2 full-size & 2-small dirt bikes on the trailer, and the 3 boys inside, the 109" had no trouble keeping 75-mph up to Blue Canyon on I-80.  At present the 109 has covered 6448 miles. In June 2004 we bought & modified a 390 Holley to "Truck Master" specification, then customized a carb spacer to suit... the results are impressive to say the least! No more flat spots, 100% drivability... how's 3rd gear at 500-rpm? 

During April 2005 we again took the 109" on a tour through Nevada. From Dublin to Bridgeport, CA, then onto Lone Pine where we found a dirt road across the top of Death Valley to Scotty's Castle, some 80+ miles. Next stop Las Vegas. The 109 cruised at 80+ all the way, even exceeding 100 mph while over taking a semi on two occasions!

With now over 10,000 miles on the clock...  In October 2005 we finally removed the TIC springs and fitted Genuine LR springs and Old Man Emu shocks... it now acts like a Land Rover 109".  A new Holley 470 Truckmaster carb has since replaced the 390 version, and so far we love the results!  Stay tuned for more on the 109.

We hope that next time you are in the area, that youll stop by and see the 109 or maybe the Rover V8 powered all Yellow 88, or the 1973 88" were working on now.     MG

Left: Spring 1970, San Simian, CA. Richard Green with "his" NADA 109" Wagon. On the way home the old 109" would have a constant misfire, Richard would make a gallant attempt to find it one night in the hotel. A burnt valve was found to be the cause.

Chassis # 34300284A  

CA Lic# 641ATW


Left: May 1969, Incline Village, Nevada. Still with the Rover Motor Co Dealer plate fitted... 518.
Michael Green and sister Kerry prepare for a "summer outing" in Tahoe. This is the same '67 NADA 109" Wagon as the one shown above. When Richard Green bought it from the company it was re-painted two-tone, and licensed "641ATW".
Below: in 1970; Here the '67 NADA Land Rover 6-cylinder hauls Aston Martin DB3S/113 Coupe (Earl Kelton's) back from the paint shop to Alameda, CA.