The Land Rover Series IIA, which were manufactured from 1961 to 1971, is 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. This being an upgrade from the previous 2.0-liter diesel. The Land Rover Series IIA was around for roughly ten years, so things are different, even though the “series” remained the same. Some categorize the Series vehicle from the Series IIA to the Late IIA. The Series IIA is best set apart from the Late IIA by the placement of its headlights. The SIIA headlights were closer together. The Series II and Series IIA were the same in this feature in the headlights. The Late Series IIA had the lights on the fenders.
The Series IIA arrived in showrooms with improved running gear and styling tweaks in 1961. In 1969 the Series IIA hit a record sales figure with 60,000 units in a single year. In 1971 the last Land Rover Series IIA rolled off of the Solihull factory line as the Land Rover Series III was introduced.
Other changes in the Land Rover Series IIA came as Land-Rover started putting better equipment in the vehicles. One addition was a starter that was activated by the ignition key. The seats also changed from a basic grey to a pleated black that could slide back and forth on adjustable tracks. 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.
The Late Series IIA’s saw Land Rover beginning to limit what was available in the U.S. The U.K. had various sub-models including a 1 ton 109 pick-up. In the U.S., we were only shipped, one basic model, an 88 with a full hardtop, sliding window roof sides, a rear door, a four-cylinder gas engine, and a small choice of colors.
The Late Series IIA continued until 1971. The only significant difference from the “bugeye” was the restyled front wings. New illuminated side markers were also installed on the Late SIIA’s.
The best way to identify the two sub-groups of Series IIA’s is by the headlights. The SIIA’s had the headlights in the radiator support, while the Late SIIA’s had them on the wings. Both models had metal wire mesh grilles.
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