Young at heart


30 April 2024
Welsh Grey paintjob blends beautifully with the Norfolk coastline palette : credit: © Alisdair Cusick
This meticulously rebuilt Series IIA blends classic looks with just enough modern tech to bring a smile to anyone who jumps behind the wheel

Sometimes, you come across a Land Rover that completely redefines how you think about that particular model. All your preconceptions and experiences of other vehicles of the same ilk are forgotten, and a new benchmark is forged that all others will be measured against. The Series IIA you see here is one of those Land Rovers.

Purists might have a thing or two to say about some of the  details, but this IIA is pure joy to drive

To be honest, I first became curious about this particular Series IIA because the man responsible for the stunning photos in this story, Alisdair Cusick, told me how it had been converted to use a Ford Ecoboost petrol engine. I’d seen this conversion done in Defenders, but never in a leaf-sprung Land Rover. So my interest was already piqued, but I wasn’t prepared for the level this little IIA has been finished to, and the cleverly-selected modifications that have made their way onto the 88in to make it a classic that anyone can climb into and enjoy to the full without worrying about setting a choke, double-declutching a non-syncro gearbox and wrestling with the steering in car parks.

To the hardcore Series aficionados among us, deleting these traits might sound like blasphemy. But that isn’t something that Terry Hayward, the man behind this incredible 88in, is concerned about.

Defender door hinges bring a more precise closing action than the original Series type

“I bet purists will have something to say about the door hinges, for a start,” he smiles, gesturing at the late-model Defender parts that now adorn the 88in. While the original proud hinges might look right to the trained eye and make the quaint Series IIA ticking noise as the doors swing open and shut, the more precise round-corner Defender units, combined with anti-burst latches and one-piece seals, hold the doors in place far better and completely eliminate the chattering and squeaking that the traditional Series set-up is known for. They also provide mounting points for the retro-style door mirrors, which are much more in keeping with the IIA’s styling than Defender ones, but also a massive improvement in visibility over the diddy wing-mounted round mirrors this Land Rover would have left Solihull with. As far as Terry’s vision of ultimate user-friendliness goes, though, door furniture is just the tip of the engineering iceberg.

“This particular Land Rover started as a donor we had in stock,” explains Terry. “It was rough but complete, and the panels were straight, which was the most important thing. From the outset we had no intentions of using the original chassis and bulkhead, so the first thing I did was ring Richards Chassis and order a standard, ungalvanised 88-inch Series IIA frame. With the modifications we’d need to do to fit the engine I had in mind, I didn’t want to start with a galvanised one straight away – we’d do the adaptions needed for the engine and gearbox, then have it galvanised afterwards.”

Ecoboost engine installation is exceptionally well executed

Ah yes, that engine. The original 2.25 petrol is long gone, and a 1.6-litre Ecoboost from a 2012-2016 Ford Fiesta ST sits in its place. But with so many different options available, why did Terry decide that this particular turbo’d four-cylinder was the right unit for the job? “There are loads of Land Rovers around these days that are way overpowered. Having hundreds and hundreds of horsepower under your foot is fun at the start, but when the novelty wears off, it’s not usable and becomes more irritating than anything. The Ecoboost has plenty of torque from low down, it’s quiet, and it’s fairly frugal. It’s got brilliant driveability, but still enough go to raise a smile when you want to,” Terry enthuses.

Viewed from underneath, the fit and finish is immaculate

Obviously, fitting an engine that started out in a front-wheel drive hot hatch into a ladder-frame 4x4 chassis wasn’t going to be a five-minute job, but Terry and his team have made it look easy. The process began with building a tubular cradle to support the ancillary end of the engine, which bolts to the front crossmember and chassis rails – tabs are added to the chassis further back to accommodate the mounting points that would usually pick up on the Fiesta’s subframe and body, to stop the engine from twisting under power.

Bellhousing, transfer ‘box and gearbox junctions required some rethinking

Because the Ecoboost of this vintage uses similar architecture to the older Ford Zetec engine, which is hugely popular with kit-car builders, there are off-the-shelf parts available to bolt on a bellhousing for a rear-wheel drive gearbox, allowing it to be turned 90 degrees without too much trouble. Once in place, the back of this bellhousing was adapted again to a Defender LT77 five-speed gearbox, and houses a concentric hydraulic slave cylinder which is actuated by an LOF Clutches master cylinder. The five-speeder not only allows an extra ratio to make the most of the engine’s spread of power, but adds to the user-friendly nature of the build over the more agricultural soup-stirrer Series IIA crashbox.

Ashcroft Transmissions part-time 4WD kit allows two- and four-wheel drive and high and low ratios

Behind the LT77 is an LT230 transfer ’box, which has been fitted out with an Ashcroft Transmissions part-time four-wheel drive kit, removing the usual locking centre diff and replacing it with a mechanism that allows selection of two- or four-wheel drive, as well as high and low ratios. The transfer ’box is mounted with bespoke brackets welded to the chassis, and custom-length propshafts make up for the driveline’s new lengths and position. Only once the fit was perfected and additional mounts welded on for extras such as the cooling pack and electric fuel pump was the chassis sent off to be hot-dip galvanised for corrosion protection.

To join that Richards chassis, a Robert Owen bulkhead was ordered to ensure the IIA lasts as long as physically possible, and work began on the donor vehicle’s wings and tub. These were painstakingly straightened, with dents and wrinkles carefully ironed out. The original doors were beyond saving, so a pair of new Britpart tops and bottoms joined the rest of the parts in the paintshop for coats of beautiful Welsh Grey – but not before the skins were stripped off and the frames treated with a rust-resistant zinc coating. Notice a theme here?

Rust prevention is paramount on this Series IIA, as it’s off to live by the sea once Terry has put a few more miles on the engine and gearbox – the rear crossmember has been painted black to ward off the white fluffiness that bare galv can begin to exhibit, and the chassis and axles have also been cavity waxed and coated in clear rustproofer to further keep the elements at bay.

3.5 ratio diff and bespoke exhaust

The axles have been fully stripped, zinc-coated, painted and rebuilt with fresh 3.5-ratio diffs and bearings, and the front now runs Design Development Engineering disc brakes, adding consistency to the pedal and reducing the amount of adjustment and maintenance needed. They hang from the chassis on polyurethane bushes and traditional leaf springs, rather than parabolics, but they are Lightweight spec for better compliancy and comfier ride. “The rear dampers are still a tad hard,” explains Terry “so I’m on the lookout for some with softer rebound. The springs work brilliantly though, and really suit an 88in that’s unladen most of the time. They make a big difference on the road.”

Lightweight springs bring much-needed comfort to the ride

The use of Lightweight springs is another theme that runs through this Series. While the heart is now from the Blue Oval, everything else is as Land Rover as it can be. The power steering, for instance, uses a Defender box (albeit fed by an electric pump from a Vauxhall), and the drag link and track rod are also Defender. The radiator responsible for keeping the Ecoboost cool is a standard 300Tdi item, and the gearbox tunnel is a common-or-garden panel rather than a fancy custom job.

Wheels and tyres were next on the list, and Terry went for a set of tubeless Defender Wolf rims – giving the extra offset needed to clear the front brake calipers – and Comforser Cf3000 mud-terrain tyres. “I really rate the Comforsers,” states Terry. “On these Series Land Rovers, it’s rare for the tyres to wear out on the tread before age gets to them and perishes the rubber, so it makes sense to use a more price-conscious tyre. These CF3000s are nice and narrow, so suit the look of a classic really well.”

More custom touches include wood-rimmed steering wheel and Defender control stalks

Inside the cab, the attention to detail continues. The ECU and wiring harness that run the far more modern engine are concealed neatly in the top of the passenger footwell, behind a bespoke kick panel which you really can’t see unless you’re looking for it. In the opposite side, the OE Series IIA pedals have been replaced with Defender clutch and brake controls with the latter acting on a Series III servo, and the accelerator pedal has been lifted from the donor Fiesta ST, which runs on fly-by-wire. It’s an incredibly tidy set-up, and the visible changes from standard in here are beautifully subtle.

Interior detail is exquisite

Glancing at the instrument cluster in the centre of the dashboard, Terry’s keen eye for detail is evident once again. The instruments themselves have been updated, with a Defender speedometer to the right of a Series III temperature and fuel gauge. If you look even closer, you’ll see that they’ve been moved over slightly to accommodate heater temperature and fan speed dials to control the aftermarket heater unit that nestles underneath the nearside wingtop, and blasts the truck cab full of warmth in no time at all.

An Optimill boss mounts the wood-rimmed steering wheel, and you’ll notice more updating in the form of a Defender steering column cowl and stalks; a more familiar set-up to use if you’re coming from a newer Land Rover. Deluxe seats trimmed in County cloth sit astride a leather cubby box and, above your head, a smart roofliner stops the pesky condensation that bare-metal truck cabs are known to dribble.

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Quality finish continues out back

Walking around this beautiful IIA, more modern touches emphasise the user-friendliness of the truck. A carefully-chosen LED reverse light sits in the rear crossmember aperture: “I think I’m going to look for a smoked version, so it blends in with the black better,” muses Terry. Genuine rubber mudflaps swing merrily from the crossmember, dancing in the sea breeze, and the only hints to the Series IIA’s more modern powerplant is the compact intercooler peeping from behind its wire radiator grille and the slightly enlarged exhaust tailpipe poking out behind a rear wheel. The tailgate now hinges from the side, making it easier to grab stuff from the load bed without getting smeared in sand, mud or road dirt. “It also rattles less like that…” Terry explains. I can’t keep my eyes off the paintwork – who knew that a flat colour like Welsh Grey could have so much depth?


Outstanding to drive

Up-to-date comforts help make the ride more of a pleasure

With so many elements of this humble Series IIA brought kicking and screaming into 2024, I cannot wait to get behind that wood-rimmed steering wheel and see how it feels on the road. The first thing that jumps to your attention is how solid the doors feel. You can open them, grab hold of them and pull up and down – there’s no play or movement at all. Jumping into the cloth seat and pulling the door closed behind, the tinniness of a slightly flexible Series door is gone; you get a much more reassuring, solid-feeling thunk instead. Want to check for daylight creeping through the seals or between the floor panels? Be Terry’s guest, but don’t hold your breath.

A twist of the centre-mounted ignition wakes the Ecoboost, and a dip of the clutch sees you underway in the first of the five gears. Trundling down the narrow Norfolk lanes, I build speed, and am instantly shocked by how quiet this Land Rover is. Sure, the modern petrol engine is helping, but there are absolutely no rattles, squeaks or creaks. Anywhere. For anyone who’s been in a Series Land Rover before, this messes with your head.

Working up through the tight gearbox, the second thing that hits you is the ride quality. Getting an 88in wheelbase to ride this smoothly is nothing short of spectacular – Terry is right, the rear is quite firmly damped, but the fresh Lightweight springs have you deliberately aiming for undulations just to see how well the suspension will deal with them.

Instrumentation is modernised and throttle position improved

A welcome change to the driving position is the accelerator. The Fiesta’s throttle pedal has a very short throw, but this means your foot isn’t bent back at such an extreme angle as it usually is in a Series. The controls are light and precise, and the sheer refinement of the cabin has to be experienced to be believed.

So, what of that Ford Fiesta ST engine? Is the diminutive 1.6-litre up to the job in a Land Rover? Without a shadow of a doubt, it is. What the Ecoboost lacks in capacity it more than makes up for with forced induction, and the linear delivery of the power and torque means you can almost drive it like a diesel – select fifth at 35mph, push the pedal and you’re past the speed limit in no time, turbo chirruping playfully through the air filter. Its relatively modest output makes it even more fun in my eyes, leaving 30mph zones and disappearing off up B-roads leads to plenty of puzzled looks, and when it’s time to scrub speed off, the servo-assisted front discs are consistent and predictable.

Pulling back into Terry’s yard, I try to play it cool but I just can’t stop smiling. I don’t want to hand the keys back: the impression this Series IIA has left on me will linger for a very, very long time.


The Builder

Terry Hayward owns and operates Hayward Revive, an independent Land Rover specialist on the Norfolk coast

Hayward Revive offers restoration services from recommissions and light overhauls to full rebuilds and conversions like this one. ‘‘I like to try different things, and it’s really exciting when our customers are on board to think outside the box and come up with original ideas. We’ve already got plans to do another Ecoboost-powered Series – a 109in station wagon, with the slightly bigger 2.0-litre petrol and an automatic gearbox rather than manual,’’ he says. Terry’s busy workshop and stacks of inventory really give off a feeling that anything is possible, and the man’s enthusiasm is infectious; it’s clear he does this because he loves the brand and the vehicles, rather than just to pay the bills.

Keep up with what Hayward Revive is doing on Instagram: @hayward_revive.


Spec List

Custom chassis mounts

1967 Series IIA truck cab

Body and chassis
• Richards galvanised chassis
• Robert Owen bulkhead
• Crossmember painted in chassis black
• Body resprayed in Welsh Grey
• Side-hinged tailgate
• Defender door hinges and seals
• Britpart doors, frames galvanised
• Defender 300Tdi gearbox tunnel

• 1.6-litre Ford Ecoboost from 2012-16 Fiesta ST
• Custom mounts and bracketry
• K&N air filter
• 3-inch downpipe
• Bespoke 2.5-inch exhaust
• 300Tdi radiator
• Universal alloy intercooler

• Zetec rear-wheel drive bellhousing
• LT77 gearbox rebuilt by Beaumonts
• LT230 transfer ’box, Ashcroft part-time 4WD kit
• 3.5 ratio differentials
• Custom-length propshafts

Suspension and brakes
• Defender pedal boxes
• Series III brake servo
• LOF clutch master cylinder
• Series III Lightweight springs
• OE oil-filled dampers
• Britpart polyurethane bushes
• Design Development Engineering front discs
• Defender steering box

• Engine ECU tucked in passenger footwell
• Fiesta throttle pedal
• Vauxhall electric power steering pump
• Defender and Series III gauges
• Defender column stalks
• Halogen crystal-clear headlights
• LED side/indicator bulbs
• LED reversing light
• Kalori aftermarket heater

• Optimill steering wheel boss
• Exmoor Trim wood rim steering wheel
• Defender steering column cowl
• Deluxe seats in County cloth
• Customised Series IIA instrument panel

Wheels and tyres
• Wolf tubeless steel wheels
• 235/85 R16 Comforser CF3000 M/Ts


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