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Land Rover Series 1, 2 and 3: Buying guide and review (1948-1985)

Land Rover Series 1, 2 and 3: Buying guide and review (1948-1985) Classic and Performance Car
Land Rover Series 1 Land Rover Series 1 Land Rover Series 1 Land Rover Series 1 Land Rover Series 1 Land Rover Series 1
The name Land Rover has become synonymous with ruggedness and off-road ability, and it all started with the original Series I, II and III models. Rover set out to build a light agricultural vehicle, due to the fact that post-war rationing prioritised resources for companies building exportable machinery. 

Rover’s pre-war luxury cars were not in high demand, so they designed the Series I, inspired by the American Willys Jeep. It had an aluminium body due to the shortage of steel, and focussed on agricultural needs, with options such as the Power Take Off accessory allowing the attachment of farm machinery.

Initially intended for a short production run to get the Rover Company back on its feet, it ended up becoming a worldwide phenomenon, proving itself in the harshest and most inhospitable corners of the globe.

While the 90 and 110 that followed it look very similar, due to the ever-pressing constraints of modern motoring they do not have the same single mindedness to their design that sets the earlier Series cars apart. 
Which one to buy?
An early Series Land Rover is always going to be a hard-riding, tough-as-nails vehicle, whether you choose the first one that rolled off the production line or one of the last Series IIIs. The car’s agricultural roots are the overriding feature of any trip, so if you’re looking for a comfortable motorway cruiser, then this is not the vehicle for you. As a means of crossing a muddy bog or traversing a three-foot deep river in Africa however, there are few classic vehicles that can compare.

A large variety of body styles and engine choices were made available over the years, from short-wheelbase soft tops to long wheelbase 12-seaters. Series I models started off with a limited number of engine and body style options. The Series II versions were considered to be the most rugged while build quality on some of the Series III cars suffered during the labour strife in the ‘70s. 

It‘s common for cars to have parts installed from different years of production; some are intended to make regular usage more pleasurable such as an overdrive for less deafening highway driving, however modifications to the drivetrain should be checked thoroughly.

A number of military-spec Land Rovers were also built, modified to meet specific needs such as ambulances and infantry support vehicles. Forward Control variants were available in Series IIA and IIB versions. These models had the cabin over the front wheels to allow for an increased loading area. These are quite rare and many have been modified to improve their on-road performance.

Some of the more notable changes over the years were the introduction of the Rover V8 to the range in 1979, and an updated five-bearing crank for both petrol and diesel 2.25-litre engines in 1980. All models have leaf sprung suspension and except for the V8, selectable four-wheel drive. The ability to start them with a crank and an optional ‘power take off’ for accessories marks these vehicles out as serious machines, this can also mean that some have lead quite a hard life so be sure to check them over thoroughly to avoid any nasty surprises.
Performance and specs
1973 Series III 2.25 Petrol SWB 
Engine 2286cc 8valve OHV I4 
Power 70.5bhp @ 4000rpm
Torque 119lb ft @ 1500rpm
Top speed 68mph 
0-60mph 29.1 seconds 
Fuel consumption 15mpg 
Gearbox Four-speed manual
Dimensions and weight
Wheelbase 2235mm
Length 3620mm
Width 1676mm
Height 2007 mm
Weight 1380kg
Common problems
Parts are available for most of the Series models and working on these cars is a lot easier than tackling tasks on more modern machinery. Some engine and chassis restoration work is best left to the experts, so joining a Land Rover club is advisable.
• Bodywork is aluminium-based however corrosion can still occur at any points where the body panels come into contact with the steel chassis or other structural components

• Rust can occur around the bulkhead, footwells, rear cross members and front chassis legs.

• Engines in earlier cars can be problematic and Series II and III engines are an easy swap into earlier cars, so check the engine numbers for originality. Series II engines are easier to source and are more durable than earlier versions, but a Series 1 will be less valuable if unoriginal.

• 2.0-litre petrol engines prior to 1955 can suffer from blown head gaskets and the 2-litre diesel engines are known to crack cylinder heads. Oil usage between services and leaks are normal unless excessive. A low knocking sound may indicate a worn crankshaft and ill require an engine rebuild.

• Gearboxes work well when paired with earlier 1.6 and 2.0l engines however more powerful engines can put strain on them. Any post-1954 Series I cars can be upgraded to one of the newer gearboxes. Series II units seem to be the most hard wearing.
Model history
1948: Land Rover Series I launched with a 1.6-litre petrol engine producing 50bhp, on 80-inch chassis
1949: Station Wagon body style introduced with body by Tickford
1952: 2.0-litre petrol engine introduced. Four-wheel drive system changed to a more conventional setup
1954: Wheelbase on 80 inch model increased to 86 inches. Pick-up version introduced with 107 inch wheelbase, and upgraded 'spread bore' 2.0l petrol engine introduced with improved cooling
1955: 2.0-litre engine received another modification
1956: New Station Wagon models introduced on 107-inch wheelbase. Wheelbases extended on all models by two inches mid-year
1957: New modern 2.0-litre diesel engine introduced with 52bhp
1958: Land Rover Series II launched available in 88-inch and 109-inch wheelbases. 72bhp 2.25-litre petrol engine gradually replaces original 2.0-litre option. 12-seater Station Wagon variant introduced to take advantage of UK tax laws
1961: Land Rover Series IIA is introduced with most significant change being a 2.6-litre petrol engine option, initially only for export models. 2.25-litre Diesel engine producing 62bhp becomes available. Multiple body styles available in both SWB and LWB forms
1962: Forward Control version introduced with cab over front wheels and strengthened axles
1966: Series IIB Forward Control introduced with 2.25-litre diesel engine now an option
1967: 2.6-litre petrol engine introduced for LWB models
1968: 1 Ton 109 inch wheelbase model is introduced 
1969: Styling changes with headlamps moved inboard of wings on all variants
1971: Land Rover Series III launched with improvements to interior trim but minor exterior changes. 2.25-litre petrol engine gets an increased compression ratio. Synchromesh now available on all forward gears
1974: Land Rover's last year of sales in US market. Forward Control option ends production
1979: 3.5-litre V8 petrol engine fitted to the LWB Land Rover creating the ‘Stage 1’ 
1980: 2.25-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel engines receive five main bearing crankshafts and transmission and axle is strengthened
1982: County specification introduced with added luxury features. High Capacity Pick-Up introduced with 25 per cent larger load bay and uprated suspension
1985: Final Series III rolls off the production line marking the end of an impressive 37-year run
Owners clubs, forums and websites
• www.lrsoc.com - Series 1 owners club
• www.series2club.co.uk - Series 2 owners club
• www.thelandroverclub.co.uk - Series 3 owners club
• www.paddockspares.com - Series 2 and 3 spares and parts source
Summary and prices
Prices start at around £3000 for useable a useable example, do not be tempted by prices much lower than this because a Land Rover that is in bad condition can lead to a frustrating and expensive ownership experience. Fully restored cars, especially ones with upgraded running gear can go for up to £ 20000-00 and totally original early Series cars can top £ 30000-00, but many very useable examples can be found for much less than this .The early cars are both MOT and Tax exempt which can help towards keeping running costs manageable. 
These early Series Land Rovers are a rolling piece of motoring history, they refreshingly do not try to be all things to all people and can still provide a great ownership experience for those who are looking for a very capable go anywhere vehicle.
Words: John Tallodi // Pictures: Dennis Images
Land Rover Series 1 Land Rover Series 1 Land Rover Series 1 Land Rover Series 1 Land Rover Series 1 Land Rover Series 1
Last updated: 30th Nov 2015
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Land Rover Series cars for sale

18 Search results
Land Rover Series
990 34500 GBP
  • 1971 Land Rover Series IIa 109-inch Petrol Station Wagon

    £6,000 - £8,000 est. £6,000 - £8,000 est.
    Leominster, Herefordshire, HR6 0DE
    Auction Date: 17 May 2017
    • Engine size: 2.3
    Auction Date: 17 May 2017
    01568 611122 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • LAND ROVER SERIES 11 88 Inch 2.25 Diesel Soft Top - Galvanised Chassis

    £11,950 £11,950

    Features For more info on this vehicle call our showroom on 01825 841148 Land Rover Series 2A with Soft Dash Galvanised chassis fitted, New Footwells, Full Respray in Marine Blue, New Hood & Sticks, New Tailgate. This is an exceptionally clean vehicle fitted with a 2.25 Diesel Vehicle supplied with:- 12 Months Warranty - 12 Months Mot & a Full Service Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the above information but errors may occur. Please check with a salesperson.

    • Year: 1971
    • Mileage: 91000 mi
    For sale
  • 1955 Land Rover Series I 107

    £29,995 £29,995

    This stunning, fully rebuilt Series I Land Rover 107 was built on the 16th December 1955 and was supplied for the RHD Home Market. VXS 198 was finished Grey from the factory and sold new by Spurling Motor Bodies Ltd, Colchester, Essex. We have a British Motor Industry Heritage Certificate confirming a 2 litre petrol engine was Factory Fitted Equipment and the Label (line) number of the vehicle was 617. The Land Rover has spent the majority of its life in a warm climate, coming back to the UK from Malta during 2016. From paperwork with the vehicle, we believe this Pick Up was exported to Malta in 1964 and has had seven owners before coming back to the UK. During 2016 the Land Rover was shipped back to the UK and has since been MOT tested and re-registered so is now back on UK plates. VXS 198 is beautifully finished and has been subject of a major restoration in Malta. The Land Rover has had very little use since and has come to us in stunning order. The paint finish and bodywork is exceptional, the underside gleaming with a beautiful chassis and underbody. The interior has been fully re-trimmed and the 'Landy' mechanically overhauled. Having not been used since restoration, £2300 ha

    • Year: 1955
    For sale
  • 1968 Land Rover Series IIA Safari

    £29,995 £29,995

    This is a truly wonderful find and offers an unrepeatable opportunity. This original Land Rover 109 LWB has covered a genuine 89000 miles and comes with a full history since 1969. Our Land Rover has huge provenance and comes with a fabulous file detailing the vehicles usage, maintenance and interesting stories. It was supplied new in 1968 but soon changed hands and was purchased by five medical students in London and Belfast. OWD 934F was taken to North Africa in 1968 on a University first year summer vacation. Correspondence in the file confirms the Land Rover was a brilliant, reliable vehicle through North Africa and one of the students recalls servicing it twice on the trip, the second being carried out on the beach near Rabat in Morocco. The last meal with the Landy is also recorded, in a lay by near Paris late at night as they had decided to drive through the night to make the early morning ferry back to the UK. Photos and stories from the adventure are present in the history file. The Land Rover presents as a true time warp. Externally the paintwork survives in original condition and looks fabulous. There are certainly blemishes but the externals can only be admired consideri

    • Year: 1968
    • Mileage: 89000 mi
    For sale
  • Land Rover Series

    £19,995 £19,995

    Land Rover Series 3 109" Station Wagon Nut & Bolt Restoration A Rare Opportunity to Acquire an Original, Restored & Very Desirable Series III Land Rover 109" Station Wagon. First registered 1st August 1978. This lovely example in finished in Bronze Green with a contrasting limestone safari roof. It really does look fantastic. A genuine rare 12 seater vehicle that would be fantastic for a day shooting in the Scottish Highlands, some fishing at the lakes or even a long weekend camping. The vehicle is also matching numbers, totally original throughout and therefore eligible for US export. The vehicle is so practical and will be undoubtedly reliable for the long trips due to it's recent rebuild. The clock is showing 22,000 miles which although we can't guarantee could be genuine given the vehicle was off the road for a number of years prior to restoration. The condition of the bulkhead and chassis would also suggest this to be possible. The vehicle has undergone a thorough and comprehensive restoration, retaining as many original parts as possible. The chassis is original and in remarkably good condition for the vehicle's age, more pictures can be seen of the underside of the vehicle on our website. The rebuild has included the engine, gearbox and axles being overhauled, new exmoor trim seats throughout. LaSalle Trim have supplied the headlining, door cards, side panels, window surrounds at a cost of close to £3,000. New brakes including wheel cylinders, brake pipes, shoes and drums. New fuel tank, shock absorbers, new lights all round, new hoses, clips, door seals, mats, clutch, slave cylinder, master cylinder, new leaf springs, new wiring loom, new servo, carburettor, coil, points, ht leads, window channels new Goodyear tyres. The vehicle also retains all of its original Triplex stamped glass. There is just too much to list. There has been no expense spared on this vehicle, if it needed replacing it has been and further improved. Nothing is required. Hundreds of hours have been spent on this restoration. UNDER THE BONNET One of the best original engine bays we have seen on a Series 3, extremely clean with original stickers still in place. The original 2.25 petrol engine runs very well and has plenty of power and starts straight up even on the coldest of mornings. Correct colour paint to engine block which is correct for a 3 bearing crank engine which was carried over from Series 2a production. The attention to detail on this vehicle is to a very high standard. A joy to drive and such fun, the vehicle will be supplied with a 12-month MOT with no advisories. Four-wheel drive and low range engage, as they should. The gears change up and down as they should which is a good sign of its light use over the years. The vehicle will be fully serviced including engine, oil filter, main gearbox, transfer box, diffs and the swivels. You will have to go a long way to find a better vehicle and we believe this is the best restored Series 3 109" Station Wagon on the market today. Please call so we can confirm everything that has been done to the vehicle. This vehicle really needs to be seen to be appreciated, the pictures don't do it justice. Try our new free valuations service http://www.williamsclassics.co.uk/valuations/ http://www.williamsclassics.co.uk Any trail or inspection welcome, Credit and debit cards accepted, Delivery can also be arranged, P/X welcome, Any enquires please call 078255 87155.

    • Year: 1978
    • Mileage: 22000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.3
    For sale
  • Land Rover Series 111

    £6,999 £6,999

    Tow Pack, Cloth Upholstery, Colour Coded Body, 4x4, Part service history 1973 LAND ROVER LIGHT WEIGHT, FULL RENOVATION, 12 MTHS MOTThis vehicle is currently in our workshops and the engine is being removed to cure large oil leaks plus all new brakes and many other parts being fitted, will be complete early 2015.

    • Mileage: 60811 mi
    • Engine size: 2286
    For sale
  • 1955 Land Rover Series 1 Station Wagon

    $34,500(£26,882.40) $34,500(£26,882.40)

    Those of us in the car business love to throw around words like “Iconic”, “Legendary” and “Archetypal”. Perhaps it is because, as enthusiasts we feel so passionate about our favorite machines that we resort to trusty superlatives to describe them – however deserving (or not) the car may be of such praise. But there are some vehicles that pass beyond the borders of our beloved hobby and earn themselves a place as cultural icons. Usually, this comes courtesy of groundbreaking styling, sporting success, or in the case of the Land Rover, through faithful service in war and in the hands of those working the most rugged corners of Earth. The Land Rover was directly inspired by another cultural icon – the Jeep. Rover’s chief engineer Maurice Wilks, working on his family farm alongside his brother (and Rover’s Managing Director) Spencer, developed a prototype in 1947 based on a leftover Jeep chassis. The idea was for a vehicle that could serve in a military setting, or provide versatile and inexpensive transport for farmers and tradespeople. When it was introduced a year later, the Land Rover would become a near instant success. The chassis was a robust steel ladder-type with a full-time four-wheel-drive system. Due to post-war steel shortages, the body was constructed from aluminum which was much easier to source at the time. One notable benefit was that the body didn’t suffer from serious rust that similar steel bodies would. All early Land Rovers were painted varying shades of drab green – quite literally surplus paint used to finish aircraft cockpits during WWII. Initially, a 1600 cc petrol engine powered the Land Rover, with a 2000 cc diesel offered from 1957. Throughout production, a wide variety of body styles and configurations were offered to suit just about any imaginable situation. For farmers and industry, countless aftermarket PTO accessories could transform the trusty Landie into virtually any type of machine needed in the field. Its incredible toughness, dependability and versatility earned the Land Rover a place as one of the most valuable tools in a tradesman’s arsenal. It found favor around the globe, serving owners on virtually every continent. This charming 1955 Series I Land Rover Station Wagon is a short wheelbase (86”) station wagon that presents in very original condition. This right-hand drive wagon is delightfully well-preserved, showing what appears to be maybe one paint job in its lifetime, which now exhibits a wonderful patina that is perfectly appropriate for an old Land Rover. There are a few battle scars and a dent or two in the alloy body, which just adds to the appeal – like a well-used tool. Robust bumpers are fitted front and rear, and the plain white wheels are unadorned, with no frivolous trim or wheel covers. The spare wheel is mounted on the hood in traditional Land Rover fashion. Thanks to the four jump seats in the rear compartment, this little Landie will seat seven passengers. It seems almost absurd how today’s bulbous, oversized crossovers and SUV’s grow to enormous proportions to accommodate seven seats, when this little Landie can do it in the span of just an 86” wheelbase. Of course, a certain degree of comfort is sacrificed in the name of practicality, but it is still a testament to the efficient packaging of the original design. Passenger capacity aside, the interior is all business, yet presents in good order with tough gray vinyl covering the seats. The fixed rear roof features safari windows for some extra light and the front door windows are simple Perspex sliders. It is fitted with an optional heater and windscreen wipers should one encounter properly British weather while bouncing through a field. The engine bay is tidy and exhibits signs of maintenance, though it is pure function over form. The legendary 2.0 litre petrol engine runs strong and is a joy to motor around, perched high on the driver’s seat, peering through the split ‘screen. It isn’t fast, and the engine isn’t particularly sonorous, but there is a joy to driving and old Land Rover like this. While it is always nice to have a car that is fully restored and returned to showroom new condition, there is just something more appealing about a Landie in this kind of condition; a tough old machine that is proud to work and proud to show off the scars it’s earned through its life.

    For sale
  • Land Rover Series III 2.286 Diesel Hard Top

    £18,000 £18,000

    1981 Land Rover Series III 2.286 Diesel Hard Top Full Body off restoration In Marine Ble with Limestone roof sides an wheels Galvanised chassis Axles sand blasted stripped and rebuilt with new bearings and seals then repainted Healthy engine referred pump new injectors and heater plugs fully repainted in oven baked in 2 pack New Parts Outer wings O/S door top and bottom with new glass and all seals N/S door top and bottom with new glass and all seals rear door complete door hinge set with stainless bolt kit O/S and N/S rear quarter panels complete rubber seals for door etc side steps mud flaps X4 Exhaust Front Bumper Galvanised All iron work re galvanised including front panel Alternator Full engine hose kit Battery head lamps & full light kit Sills Floor footwells and muck guards Mirrors Door Handles x 3 Parabolic springs X4 All brake pikes Brake Pads and Cylinders Ball joint and truck rods four new brake drums Battery - tool box replaced Seal box sides Dash top and bottom in black leather New seats x 3 seat belts rear load mat Heavy duty foot well mats in rubber Original clock Front vent seals Scren seals Refurbished wheels New tyres under rear body rails replaced Hub end caps En

    • Year: 1981
    • Mileage: 82000 mi
    For sale

    £6,995 £6,995

    Land Rover had continued to update the original 1948 model from inception, and the Series III was the culmination of nearly thirty years of development and improvements. For the first time, they sought a new buyer demographic, amongst leisure users. The Series III had the same body and engine options as the preceding IIA and was little changed cosmetically from the IIA to the Series III, however, the III is the most common with 440,000 of the type built from 1971 to 1985.;The headlights were moved to the wings on late production IIA models from 1968/9 onward (ostensibly to comply with Australian, American and Dutch lighting regulations) and remained in this position for the Series III. The traditional metal grille, featured on the Series I, II and IIA, was replaced with a plastic one for the Series III model. The 2.25-litre engine had its compression raised from 7:1 to 8:1 increasing the power slightly although the high compression engine had been an optional fit on the IIa model for several years, During the Series III production run between 1971 and 1985, the 1,000,000th Land Rover rolled off the line in 1976.;First registered on 19th March 1973, this Series III Land Rover has had, incredibly, just one owner from new. Having been supplied initially by Land Rover dealer, MJ Fews, this Series III has been enjoyed by the same gentleman for all 43 years of its life and is in very original condition, even down to the original radio. It has a beautiful patina both inside and out, and we are told the engine and gearbox all run smoothly. It has retained the original 'wing mounted' mirrors, however, more modern mirrors and an extra brake light have been added to assist with modern driving conditions. All the panels seem true, but there is evidence of occasional brushes with the scenery, which is, as I understand it, is exactly what Land Rovers are for! The removable hard-top is easily switchable with a canvas rag-top. Past MOTs and an invoice going back to 1997, show that this Series III has done less than 3,000 miles in the last 20 years, making this a remarkable vehicle. Cosmetically, there is a bit to go at, but that shouldn't matter. She is a bit like your favourite Granny; no longer wearing her 'Sunday Best' but totally reliable and always pleased to see you. One to keep.

    • Mileage: 72000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.4
    For sale
  • 1969 Land Rover IIA Hardtop 2.25


    (SOLD) This vehicle was one of the last production runs in late 1968, and was therefore titled as a 1969 due to its delivery date, but bears all the specifications of a 1968 Land Rover. It has had minimal owners since new and previously received a frame off restoration with all systems gone through and documented with photos. It has been maintained in its original condition. The body is all aluminum, fitted with galvanized steel bracing for protection, a heavy box frame for strength, high gear range and rear wheel drive for open road cruising, low gear range for climbing and descending with 4 wheel drive for still more traction. It has been recently serviced by Land Rover professionals as documented by receipts. It is accompanied by an original tool kit, owners’ manuals, instruction booklet, photo album of restoration, and original brochures. This is a true classic all-terrain vehicle that is very sought after for its rarity, and collectability.

    • Year: 1969
    • Mileage: 5833 mi
    For sale
  • Land Rover Series

    £990 £990

    Looking for all Series 1 Land Rovers Early Series 2 Original/Low Mileage Series 3. Ideally 1948 - 1960. We are interested in complete vehicles, part restored vehicles, museums pieces and all barn finds in any condition. Cash paid and same day collection can be arranged, hassle free sale. Best prices paid we won't be beaten. Please text or call on 078255 87155 or 07767 414000. We Buy Nationwide. http://www.williamsclassics.co.uk Try our new free valuations service http://www.williamsclassics.co.uk/valuations/ Thanks for looking.

    • Year: 1948
    • Mileage: 200 mi
    For sale
  • Land Rover Series III 2.25 Factory County Station Wagon

    £17,500 £17,500

    1982 Land Rover Series 3 Factory County Station Wagon, Petrol, super runner, in arrow red, with cloth trim, 6 seats, cubby box, new footwells, pair of wings, 2 complete doors including glass, seals and handles, rear door, sills, all new lights, blasted and refurbished and painted axles, new brake pipes and flexis, safari roof in perfect condition, free wheeling hubs, overdrive new set of wolf wheels and tyres, mud flaps x 4, muck shields replaced, marshland galvanised chassis, new parabolic springs x 4, new shocks brake pipe x lexis, polybrushed, waxoyled chassis, just going through a major refurb comes fully serviced & MoT, 5 owners only covered 43258 miles £17500.00 WE CAN DELIVER NATIONWIDE PLEASE ASK FOR QUOTE Please fill out the form below and we will contact you shortly. Please let us know the vehicle you are enquiring about. Between 3 and 12 characters. Between 3 and 60 characters. Must be a valid email address. Between 5 and 100 characters. Between 3 and 100 characters. Min 5, max 5000 characters. Please complete the captcha. Copyright © 2017 Silkstone 4x4. All Rights Reserved.

    • Year: 1982
    • Mileage: 43258 mi
    For sale
  • Land Rover Series III 88 2.25 Petrol factory station wagon

    £20,000 £20,000

    1974 Land Rover Series III Petrol factory station wagon with Safari roof in Sand Stone, with black trim, 7 seats, FWH, overdrive fitted, taxation class historic vehicle, No road tax to pay, must be one of the best series III's available, chassis never been repaired had waxoyled on the chassis from new, we fit new springs, shocks, poly bush, major service and MoT, new mud flaps x4, 1st owner 36 years 2nd over 5 years which he had only taken it to the Land Rover Shows, covered 3000 miles in the past 5 years, 1 former keeper only covered 63600 miles you won't find a better genuine series 3 ready £20000.00 WE CAN DELIVER NATIONWIDE PLEASE ASK FOR QUOTE Please fill out the form below and we will contact you shortly. Please let us know the vehicle you are enquiring about. Between 3 and 12 characters. Between 3 and 60 characters. Must be a valid email address. Between 5 and 100 characters. Between 3 and 100 characters. Min 5, max 5000 characters. Please complete the captcha. Copyright © 2017 Silkstone 4x4. All Rights Reserved.

    • Year: 1974
    • Mileage: 63600 mi
    For sale
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