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Stage One - We started the Register !

Click here for Stage Ones around the world.

by Annette Flottwell

There is a Range Rover Register, a 130 Register - we want a Stage One V8 register!

The Stage One V8 is - in our opinion - the best Series Three ever built. Where diesel engines just lack power or 2 1/4 engines lose power after 150,000 kms, the Stage One V8 keeps going strong. There is nothing comparable to that joy when Sally, the prototype, revs up to 120 kms/75miles/h or passed impenetrable mudholes crossed by sheer torque.
I never believed how strong sturdy leaf springs and enough power could make such a difference. OK, today V8 addicts are outlawed by environmental laws and the diesel majority. An LPG conversion can do away with all these prejudices - no pollution, better economy than a diesel and an engine that lives easily for 300,000 kms. The diesel price has risen during the past ten years, making it in many countries more expensive than petrol. Yes I'm biased, hooked and completely spoiled. It took Takeo only 15 minutes of a test drive in Yellow Cat, my first Stage One, as she was, with the £$%ed synchro and badly adjusted carbs she had, to get me addicted. I bought her on the spot.
Nobody ever claimed that Stage Ones were popular. Still, the Swiss mountain rescue ordered the first large fleet and depended on them for many years. Fire brigades and the National Geographic institute of Belgium relayed on Stage Ones as recovery trucks.

There is no Stage One Club, no register, no model. It was about time to create a register , we thought. For all us die hards who can't live without our 20 or more year old, purring V8s on leaf springs.

The factory Protoype

Found in Yorkshire - this is why I started the register

This is Sally, the 1976 factory prototype. She has been exposed to too much salt spray by careless previous owners, but the chassis is still solid and her engine purrs nicely, the remarkable sound of her engine is as enticing as it may have been for her first testers. I don't know anything about her history yet, but I was told all these prototypes had a hard life in Eastnor Castle before they were sold to the public. Yet the past has not impressed her, the original engine is as fine as the gearbox and the overdrive - after 26 years. Wayne - the last owner told me that he had bought her with the original diagonal tyres - they were falling apart!
There are many, small difference between Sally and later, standard Stage Ones. But she already had the permanent 4 wheel drive, the central difflock and the Rangie gearing.
How do I guess it is protoype number four? Because the engine number is hand stamped LR/4. Recently, I had a very thorough look at Dunsfold's early 110 protype, built one year after Sally. Everything that I had written off as traces of backyard repairs and adaptations suddenly made sense: James Taylor told me these were inspection holes! Dunsfold explained the other half of the story, yes no chassis number and odd grey green combinations were standard for protoypes.
The engine sits higher, all interior panels that were different from a standard 109 bear the original scribe marks, the middle and front crossmember look adapted -on -the -fly, there is an experimental radiator, sortof made to fit and taken from a Range Rover. Unfortunately the original bonnet is lost, I'd love to know whether it was patched together in the same manner as the panel holding the front grille.

The rest is pretty much standard early 109, military wings, old type doors and an obviously later hardtop.

Even shifting the gears is as tight as you might expect from any Range Rover, but to my immense joy the synchro still is fine.

Sally needs a lot of attention, a donation of a bucket of Hammerite and Dinitrol would be more than welcome:-) The bulkhead and the footwells provide to much ventilation in the Flemish autumn, rain and air get in unhampered. There must have been an accident once, the replaced right front wing, the bulkhead and the later (early 110?) bonnet lead to that conclusion.

It is surprising, however, how small the differences to our later 1980 and 1982 Stage Ones are. If it took three years to launch the Stage One after Sally was built - she and the other prototypes must have been carefully tested. Though I doubt very much that the electrical equipment received as much attention as the rest. WHY did they not fit an adequate alternator?

These were our three Stage Ones - Yellow Cat, the youngest of them all, runs on LPG and is our daily transport. Sally was introduced before and Takeo's 1980 Yellow Tomcat now belongs to a couple in the Poitou

What is the difference between a Stage One and a Series Three 109 six cylinder?

The first difference is, obviously, the engine. Stage One engine numbers start with <11G0..>. They are very much like the 355... series engines in the early Range Rovers. Yes, they are listed on page IB04 of the parts catalogue. The compression is 1:8.13, carburettors are Stromberg, like in the early RRs, I do not know of nay difference other than the exhaust manifold. Please correct me if you know other differences, I'd be interested. For liability reasons, restrictor plates were fitted to these engines, only to be thrown out asap. In case you are not sure, take of the easier, co-driver side carb, and look for a stupid plate with four holes in the air intake. Wiggle it out with a pair of pliers and have fun getting the 4th bolt on the seconfd carb when you fasten it, the gain in power will be more than rewarding.
The gearbox is also LT95 RR, with a lower ratio. Diffs a the same as Range rover, the rear axle. Leave it alone and get an overdrive instead.

Mine has an ABC123 engine. How can I tell if it is a genuine Stage One?

First of all, check the chassis number. It should start with LBC, followed by A for Utilities and M for Station wagons. OK I hear you say but that makes it a six cylinder as well. Yes, but no six cylinders were built after 1978. Certainly not in 1979 when the system changed.
The fifth letter must be a V, as opposed to ther six cyl. "P". That makes it LBCAV..or LBCMV. Of course, that does NOT apply for 88s and Sally.
How much is there which is typical for a Stage One? which type of axles have you got and do they have homokinetic halfshafts? Do you have a transfer box with centre diff, is there the console in the middle of the dashboard with the control light? Which lever /knobs do you use for low gears and the difflock? Where do they sit? The chassis is also different, your batterie is under the seats. There are 200 other little differences, starting from the front grille to wiper motor bolts.

In short, a Stage One has early an RR engine, gearbox and transfer box combined with homokinetic halfshafts. Front and bonnet ae Stage One specific. The rest is pretty much heavy duty 6 cylinder 109.

There are many other adaptations, like the brown genuine 6x6 at the right. It is one of the 15 conversions made as a Land Rover Special vehicle.

How many Stage Ones have been built? Do you know when mine was built?

Frankly, I don't know how many were built. Many times I have been told several times that even Land Rover doesn't know. I know that about 500 were imported into the Netherlands, 32 were imported into Belgium and there were a few in Luxembourg.

If you want to know when your Land Rover was built, verify your chassis number and contact Land Rover. Click kere for more information.

To tell you more, I need more data. So please help !

by Annette Flottwell

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