Choosing an engine for your Series Land-Rover (written in 2005)

There are many reasons for replacing the engine in your Land-Rover with something else. Most of the time, in my opinion, you're fooling yourself, the stock engine is fine, and you are not going to get a return on your investment by replacing the engine.

I composed the following table while looking for engine alternatives for

Note: Be careful when comparing engine power and torque ratings on paper

Manufacturers like to make their own product look better. So they cheat by giving higher figures than you are ever going to get from a real engine. In the bad old days they measured the engine output after disconnecting the alternator, fan, water pump, and everything else that they thought they could get away with. This is supposedly not the case any more, but some of the figures I have here were published many years ago. Some were published as SAE, some as NETT, others use DIN, and I don't always know which is which.

Case in point. Land Rover's figures for the 2 1/4 are given below, as are the figures for a highly tuned (by 2 1/4 standards) engine, obtained off a Dyno. Guess which is higher?

Also note the 35% difference in NETT vs SAE output for the Chev 2.5.

Note the second :

I live in South Africa. The following table reflects engines that are available locally. Your Milage May Vary.

The November 2003 issue of Land Rover Owner magazine lists the following engines which are apparently good conversions if you live in the UK: Rover V8 80bhp@4500 116ft-lb@2500 / Perkins 2L TD 80bhp@4500 116ft-lb@2500 (I suspect a cut-and-paste error) / Daihatsu 2.8L TD 101bhp@3400 181ft-lb@1900 / GMC 6.2L V8 diesel 160bhp@3800 290ft-lb@1900 (Not suitable for Series) / Peugeot 2.5 TD 95bhp@4500 116ft-lb@2500 / Ford V6 109bhp@4800 146ft-lb@3000 (lacks low-down torque for off-roading)

  Power Torque Source Weight Source
Land-Rover 2.25 Petrol52kW@4000rpm163Nm@2000rpm TeriAnn's page   
Land-Rover 2.25 Petrol43.8kW@3560rpm145Nm@1467rpm Paul Oxley's 2.25 with 9.1:1 CR, Weber 36DCD7, branches & freeflow exhaust (Dyno figures, at JHB elevation)
Land-Rover 2.6 6cyl Petrol67kW@4500rpm178Nm@1500rpm TeriAnn's page   
Land-Rover 2.5 Turbo Diesel (Falcon 100TD)63kW@4000rpm203Nm@1800rpm TeriAnn's page   
Land-Rover 200 TDi83kW@4000rpm198Nm@1800rpm TeriAnn's page   
Land-Rover 300 TDi84kW@4000rpm265Nm@1800rpm TeriAnn's page   
Land-Rover 3.5 V8 Petrol (Stage 1)68kW@3500rpm224Nm@2000rpm TeriAnn's page   
Land-Rover 3.5 V8 Petrol85kW@4000rpm251Nm@2500rpm TeriAnn's page   
Chev 2.5 4cyl Petrol 67kW@4000rpm (90HP) 205Nm@2400rpm (152ft-lb) Scott's Nova Resource Site
Using TeriAnn's conversions, 8.5:1 CR

Engine Weight FYI
Chev 2.5 4cyl Petrol65kW@4600rpm193Nm@3600rpm NETT Auto Data Digest information for Chev Nomad, 8.5:1 CR
Chev 2.5 4cyl Petrol88kW@4600rpm220Nm@3200rpm SAE Auto Data Digest information for Chev 2500, 8.5:1 CR
Chev 4.1 6cyl Petrol 116kW@4200rpm (155HP)317Nm@1600rpm (235ft-lb) Scott's Nova Resource Site
Using TeriAnn's conversions, 8.5:1 CR.
200kg Engine Weight FYI
Chev 4.1 6cyl Petrol 82kW@3800 (110HP)250Nm@1600rpm (185ft-lb) Scott's Nova Resource Site
NETT figures (post 1972), 8.5:1 CR.
ADE 236 Diesel (Perkins 4236) 55kW@2800rpm243Nm@1400rpm CAR Magazine August 1983, via Sats Oosthuizen   
Toyota 2C-T 2.0 Turbo Diesel65kW@4000rpm176Nm@2200rpm Toyota Industries   
Toyota 3C-T 2.2 Turbo Diesel74kW@4200rpm216Nm@2600rpm Toyota Industries   
Toyota 3C-TE 2.2 Turbo Diesel94kW@4000rpm206Nm@2200rpm Toyota Industries   
Toyota 2L 2.4 Diesel61kW@4200rpm162Nm@2400rpm Toyota ZA website, look under Hilux Single Cab   
Toyota 2L-T 2.4 Turbo Diesel72kW@3800rpm240Nm@2400rpm Email on the overland list.   
Nissan RD28 6cyl n/a Diesel68kW@4600rpm170Nm@2400rpm Pierre Douglas' page   
Nissan LD28 6cyl n/a Diesel69kW@4400rpm200Nm@2000rpm TeriAnn's page 248 kgLRW June 1996

The gearbox is the weak point

As the table shows, the 2.6 6 cyl LR petrol engine makes 178Nm, while the 4.1 Chev makes 317Nm (SAE, which is probably around 160 and 280 "real" Nm). The former does not eat gearboxes, the latter does. (Paul Oxley believes that the Series IIA gearbox is strong enough for the 4.1 Chev. OTOH I have seen bits fall out of a Series IIA gearbox along with the drained oil -- could have been the 4.1, could have been the owner -- I think Paul and I are in agreement that the 4.1 Chev pushes the upper limit of the SIIA gearbox. I do know of many Land Rovers and at least two Forward Controls with the Chev engine, the conversion does work, but be careful!)

Sanity check 1: The South African Series IIIS (our "equivalent" to the Stage 1) used the R6 petrol engine (82kW@4750/202Nm@2200) or the 236 diesel engine (55kW@2800/243Nm@1400) and the "Santana" gearbox which is stronger than the standard Series III unit.

Sanity check 2: The Stage 1 used a V8 detuned to 224Nm, with a Range Rover gearbox.

Sanity check 3: TeriAnn Wakeman says that Series gearboxes can take about 120 HP (90kW). See her very informative Gearbox page. Since torque = (power*9549)/RPM, this gives a maximum torque of 215 Nm (assuming that the 90kW is developed at 4000 rpm) to 245 Nm (assuming 3500 rpm).

Conclusion: The limit of the Series IIA gearbox lies between 200 and 250Nm. IMO. YMMV.

The other considerations when selecting an engine are size, shape, spares availability, and of course price.

Something else that's important to me, but not necessarily to you, is a moderately high revving engine. The road from Cape Town to where the overlanding fun starts is long, and uphill, and an engine which can maintain revs up and down hills is a definite plus. (As an aside, I think I hold the record, Bellville to Oudtshoorn, 8 hours in a 2 1/4 diesel (for those of you who are not familiar with the road, you can do it in four hours with a car)). That kind of points to a turbo diesel and not a naturally aspirated one. (The ADE 236 is waaaay out, for example -- it will probably tow a house up a mountain, but it might just take a loooong time :-)

Technical diversion alert:

    An engine runs most efficiently at its torque peak, and at full throttle. A standard SII Land-Rover, with 7.50 x 16 tyres, gets 27.4 km/h for each 1000 engine rpm. So, the 2 1/4 is most efficient at 55km/h... how many people do you know that cruise at 55km/h?

Assuming that you prefer to cruise at 80 - 100 km/h, an engine with peak torque at 2900 - 3700 rpm would be a better choice.

For the 109 Forward Control, with 9.00 x 16tyres, the figure is 22.6 km/h per 1000 rpm, but of course a 70 - 80 km/h cruising speed is more realistic than 100 km/h. So, a torque peak at 3000 - 3500 rpm would be nice.

(Note: I know that engine efficiency is not directly related to fuel consumption. But, if you are pulling a load up a hill, your fuel consumption will be lower closer to your engine torque peak. And with a Land-Rover, you're always pulling a load up a hill :-)

The point I'm trying to make here is that a lower revving engine (like the 4.1 Chev) will use more fuel on the open road than a higher revving engine (like the 3CT) -- which is something we knew already.

Decisions, decisions

109" Station Wagon: (2003-12-17) I am very happy with the Chev 2.5 in the yellow Rand-Lover. I would not recommend it as an upgrade to the 2 1/4, if your 2 1/4 is running fine, leave it alone. The Chev is just a bit more nippy, which is quite useful, but not that awesome.

Series IIA Forward Control:

My choices seem to be between the 2 or 3C-T, 2L-T, RD28, or the 100TDi Falcon (The LR TDi engines are too expensive, the Chev 4.1 is too powerful for my liking, and the LD28 just doesn't float my boat :).

The 2C-T is a bit on the weak side, and after our one-week trip to Hazyview and back (Dec 2003) I decided I need as much power as possible. I would say that it's an option for a shortie or a pickup though, the price is certainly good (The back of the CAR magazine gives prices around R3500 (Jun 2002). It's bigger brother, the 3C-T, is apparently an excellent choice for a Forward Control (Note: 60mph is 96km/h, and 23mpg is 8 km/l or 12 l/100k, assuming Imperial gallons), but it wasn't used in anything locally (that I know of), and as such spares might be problem. On paper, it does look the best of the diesel bunch. I've also been told that it's a "new generation" diesel, for what it's worth. Expensive at R7000 to R8000, condition unknown.

The 2L-T is the same engine as the 2L, with a turbo added. (I would assume the pistons are different?) And the 2L is the 2.4 diesel that is used in the Toyota Hilux Bakkie, which means that spares will not be a problem at all. This alone is a compelling reason to go with the 2L-T. On the other hand, making a turbo diesel out of a normally aspirated engine is not always the best way to go -- the bottom end is not necessarily designed to handle the higher stress of the added turbo. Also, this engine may be a bit on the powerful side for the gearbox. And it's pretty expensive, around R7000 to R8000. Ray Hall Turbocharging has power and torque curves for the 3L and 3L-T (2.8 litre version of 2L) online.

The RD28 is a naturally aspirated 6 cylinder diesel, which is apparently a very nice engine. Relatively cheap too, R3500-ish (Jun 2002). Unfortunately spares can be a major issue -- this engine was never used in any South African vehicles. And, like the 2C-T, it might just be a little "pap" for a Forward Control. Nice and cheep, though...

The Falcon (100TD) engine has a bad name in South Africa. I know. I also know that the Cottons know how to fix it. They also add an intercooler (making it a TDi :-) which is supposed to add a bit of power ( SAC claims 30%, in general, but I would take that with a lot of salt). This can be a good engine at a good price, and needs to be considered. But I would prefer something higher-revving.

So, at the moment I'm leaning towards the 3C-T. This changes every week. Time (and budget) will tell.


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