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Diesel Conversion: 1989 Range Rover Classic SWB

This 1989 Range Rover Classic SWB is a project, but a running one with lots of big-dollar parts thrown at it. The Range Rover features a  fully rebuilt 300 TDI engine shipped from a specialist in the UK accompanied by a rebuilt automatic transmission. Loads of other parts have been thrown at it as well, almost all of it focused on the chassis and other drivetrain upgrades. The curious detail is that the remaining issues are largely cosmetic in nature and focused on the interior; it’s a shame the seller won’t see it through to completion, as it looks like a truly one-of-a-kind build that is almost completely restored. Find it here on eBay where bidding is at $15,500 with no reserve.

Man, this thing looks awesome. I’m a big fan of vintage Range Rovers, but given how many of them have fallen out of enthusiast’s hands and down the slippery slope of cheap third- and fourth-owners, I’m reticent to buying one as a project. The good news is there’s still an excellent parts supply given how many of these Classic models have ended up in the salvage yard, and a wealth of information to be had from enthusiast groups. This seller is clearly one of them, considering the lengths he’s gone through to retrofit this forest green example for the long-haul with an overbuilt turbo diesel engine and other enhancements, not limited to Terra Firma shocks and springs, dual batteries, and custom VDO gauges.

Now, the seller claims it needs “…complete interior restoration.” I am hoping he or she just has ridiculously high standards because this interior really doesn’t look that bad. Heck, there was a salvage yard I used to frequent in Connecticut (sadly, closed now) that had a complete Range Rover of this same vintage with a mint interior that could be swapped right into this truck. But again, I see nothing here I couldn’t live with indefinitely, and you could likely have all the parts you need after a few junkyard runs. The seller specifically calls out the “….kick panels/floorboards on driver and passenger side” as needing replacement, and also mentions that the paint job needs some work.

Honestly, if I’m just driving this thing off-road, I’m not too worried about cosmetics. Now, the biggest limiting factor I see about this Range Rover is the engine swap. That’s because the seller points out that the low-revving diesel engine that’s been swapped in doesn’t like speeds above 55 miles per hour. Now, I lived with a vintage diesel in my Toyota HiAce, and while it would kiss 55 to ensure it could keep up with the slowest commuter, it wasn’t happy about it. I almost wonder if the seller took away a bit of the enjoyment factor by dropping in the Euro-spec diesel mill, given they’re not interstate-friendly. Still, it’s a terrific-looking truck with some desirable parts, so hopefully, the next owner takes it all the way.


  1. Howie Mueler

    If it runs so great why is it on a trailer?

    Like 3
  2. Car Nut Tacoma

    Beautiful looking Range Rover. I remember the 1st gen Range Rover looking like this when it was offered here in the USA. It’s a damn shame that it was never offered in the USA with a Diesel engine, or even a Turbo Diesel.

    Like 0

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