Three’s a Crowd

Dave Pinner took parts from three Lightweight Land Rovers to restore this Half-Ton Series IIA Lightweight GS

Words & pictures Louise limb

The Citroen 2CV’s suspension could withstand freight release landings of up to ten feet from Wessex helicopters and an aim of the Lightweight was to match this

Dave Pinner is no stranger to Land Rovers, having owned and tinkered over the years with more than he can remember; his two latest restorations are Series IIA Lightweights.

One is a genuine RAF General Service (GS) model, in RAF Blue Grey and the other, from February 1969, is also a GS and is no 994 of the first 1,000 Series IIA Lightweights made; approximately 3,000 of which rolled off the production line before the Series III Lightweight superseded the IIA.

The route to completing the Lightweight’s restoration was a circuitous one and the Land Rover you see here combines the best parts from three different vehicles.

As Dave says: “It all started about three years ago. I’d had my eye on a derelict series III Fitted For Radio (FFR) 24V Lightweight that I’d spotted many years earlier in a field near where I live. It was still there after ten years and after some enquiries, I contacted the owner. He said if I wanted it, I could take it away. So I did.”

Standing in a field for so many years had reduced the chassis and bulkhead to rust and as it was loaded onto a trailer the Land Rover’s chassis broke in half. The first job was to find a replacement chassis and bulkhead.

Rather than find new replacements, over the next couple of years Dave ended up buying two incomplete Series IIA GS 12V Lightweights that he came across on his travels, one of which was a February 1969 GS model and the vehicle he would eventually restore.

Note the easy release, flush door hinges as roof, doors, upper rear body and tailgate were stripped for air transport
Ironically, in its built-up form, the Lightweight was heavier than the civilian Series IIA it was derived from

As he says: “One had some body panels but no engine and the other had most of the body missing and a Ford V6 engine.” The latter had been civilianised after it left the MoD with a Steve Parker conversion.

Dave’s original intention was to create a replica Series IIA RAF Lightweight but then he came across a genuine one on an auction site. This seemed a better idea than, as Dave puts it, “trying to make the three source vehicles into what in military circles is called a Walt (named after Walter Mitty, dreaming of being someone you’re not).”

The exemplary RAF blue restoration complete, Dave returned to his drive full of Lightweights and work began restoring the early Series IIA as an army vehicle.

Reasonably sound, the chassis from the early Series IIA needed a few repairs including a new rear crossmember. He chose the better of the two lower bulkheads from the Series IIAs though it still required substantial work. Both footwells and A-panels were replaced, together with about a third of the flat panel that forms the main face of the dash. He also had to rebuild the middle side sections of the footwells from scratch as nobody makes replacement panels any more. With some minor repairs a used upper bulkhead sourced from an auction site completed the task.

Dave had planned to replace the Ford V6 engine with the original 2,286cc four cylinder petrol one from the Series III Lightweight he’d found in the field, but the 24V configuration meant that, among other difficulties, it had a different distributor, starter motor and generator.

Luckily, a Series III 12V ex-military engine came up for sale near where Dave lives in the Yorkshire Dales and, complete with all its ancillaries, cost only £100 at a fixed price from an auction site.

In adding an oil cooler, Dave ensured the Lightweight was one step closer to its original specification. He simply had to clean and paint the engine along with fitting a new carburettor and an electronic distributor to get it running well. Fitting the Series III gearbox from the FFR in the field and a new clutch sorted the transmission. Axles, steering and suspension all came from the early Series IIA. Dave fitted new trackrod ends throughout the steering system, new UJ joints and boots on the propshafts and new brake shoes and wheel cylinders for the axles. Brake pipes and flexibles were replaced too.

Dave had to rebuild sections of the footwells from scratch
A robust job has been completed in returning this Lightweight to active duties on ‘civvy street’
From shot blasting lamp holders to galvanising small metal parts, Dave ensured that all the details were taken care of
The dash, instrument panels and upper bulkhead were all sourced separately from an online auction site
All surfaces have been painted or galvanised for protection and for a tidy restoration and a correct, secondhand canvas tilt completes the weatherproofing
sound and correct 2,286cc Rover petrol engine was acquired through an online auction site
Dave has found that spare headlamp rims are becoming scarce
The distinctive headlamps in the grille were derived from the civilian Series IIA layout

Despite the good bodywork salvaged from the engine-less donor Series IIA Lightweight, Dave needed to buy new doors and doortops. With only the lower tailgate, an upper one was sourced on an auction site. The seatbox came from the Series III Lightweight FFR, as did the floor panels.

Flat seatbox lids were made from aluminium cut to size by Frank Barrett of Keighley who also bent some angle strips to enable the lids to slot into the seatboxes, Dave fitted them together with solid countersunk rivets to provide a secure and firm fit while repairing broken spot welds on the seatbox.

All the galvanised cappings, bumpers, overriders, hood sticks, windscreen and other fittings were redone at Metaltreat in Bradford. Additional small parts which are normally painted were galvanised too, such as the pioneer tool brackets on the tailgate and the plate on the gearbox tunnel through where the 4WD selector emerges. Dave muses that purists might wince but they look better than rusty or peeling parts while in keeping with the character of the vehicle.

The correct military-style headlight rims are scarce and Dave eventually sourced some on an auction site but only two were free from rust holes. All the other lamps have the correct glass lenses and he reports that these too are getting harder to find with all four lugs intact. Replacing all the bulb holders and rubber boots with good used ones, Dave had the retaining rings shot-blasted and refinished in yellow zinc.

None of the three source vehicles had a good fuel tank between them and Dave bought a job lot of three on an auction site for a very reasonable price. However, two of them leaked and short of a second good one, Dave keeps his eye open for leaks while he looks for another.

1967: this Lightweight Land Rover with the civilian registration VXC 702F was the first production vehicle built

The Lightweight has the fittings for pioneer tools on the two-piece tailgate, the top portion of which is removed for air transportation


Make Land Rover

Model Truck, General Service Half-Ton

4x4 Rover Mk 1

Nationality United Kingdom

Year 1969

Used by British Army

Production Run 1967-1972

Engine Rover

Type Four-cylinder

Fuel Petrol

Displacement 2,286 cc

Power 77 bhp @4250rpm

Torque 124 lb-ft @2500rpm

Transmission Rover

Type Manual with 9.5in hydraulic clutch

Gears Four-speed

Transfer Box Two-speed selectable with standard rear wheel drive or 4WD

Suspension Live axles with semi-eliptic leaf springs and hydraulic telescopic dampers

Brakes Drums all around, mechanical parking brake on the transmission output shaft

Wheels 5.00in x16in

Tyres 650x16 Goodyear extra grip

Crew/seats Three front and four rear

\Dimensions (overall)

Length 144.25in

Width 60in Wheelbase 88in

Weight (unladen) 32101b (stripped) 26601b

Finished in Deep Bronze Green, Dave Pinner’s Series IIA Lightweight has been restored with British Army GS model features
During the early 1960s an airportable version of the Land Rover was developed on the existing 88in chassis
The cover of the brochure used to promote military sales of the Lightweight
Proud owner, Dave Pinner, has many years’ experience restoring Land Rovers
An early Series IIA Lightweight taking part in an amphibious landing exercise
The prototype Lightweight, seen here in 1965, had a different radiator grille to the production models

Being very resourceful, he made new fuel pipes using black PVC tubing which is used for air brake systems. Recovering the fittings from his old pipes he softened the PVC with a hot air gun enough to get them on, making leak-proof pipes of the correct colour.

Meanwhile, a new Autosparks wiring loom needed quite a bit of adaptation to get everything working.

The instrument panel is nearly correct, though has electronic oil and water temperature gauges instead of the capillary type. The ignition warning light is an original one without a separate bulb and is likely irreplaceable. The starter knob with the engraved ‘S’ was specially made by Ashley Hinton, known for his MG parts, and who has much of the original Lucas and Smiths tooling.

Original pattern seats were made to order by Undercover Covers while Dave crafted new door seals himself using the correct section rubber available from C O H Baines by mail order.

New retainers for them came from P A Blanchards and Dunsfold Land Rovers supplied the correct manual windscreen washer pump. Paintwork in Deep Bronze Green was applied by Joe Kelly and team at Ribblesdale Motors, Dave having undertaken the initial panel preparation and now that the garage is tidy of the leftover spares he has a choice. Will it be an RAF blue day or an Army green day?


Frank Barrett, Keighley

01535 661001

Metaltreat Ltd Bradford

01274 221500

Ashley Hinton, Great Bookham, Surrey

01372 456304

Undercover Covers, Birmingham

0121 622 5562

COH Baines, Tunbridge Wells

01892 543311

P A Blanchard, York

01430 872765

Dunsfold Land Rovers, Dunsfold, Surrey

01483 200567