The latest episode of "Jay Leno's Garage" is out and highlights a real Cold War relic. It's a 1972 Land Rover Series III that was used by the British military.
Current owner Alex Grappo, who previously brought his Porsche 959 to the garage, explains that this Land Rover is a genuine "X-MOD" or "ex-Ministry of Defence" Series III similar to the type that operated along the Berlin Wall.
Launched in 1971, the Series III was the last of the Series Land Rover models. It replaced the Series II that dated to 1958, which in turn had replaced the original Land Rover Series that launched the brand in 1948. After the Series III, Land Rover briefly switched to 90 and 110 nomenclature (referencing wheelbase length) for its traditional models, before rebranding them as the Defender.
Series III models were built with 88-inch or 109-inch wheelbases. This is one of the long-wheelbase models, and it's powered a 2.6-liter inline-6 engine. Land Rover estimated 70 hp and 120 lb-ft of torque, but Grappo considers those figures to be "optimistic." What little power there is is routed to all four wheels through a 4-speed manual transmission. The Series III was the first Land Rover with synchromesh gears.
Information about this specific vehicle's service history is scarce, but Grappo says his "best guess" based on research so far is that it was an FFR model used as a radio truck. He points out a small box on driver's side front fender, which he says was used as a mounting point for communications equipment.
A Land Rover of this vintage can be a bit slow for modern traffic, but Grappo has taken the Series III to Moab and confirms that it's the real deal off-road. And it gets plenty of attention no matter where it goes.