design - Land Rover section


Series Land Rover engine conversions

Some thoughts about diesel conversions

Land Rover diesel badge

Introduction to Series Land Rover conversions

Converting a Series Land Rover to petrol V8


Back in 1999 when The Green Rover was converted from a 2.25L petrol Land Rover engine to a 302 Ford engine I had wanted to convert to a diesel engine.  I choose the petrol engine out of economics.  First there are very few diesel engines that were sold in The United States that are good choices for a Land Rover, especially a heavy Dormobile camper with three fuel tanks & on board water tank. I wanted a fresh engine and except for the big GM 6.2 V8, a fresh rebuilt diesel engine would have cost me around $8000 (major rebuild kits for diesels often run $5000).  I paid a little over $1000 for a fresh rebuilt 302 long block plus $300 for a core engine.  Going with a fresh diesel engine would have about doubled my conversion costs. The diesels I was looking at would get approximatly 8 to 10 MPG  more than a small block petrol V8 set up for economy.  At the time diesel was a bit more expensive than mid grade grade petrol and my V8 is set up to run on cheaper regular.  Running the numbers there was no way I could break even on fuel savings between rebuilds.  I did not know that some diesels ran well on used french fry oil at the time.   The question becomes do you spend a whole lot more money up front and pay a little less at each fillup or pay half as much up front and fill up more often when total conversion and operating costs slightly favour the petrol V8 set up for economy at 150,000 miles.   When looking for a diesel engine be sure to carefully total the costs and be aware of hidden costs such as buying a 'good' condition used diesel that is tired and will need a rebuild before long or searching for a rare or NLA cylinder head or manifold if the one you have cracks.   An engine with a good parts supply, available locally is by far and away your best bet.

If you are willing to go through the effort of procuring and filtering used restraunt cooking oil year after year and you pick a diesel that tolerates usd french fry oil well, the solution is a no brainer.  The diesel quickly becomes the cheaper option.  But it would be real easy to get tired of collecting, filtering and storing your own fuel over time and just hop over to the filling station.   Run the numbers before finalizing your decision.  It the States, the economic cards are stacked against diesels. 

In the U.S. we are hampered by a very small diesel engine selection in the right size, weight and power range and the high cost of parts to rebuild a diesel engine. There are a new crop of potentially "just right" diesels on the near horizon, but they will require a lot of plumbing, electrics and the price of a newish engine will likely exceed the value of a Series rig for a while. 

There was a brief surge in automotive diesels for ligt trucks and passanger cars during the late 1970's and early 1980's  The Japanese diesels disapeared from all but commercial trucks. American small truck diesels survived as an option and only Mercedes and Volkswagon kept diesels in some models of passanger cars. Small free revving diesel engines that can still be found inside the US include VW 1.5 and 1.9L fours (excellent engines but a bit on the small size for Series Land Rovers), Mercedes 616 (240D four cylinder, about the same HP as a 2.25L petrol but way less torque), Mercedes 617 five cylinder diesel (300TD, very difficult fit), A Mazda 4 cylinder diesel that was an option in small Ford Ranger pickups,  LD28, a 2.8L six cyl diesel that was an option in Nissan Maximas, the Cummins AT6, a six cylinder diesel made by a company purchased by Cummins that was used as a diesel option for a Chevy inline six i small commercial vehicles and the SD33T (3.3L Nissan six cylinder diesel that was an option in the late international Harverster Scout II).


Power (KW/HP@RPM)

Torque (NM/LbFt@RPM)


LR 2.25L Petrol

52/70 @ 4000

163/120 @ 2000

204 Kg / 450 lbs

LR 200 tdi

83/111 @ 4000

198/146 @ 1800


4 cyl 2.8L diesel,
IVECO/PS10 8140.43P.3941

92/125@3600 RPM

275/203 @ 1800


Nissan SD33 Diesel 6 cyl, no turbo

70/94 @ 3600

217/160 @ 1800

304 KG / 672 lbs dry

Nissan SD33T Diesel 6 cyl, no intercooler

105/141 @ 3800

255/188 @ 2000


Nissan LD28 Diesel 6 cyl, no turbo

69/93 @ 4400

200/148 @ 2000


Nissan LD28Td Diesel 6 cyl, turbo

118HP @ 4400

198 lbft @ 2000


Nissan LD28Tdi Diesel 6 cyl, turbo with intercooler

124 HP @ 4400

210 lbft @ 2000


Cummins 6AT Diesel, 3.4L, 6 cyl , turbo

120hp@3,600 RPM

220 lbft @2000 RPM


Isuzu 4BD1 (3.9L 4 cyl diesel)

66 / 86 @ 3200

245/ 181 @ 1900rpm

711 pounds dry

Isuzu 4BD1-T (3.9L 4 cyl turboDiesel)

 90/ 121@ 3000

314/232 @ 2200

721 pounds dry

Mercedes  OM616, 4cyl, 2.4 L

early- 48/65@4200 
late- 54/72 @4400

97 lbft @ 2400


Perkins Prima. 4 cyl

60/80 @4500 RPM

154/114 @ 2500


Mercedes/Chrysler  Sprint van 2.7 Liter 5-cylinder


243-lb. ft. @ 1600 – 2400 RPM



The Ford Powerstroke V8 diesels are big block V8s that are way too heavy for Series Land Rovers.  The Cummins BT6 used in Dodge vans are too heavy & a tad too long for Most Series rigs, but I can not help but wonder how one would work in a Land Rover forward control.  The GM 6.2 and 6.5 V8s are big block heavy engines but some people have managed to squeeze them into Series Land Rovers.  I think this is likely because these are the cheapest readilly available diesel engines available to Americans with easy to get parts at a reatively inexpensive cost. I think there were one or two Toyota diesels briefly avvailable as options in Canada but I don't think they made it to the US market.   There are people importing engines that were never sold into the States.  These are always a possibility, but parts may be very difficult to obtain down the line, service might be nonexistant and in some there may be problems registering or transfering ovwnership of vehicles with some of these newer engines.


Diesels tend to be very heavy for their displacement.



The 6.2 GM diesel is about the cheapest that can be purchased in the US.  But it is a GM big block engine that is wide, long and heavy.  It barely can be made to fit in a series engine bay and will likely require 1 ton springs up front.  The GM 6.5 is a bit bigger yet. For V8 diesels the GM 6.2 seems to be the best choice for Americans if you ever expect installation plus operating costs to exceed those of a petrol conversion.


4X4LABS - adapterd for the OM617   - GM gearbox adapter

Bendtsen's Transmssion adapters   - Automatic transmission adapter


Chevy 6.2 in a Series Land Rover
A big block Chevy 6.2 going into a Series Land Rover
photo and conversion article by Peter Hope

Cummins 6AT in a Series Land Rover
Cummins 6AT is close in size a a 292 Chevy 6 but heavier in weight

A Volkswagon 1.9 into an 88
Photo and conversion by Jim Hall

Montego turbo diesel built by Perkins.  Adapter kit by Dudleigh
Photo and Conversion by The Dudleigh Ltd.

eter Hope has managed to stuff a big 6.2 into a series bay.  He has a web site describing his modifications.

The following is an email from Peter Hope  that provides a lot of detail about GM V8 diesel conversions.  An excellent primer if you are considering going this route:

"I know of a couple other folks on the list that are also looking at this power plant. The 6.2 was originally designed as a result of the fuel conscious 1970s. The original engine would produce 20-25mpg in a full size GM pickup. Of course by the time it came off the production line things had changed and people wanted more power. So over the years the heads were slightly redesigned, different precups, different injectors, and different injector pumps were used to up the power output. This upped the HP and torque at the expense of fuel consumption. The engine had two different configurations, noted by the 8th digit of the VIN. The standard duty C and the heavy duty J. The J code features a wide open plenum on the intake, no egr, and an exhaust crossover within the intake manifold. Gale Banks also designed and sold a turbo kit for the 6.2. The GM turbo offered on the 6.5tds was based on the Banks design. Banks still sells the turbo to this day. Not to bad for a 25 yo engine. The 6.5 was also offered in a naturally aspirated version. The first couple years of the 6.5 still had a mechanical IP. The later electronic ones had some issues. Mostly in where the controller was mounted, the failed/fail due to overheating. You can get FSD coolers and/or relocation kits for these engines.

The factory output on a J-code 6.2 was something like 225-250 ftlb torque. Getting a high output IP (the 6911), opening up the air flow, larger exhaust, 6.5 high pop injectors, 6.5 heads, turn up the fuel in the IP, I dyno'd 300 at sea level and 270 here at 6400'. Getting a Banks turbo can bump that up 30-40.

The engine is very heavy, 700lbs without auxiliaries. The engine is wide, just a tad wider then a Chevy Big Block. Same length though. Uses GM engine mounts. Has the standard GM bell housing bolt pattern. Uses a special HD flywheel or flex plate. Special clutch or torque converter. The rest of the transmission is standard GM. If you want an auto I would get a 400 or 700r4 that's been internally built for the diesel. Heavy duty springs, clutch packs, etc. The standards are not a concern on the internals. A SM420, SM465, or NV-4500 are pretty bullet proof. Do NOT try a rover tranny behind one of these. I know one of the RRC conversions done in Europe kept the Rover auto and I don't think the longevity is there. The cooling system needs to be top notch, even in the GMC trucks, older systems over heat under load. Get the biggest oil cooler and radiator you can find. If I remember correctly the GMC I took my engine from had a 42"x19" radiator. If you have ever seen under the hood on a HMMWV you know what I mean.

So I am using 3-leaf RM front springs to handle the weight. I went to a defender bonnet and made my own defender like rad support. I widened the tranny tunnel of the bulkhead by narrowing the right hand side foot well 3-4". It is the same width as the left hand side now. The engine is centered between the frame rails. I am using a 31x19 radiator. I had to notch the frame to get the radiator low enough for the bonnet to close. With my structural steel tubing frame it wasn't a big deal. Not sure on a stock frame though. I do have room to tilt the radiator, not a severely as the Hummers, but it is another mounting idea. For an oil cooler I found one that measures 21x10x1.5". I also found a dual electric fan that uses twin 10" fans and it works perfectly with the oil cooler. I have a twin 16" unit mounted on the radiator.

There was a guy at last years rally in moab that put one of these engines into a 109. Dan did a much cleaner install then I did and hasn't run into the heat issues I have, even in Moab. Somehow his webpage has gotten slightly corrupted with MOG photos, but you can still see most of the Rover ones. He is not using a giant oil cooler like I am.

The real problems...

1. I have had issues with large amounts of white smoke when the engine is below 170*. Coming down trails, using engine braking, or even coming down a steep pass as soon as the temp drops down it starts smoking. I lost the exhaust valve in #7 and replaced the heads. I am still having the problem. Most of the smoke is coming from #7 too, it goes away when I loosen the fuel line at the injector to that one. I have swapped all the injectors and even replaced the #7 hard line. Compression in all 8 cylinders is in the 375-400 range. My thought now is that it's a faulty IP.

2. A couple weeks back when we went over to Grand Junction I did not have any heat issues at all on the way west. Coming back home I did get hot going up Vail pass. I was in the wrong gear and the RPMs were too low. No problems at all over Eisenhower. I have a spare engine now and I want to swap over the IP and see what that does to the white smoke, and too hot on steep hgihway passes. Off roading the truck does great. Tons of torque.

3. Noise. Even with mufflers on, exhaust pipes wrapped, and some minimal insulation in the cab it is just plain loud. Its louder then other 6.2s and louder then Hummers. Again I am thinking IP problem. Jim also mentioned that I need to double check on the fuel pressure coming from my pump (after market one). To high fuel pressure can effect the IP internal pressure and change the timing. So even with the IP set up correctly the timing might be changing as I drive. This can definitely effect noise and the white smoke.

My drive train is the engine, SM465 tranny, Dana-18 t-case, Saturn Overdrive, Tom Wood double jointed drive shafts, rear Sals, front Rover. I went with the Jeep t-case since it has the same rear offset, and adapters for the tranny are readily available. I am running coiler gears. The engine runs best at 2000-2500 RPMs. I had a Saturn overdrive mounted to the Dana-18 t-case and used that as a gear splitter. Held up for 5 years. It really looks like I made an error on instalation and the mainshaft nut retainer was not installed correctly...doah!!

You really want a gear splitter. An overdrive is nice for highway driving but the ability to get in between the gear ratios is very nice. What I am thinking about now is the Ranger overdrive. This mounts between the bellhousing and the transmission. Its designed for campers and tow rigs and can handle the power no problem. It is also intended to be used as a spliter. My ideal set up would be engine, Ranger, NV4500, atlas, Sals front and rear with 4.1 or 4.5 gears. With the NV I end up with a dual overdrive so the gearing change wont be
an issue on trips and I also retain the gear splitting ability. With a 105" wheelbase and the TW drive shafts the center output wont be an issue. I am also tossing around the idea of getting a Banks kit for the rebuild.

Now if you are looking for a good diesel to put into an 88 that will provide off road grunt and good highway MPG I would consider something else. Jims VW conversion, 300tdi, 2.8tdi or something similar. Be an easier conversion. In a 109 that will carry lots of weight I am not so sure. I plan on using the 105 to tow with and I think that when I get my issues worked out it will be just what I want. I know of a couple 109s, and a couple 110s that are running this engine with out the issues I am having. Now except for Dan it looks like the others are very, very tight installs. I could have placed the engine in my truck without modifing the bulkhead, but would have had <1/2" clearance betten the sides of the footwell and the heads.



For the inline six cylinder diesel class, the old Cummins AT6 inline six cylinder engine seems to be the best conversion.  Other inline 6's available in North America include the LD28 (Early 1980's Nissan Maxima) and the SD33 (Nissan 6 used as an option in late International Scouts).  Modern Cummins engines like the 6BT used in Dodge trucks are a lot heavier and bulkier than the earlier engines.  I have yet to hear of a successful conversion.  The Mercedes 300D engine has a number of fit issues at frame level and would require a lot more engineering.  However the engine weighs way less than the GM V8 diesels. it has a longer average time between rebuilds and gets significantly better fuel mileage  If one could iron out the fit issues, put a 5 speed gearbox with granny & overdrive gearing behind it and set up the overall gearing properly this engine could well be the best of what is available in the U.S.  There was a BMW 2.8L diesel used in some late model Land Rovers.  This appears to be a nice engine and at least one Canadian company is importing the engine and stocking parts.  But be prepared to spend at least US$5,000 for the engine alone.  You can easily spend over $10,000 by the time you have the conversion on the road doing most of the work yourself.   There might be import issues for use in a motor vehicle used on the road and you would have to import any part you need to maintain the engine.  You can buy a lot of petrol for the difference in conversion costs.

Of the four cylinder engines, the Mercedes 240D engine has been adapted but seems way underpowered for all but the lightest 88's.  Here is an excerpt from an unsigned email I received from someone who had a 616 engine in a Land Rover Series I "Ive done the mercedes 240 D swap in a 49 80 inch. I used a factory remanned motor with about 40K miles on it. Ran sweet returned fair mileage. However, its a gutless motor. Its great for an 80, but not enough oomph for anything much larger. Under 100 ft/lbs of torque." On the plus side the engine is an easy fit with decent fuel milage, tolearates used french fry oil well and Seriestek makes an adapter that will make the engine to a Series gearbox.


The Ford/IVCO conversion is common in Europe and adaptor kits are available in LR magazines.  Most of the commercial truck fours are narrow RPM band engines that are not suitable for a 4X4 but I never investigated them all.   Four cylinder diesels tend to be bone shakers.

Keep an eye out for newer diesel availability in the US. A wide revving V6 or V8 in the 3 to 4L size would likely be the ticket. Maybe the US will start seeing them after cleaner diesel becomes available in 2007.

Since I didn't have a diesel conversion  I never researched the nitty gritty nuts and bolts details.  So back to my conversion:


The ideal engine in my opinion is the 2.7 liter five cylinder turbo diesel that is in the dodge sprinter UPS Trucks. Dimensionally it will fit in a Range Rover or a Series engine bay. I went for a ride in a loaded UPS truck that weighed 8000 lbs and it shot from 0 to 72mph (governed) in an alarmingly short time. Plus, amusingly, he averages 25 MPG in it on a day to day basis. These are hard to find and cost $7,000, but what an engine!????



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