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So, what does a decent 80 look like? Part 1.


Super Moderator
Feb 24, 2010
Country Flag
We get many requests for help in finding a decent 80 series and it can get a little repetitive giving the same advice over and over. The pool of vehicles to draw from is getting smaller and of course they keep getting a year older. Naturally everyone would like a time-warp example bubble wrapped in a barn somewhere with delivery mileage only, but get real; there really aren’t many of those to be found if any. So what’s a real dog look like? Well if you can’t tell that then you must be a Landrover owner. This is not a guide for the expert owner; it’s there for those new to 80’s and not that experienced in buying a 20 year old 4x4. Somethings really don't need explaining but other bits might just help you to find one that’s worth having.

So what does a decent 80 look like? What are the things that tell a story?

This is NOT an advert for mine; it’s a guide to help people tell good enough from the not so good. This one could really do with a good vac out and a wash and polish to be fair. What I can’t show you is how well one can drive. If it feels a bit vague, sluggish, lumpy or just not nice, then there IS something wrong. A good one should feel like driving a new car and should put a smile on your face. Most driving niggles can be corrected but if the there are loud knocking noises from under the bonnet, best to walk away to be safe.

Firstly, it should look nice and straight at the front with no saggy bumper corners or sheets of lacquer missing off the bonnet. On the diesel there are two TURBO decals on the rear quarter panel. Having both of those is an indication that at least that area is original. It’s not a cast iron guarantee, but very often one or both don’t get replaced after painting. On this one, they have actually been removed through choice. That much I do know.It's good to see nice bright headlamps with no corrosion and both squirter jets in place. If there is a little mirror on the wing then it's most likely an import. Don't worry. They all came out of the same factory in Japan.

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The wheels look good here, no corrosion or ugly e bay replacements. Look for decent branded tyres too. These things take a bit of stopping and you want quality rubber on the road. Check the spare under the rear floor too and that there's a tool kit for getting it down and fitted if you need it. Also the side running boards are lovely and straight. Give them a test with your foot to see if they are properly bolted on!

It should start first touch and idle around 800 RPM. The diff locks should lock without having to reverse up a hill and the lights on the dash should all come on. The oil pressure gauge can be a little vague but this one’s perfect. The ABS light should come on with the diffs locked or in low range unless the grey plug has been removed from the transfer box (auto).

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There should be a rotary dial just above your left knee to lock the front and rear diffs. If there isn't then again, it's probably an import with only a centre lock and a rear LSD. This one has the optional centre diff lock button on the dash. Without it, the diff only locks when you go into low range. Note the super hi tech and ultra desirable tapo cassetto machino. Complete with Max Webster album. If there is an electric aerial, it's unlikely to work. However, this one does and can still receive radio Caroline on AM.

Also in this picture is the AC panel. This one has climate control denoted by the auto button. Some only have the AC on / off. Well actually some don't have AC at all.

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Inside should look nice and be somewhere you’d want to sit as a driver or passenger. Look in the corner of the windscreen for water marks. It could be a leaking screen or leaking sunroof.

Whilst we're peering out over the bonnet, just take hold of the wiper arms and give them a little wiggle. There will be play but if they wobble around like a drunk weather-vane, the wiper relay rods are going to want changing (£100)

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Seats, especially the driver’s seat get very badly worn. If the leather has not split then the seats can easily be re stuffed. Once they’ve torn, it’s a major repair. Finding un-ripped seats is quite rare. The back seats usually fair quite well.

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Looking under the bonnet (this is a 12valve) it’s nice to see the original battery cover in place on the nearside. Here we can also see a nice black air con condenser in front of the main radiator, which has a genuine Toyota rad cap too. No leaks from the AC system and the AC runs cold with green fluid going round the sight glass against the nearside wing or near the headlight.

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OK looks tidy, let’s move on.

The sliding side windows have slit drains in the bottom of the runners and these can block up leading to water sitting in the guides. These can corrode and will look swollen and lumpy under the seal. They can be replaced of course.

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The tailgate is a classic point for rust. The lower edge in particular just in from each corner. Caught early enough they can be fixed in a paint shop. Some rust can also bee found around the wiper arm. New top tail gates are actually available to paint.

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In part 2 we’ll take a look underneath at the oily bits
This is going to be a very informative thread, both to the uninitiated and the initiated.
It might seem odd to have a thread actually showing the poorer parts of the 80 but as I said, we do keep answering the same questions again and again. I figured that a visual aid might be a bit more help than just descriptions. If we can try to keep the tread on track it would be helpful. I will post part 2, the oily bits as soon as I can. This green one isn't factory / showroom underneath, but most aren't. So people generally don't have a comparison to work from. What's fine and what's rotten?
My turbo decals are missing.... hang on, come to think about it, so is the turbo :lol:

Nice idea Chris, should be helpful to those coming from the darker regions of Cruiser ownership, or non-Toyota types :icon-biggrin:
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