Tales of a 3.9 litre Tdi Bushie Ute


“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading” – Lao Tzu


“Bushie Ute” is based upon a 1987 Land Rover 120 (one twenty) ute (utility). The 120 ute was only sold in Australia and only with an Isuzu 3.9 litre, 4 cylinder diesel engine. JRA (Jaguar Rover Australia) assembled 120 ute’s and 110 (one ten) station wagons in Australia until about 1990. For the 120 ute, the wheel base of the Land Rover 110 chassis was increased by approximately 250 mm (from 2794 mm, or 110 inches, to 3040 mm, or 120 inches), to allow better distribution of the payload relative to the rear axle when a normal size utility tray is fitted. Both the Isuzu 3.9 liter diesel engine and longer wheel base were key reasons in my choice of this donor vehicle.

The particular vehicle had sat for some years after the previous owner removed the diesel engine and transmission to transplant into a Range Rover. The body and seats were in poor condition, but importantly for me the chassis was very sound.



Finding a replacement engine was easy. The same engine is used in Isuzu NPR 59 and NPR 400 trucks (7000 kg GVM), and I managed to locate a turbocharged version from a 1989 NPR. Isuzu made significant improvements to this engine at the end of 1988, so I was better off than if the donor had come with the older engine. There was a six speed Isuzu MXA-6R gearbox to go with the engine.

This brochure has specifications of the pre 1986 Land Rover ute. Changes made in 1986 were a 5 speed gearbox and push button door handles.



 110 Leaflet  Land Rover 110 Brochure Two Pages from a Land Rover Brochure

Below are copies of New Vehicle Data sheets for some Land Rover 110’s. The first two pages for a 1988 station wagon and last two for a 1991 model 120 cab chassis. I could not locate data sheets for my 1987 ute donor, however this year model station wagon has the same diesel engine, and the cab chassis although having a different engine, has the same extended (120 inch) wheelbase variant as for my ute.



Below is a photograph of the compliance plate for my 120 donor, and the applicable Australian Design Rules in PDF format.

My Compliance Plate

Compliance Plate

01 02 03 04C 05B 06 07 08 11 12 18 28A 30 35A

This is a PDF format copy of the Landrover_Owners_Manual_Australian_Supplement

Brochure for Heavy Duty 6×6 Land Rover 110. These were fitted with the same 3.9 litre Isuzu turbo diesel engine as I am using.

6087-01 6087-02 6087-03 6087-04 6087-05 6087-06

Two Land Rover manuals for fitting bodies to Defender cab chassis vehicles; Defender TD5 CONVERSION_MANUAL   Defender Cab Chassis Convertor’s Manual V2 2007YM Onwards

National Code of Practice for adding bodies to truck chassis; vsb_06_j

Land Rover Defender chassis drawings

Defender 90 Chassis

Defender 110 Chassis


Defender 110 Cab Chassis


Defender 130 Cab Chassis

TD5 Cab Chassis COG Height

TD5 Cab Chassis Max COG Height at GVM

Read some more of the Land Rover 90, 110 and 130 history.

Land Rover Timeline