In Land Rover’s more than 70-year history, the British company has produced a wide array of models, including more-than-a-handful of purpose-built military vehicles. Among these mil-spec Land Rovers was the Series III Lightweight, a modified version of the short-wheelbase Series IIA built to be suspended from and air-dropped from a Westland helicopter informally known as the “Air Portable.”
In order for the Series III to meet the weight requirements to be carried by helicopter, the lab coats at Land Rover had to find a way to shave more than 400lbs from the rugged off-road 4X4’s stock weight, as well as needing to shorten the vehicle’s width by four-inches for it to fit on a standard shipping pallet. To accomplish this all non-vital components and interior amenities were stripped and the bodywork was given a thorough redesign that saw the British build bestowed with lighter, removable body panels, doors, roofs, and a front-end that sported a new visual design with a heavily-revised bumper and headlight arrangement. Despite their relatively large production numbers, surviving examples today are rare finds, making it all the more noteworthy that Bonhams is currently slated to see a 1978 Series III Lightweight example cross the auction block at the upcoming Scottsdale Sale. The specimen boasts all-original bodywork, a 73-horsepower, 2.25L, OHV, inline-four engine married to a four-speed transmission. Being offered without reserve, this ’78 Air Portable is expected to fetch between $25-35K.