The Land Rover started life back in 1948 with its launch at the Amsterdam Motor Show; it was simply called the Land Rover back then and primarily designed for farm and light industrial use.
For the first 3 years of its life the Land Rover came as just one model, an 80” wheelbase 1.6 petrol engine with a 4 speed manual gear box. By 1954 there had been some changes made with the Land Rover. A 2.0 litre engine had replaced the 1.6 and 80” had become 86” with a long wheelbase version introduced with a 107” wheelbase known as the ‘station wagon’. This larger model became very popular allowing the Land Rover to be used as a people carrier transporting workmen to remote locations.
It wasn’t long before the 2.0 diesel engine was introduced along with a further increase in size to 88” for the short wheelbase and 109” for the long wheelbase. These were the dimensions to be used on the Land Rover for the next 25 years.
The Series II was introduced in 1958 with some help from Rovers styling department producing the famous ‘barrel-side’ design along with curved windows and more rounded roof. Land Rover also introduced a more powerful petrol engine, the 2.25 litre produced 72 bhp compared to the 2.0 litre only managing 50 bhp. The Series IIA was introduced just 3 years later with a new 2.25 litre diesel engine with the models growing from the SWB soft top to the top of the range 5 door station wagon. In the 60’s the Land Rover was at the top of its game holding 90% of the four wheel drive market in Australia, the middle east and Africa which clearly shows it was the best 4×4 by far.
The series III carried on the good work were the IIA left off with the front lights being moved to the wings to comply with lighting regulations in America, Australia and Holland other changes made were synchromesh gears along with some strengthening and rigidity upgrades. By 1982 a ‘County’ model was released with all new cloth seats, sounds proofing, and tinted glass giving the Land Rover a more leisure vehicle style.
One of the most important areas to examine when it comes to a series Land Rover is the chassis and bulkhead as they are both prone to rust, so investigate thoroughly as replacements are expensive. Also check foot wells, door frames and along the top and rear corners of the bodywork for corrosion. The chassis is leaf sprung and if tired will sag either at the back or the sides so make sure its fit for purpose.
It’s true to say that the Land Rover engine is a sturdy lump but not indestructible and should be well maintained, a small puff of smoke is common on start up but a continuous stream of blue smoke usually indicates engine problems. Check the oil for mayonnaise as this could mean water has got in or the car never gets up to running temperature and need a long run.
Transmission condition can be measured by how noisy and difficult it is to change gear. It should be quiet and easy. Check the ground where the Land Rover parks to see if there is an oil leak, a little is ok but a big patch is a problem. Make sure 4wd engages and disengages in both high and low range.
Steering is vague compared to modern cars, this is normal, although more than three inches of play while stationary is considered excessive. Interiors tend to have had a hard life although they are durable. Check for rips and splits in the upholstery and the dashboard.
Electrics are pretty basic but can suffer due to bad earthing. This can normally be fixed by cleaning the terminals and bulb holders.
Values of the Series I have escalated of late, take a look over the last few years:
The Series II has also enjoyed a price increase:
So has the Series III:
Mark Wilkinson, Managing Director Says:
“What can we say about the Land Rover that hasn’t been said before. It pretty much invented the four wheel drive market without any real competition for many years, and today is still the best off road production vehicle in the world. It truly is a Great British Legend”.