Land Rover Series 1,2 & 3

Land Rover Series 1 Development History


The following publications were used as resource materials:
Land Rover Simply the Best by Martin Hodder; The Land Rover Directory 1986 Edition; The Land Rover, Workhorse of the World by Graham Robson

Time Line
Rolling chassis
    Work begins on the first prototype vehicle.
April 1948

Pre-production models and a few production models had galvanised chassis and integral front bumper.

  First pilot production models displayed at Amsterdam motor show 30th April. Launch price £450.
July 1948
Engine 1595cc inlet-over-exhaust developed for the Rover P3 saloon car.
50bhp at 4000rpm. 80ft lb of torque at 2000 rpm.9in Rover clutch (soon changed for Borg & Beck version).
80in wheelbase 50in track.
Tyres Avon Trackgrip 6.00x16 on split rim wheels.
Front mounted capstan winch, centre power take-off, rear capstan winch or drivebelt drum or direct drive shaft.
Steel only used for bulkhead and reinforcing cappings for rear body and doors.
Initially only a pickup body available in standard and deluxe versions.
Seats were spade shaped but one-piece back rest in deluxe model.
3-seater canvas cab with opening rear curtain.

First vehicles delivered.

First 40 vehicles painted grey-green. Next few thousand painted Avro Anson 'cockpit green'.
Chassis painted silver initially then changed to green.

kerb weight about 22cwt

acceleration 0-40mph in about 18sec.

fuel consumption 24-28mpg


Oct 1948
  Tickford station wagon introduced with seats for 7 people. 4 rear seats fold back for increased load space. Winding glass windows. Flashing direction indicators. Only 641 sold before discontinued. Most station wagons exported.
Permanent 4WD with free-wheel device between transfer box and front prop shaft. The P4 car gearbox used from end of the year. Optional snow plough was offered to the North American market. In the financial year 1948-49 8,000 vehicles were produced.
Land Rovers entered military service.
Some Land Rovers exported in kit form (CKD). 80in exported to US late in the year

Free-wheel device discontinued.
Dog clutch to enable 4-wheel braking.
Gearbox from the Rover P4 car is used

A metal van top was available.
Interior heater added as standard instead of optional extra.

Front grill changed so that headlamps no longer shine through the grill.

In the financial year 1950-51 16,085 vehicles were produced.
Feb 1950
  Removable metal hard top introduced. Seat backs changed from spade to shovel shaped.  
April 1950
  Seat backs increased in size.  
May 1950
August - Engine capacity increased to 1997cc('Siamese borer'). About 2bhp more than 1595cc unit. Torque 110 ft lb at 1500rpm.
Chassis strengthened with transverse bracings and outrigger supports.
2 wheel-drive selectable in high gears.

End of Tickford station wagon production.
Sidelamps moved from windscreen bulkhead to wing fronts.
Proper exterior door handles introduced.
Detachable truck cab available, usually painted cream.
Front grill now surrounds headlamps instead of covering them.

acceleration 0-40mph in about 14 sec

fuel consumption about 21mpg

    Land Rovers in active military service in Korea.
Minerva Land Rovers in production in Belgium
Engine (1997cc) fitted with water channels between all cylinders ('Spread bore' - overcame overheating problem).
86in and 107in wheelbase introduced.
Truck cab version and hard tops become available(on introduction of 86in model).
107in chassis available as pickup only at first.
Both new models had recessed door handles and a new instrument panel.

Tempo Land Rovers in production in Germany.

Models available in blue or grey in addition to dark green.
All models available with capston winch at front and PTO at rear or centre.

  107in station wagon fitted with safari roof as standard.
88in and 109in wheelbase introduced.

109in available with normal or deluxe fitted cab.
4 door 10 seater model available
Beige available as a body colour.

British army adopts Land Rover as its standard lightweight 4WD vehicle.
End of Minerva Land Rover production.
Santana of Spain agreement to build Land Rovers under licence - production begins 1958until 1983.
June 1957

2052cc diesel engine introduced (overhead valves and roller tappets).
52bhp at 3500rpm. Torque 87ft lb at 2000rpm.


max speed 53mph

fuel consumption upto 35mpg

April 1958
    Last of over 211,000 Series I's produced (about 70% exported).
Sept. 1958
  Last 107 station wagons produced.  

A History of Your Own Vehicle

The Archive of the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust offer the proud classic car owner a Heritage Certificate which is a certified copy of the entry against your chassis number in the authentic factory ledgers. You will discover the original numbers and colour scheme, dates of build and despatch, even, where available, the details of factory fitted equipment.

Visit the Heritage Motor Centre website for more details.

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