Inspired by the US Army’s wartime ‘Jeep’, developed in haste and intended for short-term, small-scale production, the Land Rover would defy its creators’ initial scepticism. Rover bosses the Wilks brothers saw the need for a tough, four-wheel-drive, utility vehicle to serve the needs of the agricultural community in the immediate post-war years, but the Land Rover’s runaway success took the company by surprise. The necessity of using corrosion resistant aluminium panels at a time of severe steel shortage turned into a positive virtue in the Land Rover’s sphere of operations, and the use of existing components – including the P3 saloon’s 1,595cc, four-cylinder, sidevalve engine – kept production costs down and cut development time. Built between 1949 and 1958, the Land Rover (retrospectively known as the ‘Series I’) was available in no fewer than five different wheelbase lengths ranging from 80” to 109”.
Some ten years after the original’s introduction it was felt that the time had come to update the Land Rover’s somewhat primitive slab-sided styling. The result was the Series II, which featured the more rounded sides that continue to characterise the Land Rover today. Introduced in 1958, the Series II was available with either the 2,286cc petrol engine or the newly developed 2,052cc diesel first seen in 1956 on what became known retrospectively as the ‘Series I’. By this time the original permanent four-wheel drive freewheel transmission had been superseded by the more conventional selectable two- or four-wheel drive arrangement, with a set of low ratios available if required with the latter option selected. For the Series IIA the diesel engine was enlarged to 2,286cc and a new 12-seater model introduced on the longer (109”) wheelbase chassis.
Finished in Marine blue with black vinyl seats (to the front and rear) this SWB Series IIA was purchased by the vendor in 2011. The early IIA model was selected specifically as it not only features the more attractive inboard headlights but also due to the incredibly modest to maintain 2.25 litre petrol engine and the enjoyable challenge of no synchro on 1st and 2nd gears making for a balanced classic motoring experience. Used only in dry months, it has always been garaged throughout the winter and use has extended to running household errands, trips to the pub and twice serving as a tender vehicle at the Goodwood Revival. Immediately after acquisition the hardtop was sold and a sand coloured soft tilt and stick set was purchased from Exmoor Trim along with new rubbers from Keith Gott. The original SU carburettor was substituted for a new Weber variant and in 2012 a new clutch was fitted along with a through service. Having only covered 2,000 miles in current ownership and without use at all in 2016 it is now offered for sale.
Offered with a fresh MOT, although the car is running very well the vendor advises us that, as with all old cars when in regular use, checking the cars levels are always to be advised.