1952 Land Rover 'Series I' 80" 4x4 Registration no. to be advised Chassis no. 36100013 Engine no. 36100059
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. Ruggedly built and simple in construction, the Land Rover proved capable of surviving in countries where conditions were primitive to say the least, a virtue that helped contribute to its worldwide acceptance. Indeed, it is estimated that two-thirds of all Land Rovers ever produced are still in existence today. Progressively developed since its launch in 1948 and modified to serve countless specialist requirements, the ubiquitous Land Rover will surely be much missed when production of the traditional Defender model ends early in 2016.
This Series I on the 80" wheelbase chassis has the 1,997cc petrol engine introduced in 1952 and was supplied by Henly's of London, first owner unknown. In 1962 the vehicle was sold to a farmer in Bruree, County Limerick by Cyril Groomsbridge (the dealer sticker has been scanned and copied). Thenceforth the Land Rover had an Irish registration number, 'BTI 649', and was used on the farm until being laid up in the 1980s. The vendor is trying to find out the original UK number from the Council in Dooradoyle, Limerick.
The vendor bought the 'Landie' in November 2014 and has carried out a painstaking 'ground upwards' restoration. All nuts and bolts have been sourced through Frank Mell and the Land Rover Owners' Club, and have the correct and original sheradised finish. The engine is the original, matching numbers, 'spread bore' unit and has been rebuilt by Terence Bradley with parts all sourced through Cox and Turner, while all alloy parts have been vapour blasted, giving them a better-than-new finish, as can be seen in the photographs.
The original, matching numbers gearbox was overhauled by the longest-serving engineer for Lookers/Charles Hurst Land Rover, Billy Lee, who completely rebuilt it with a new layshaft and all new bearings, leaving the 'box as new. Autosparks supplied the correct cotton-weave wiring loom, while the original dynamo and starter motor have refurbished. The vendor has also been able to source new-old-stock trafficators.
The bulkhead is the Achilles Heel of these early Land Rovers and this example's has been completely renovated by marque specialist Dale Radford of Aberdeen. The chassis is original and has been blasted, repaired, galvanised and repainted, ensuring that it will last for years to come. Amazingly all original, the body has been carefully restored and repainted in the original deep bronze green, while all galvanised parts have been stripped of the old galvanising and refinished. The axles and brakes have all new bearings and wheel cylinders. Marque specialist Tom Pickford supplied a new interior and hood. The restoration was completed in November 2015 and the vehicle comes with the associated bills and a V5C registration document.
Restored with admirable attention to detail, this is as good a Series I Land Rover as you are likely to find. Having covered fewer than 20 miles since completion, this stunning 'Landie' must be among the very best currently available.