1948 Land Rover Series 1 - 3

Summary

  • Year of manufacture 
    1948
  • Car type 
    Other
  • Chassis number 
    R860149
  • Engine number 
    R860149
  • Lot number 
    317
  • Drive 
    RHD
  • Condition 
    Used
  • Exterior brand colour 
    Light Green
  • Interior colour 
    Green
  • Interior brand colour 
    Green
  • Location
  • Exterior colour 
    Green
  • Gearbox 
    Manual

Description

In 1947, whilst holidaying at his North Wales farm, Rover's chief designer Maurice Wilks came up with a plan to produce a light agricultural utility vehicle in the style of the Willys Jeep. He would have no idea that his design would become an icon and launch a whole new industry sector. The original Land Rover was presented in Sage Green with a canvas roof and revolutionised rural transport. As an engineering marvel it can still outstrip its modern counterparts, and the Series I rightly belongs in the Motoring Hall of Fame. Hugely successful globally, dozens of improvements were made throughout the long production run.

The holy grail for any Land Rover enthusiast is an early Series I, and there are a number of visual clues for an early car. The lights must be behind the grille, no exterior door handles and a ‘side plate' engine. This very special Landy, chassis number 860149 ticks those boxes and more. Built on the 13th September 1948 and delivered new to Steels Garage Limited of Cheltenham on the 1st October 1948, Chassis #149 was collected and then registered on 6th October by the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, as confirmed in the ‘buff log book', supplied in the history file. We are very grateful to the Royal Agricultural College for delving into their archives and unearthing a period photograph of HDG 600 being used in 1950, and a copy of their accounts for the financial year 1949 confirm that they paid £509.46 for it.

As one would expect from a very early Series I the lights are indeed behind the grille, there are no exterior door handles and the engine is the correct ‘side plate', with the oil filler close to the bulkhead. Sympathetically restored and owned by our vendor, a Land Rover enthusiast who is downsizing his Land Rover collection, Chassis #149 is finished in the correct Sage Green and we are told is on the original chassis. The very rare side plate engine starts on the button, although we cannot categorically confirm or deny that it's the original engine as Land Rover records for this period are incomplete. The engine number (as stamped) is 860659 but does not tally with the V5, which shows the same chassis and engine number, a not uncommon occurrence with DVLA historic vehicles records. Frustratingly the original buff log book does not list the engine number, just the chassis number. A Land Rover Heritage Certificate has been applied for and should be ready in time for viewing, and we have also asked The Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester for their assistance in digging up any documents in their archives, including period photographs during their ownership of the car between 1948 and 1966.

This consignor is no stranger to the Series I Land Rover, Silverstone Auctions holds two of the Top Five World records for a standard Series I, and when we are offered a car like this it is hard not to get excited, especially with the final Land Rover, the Defender, going out of production just last month. It is notable that the last ever Land Rovers produced, part of the limited run of four hundred ‘Heritage' models, are finished in nearly identical colours. Wouldn't it great to have one of the first Land Rovers, in the same colours, parked alongside the last ever produced? We firmly believe that Chassis #149 is the most important Land Rover to be offered for auction in recent years.

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