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 Series I Land Rover was available in no fewer than five different wheelbase lengths ranging from 80" to 109". The original 1.6-litre petrol engine was soon superseded by a 2.0-litre unit (for 1952) and the company set about developing its own diesel, which was first offered in 1956. 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. In the course of more than 60 years in production the supremely versatile Land Rover would prove itself adaptable to innumerable civilian and military roles. Its replacement is keenly anticipated.
This petrol-engined Series I on the 88" wheelbase chassis was built in December 1956 and despatched to Halesowen Engineering Company Ltd, Halesowen in March 1957. It was supplied to the Home Office Civil Defence department as part of the last 'SXF' batch ordered and was sold off a few years later as the Civil Defence programme was being wound down. The vehicle was professionally restored in 2014 while in the hands of the previous owner, Richard Lawton of Kirriemuir, Dundee and was sold to the current vendor in July 2015. Presented in beautiful condition, the vehicle is offered with restoration invoices, a BMIT Certificate, copy old V5 and current V5C registration documents.