the end of the Second World War,
Spencer Wilks was managing director of the Rover car company
and his brother Maurice Wilks was chief designer. The Rover
company had been making aircraft parts but now steel was scarce.
An alternative revenue source was needed for the Rover company
to stay in business.
Spencer Wilks ran an old Willys Jeep on his farm. It was forever
breaking down and there was no alternative useful vehicle.
Spencer and Maurice hit on the idea of designing a replacement
vehicle for farmers, utilising the readily available aluminium
and minimising the use of scarce steel.
The Rover company produced their first prototype
vehicle for the land - called the 'Land Rover' within only
6 months of the Land Rover concept being born. The first Series
1 Land Rover was shown to the public at the Amsterdam Motor
Show in April 1948.
During the development stage, jeeps were trialled, their weeknesses
found and these were taken into account at the design stage.
No Jeep parts were used in the early Series 1's, parts were
either specially designed, or existing Rover car parts were
used. The engine used
in the Land Rover was the Rover 1.6 litre car engine.
The first prototype Series 1 Land Rovers had power take-offs
and could be harnessed to a variety of machinery to help the
farmer on the land.
The first Series 1 Land Rovers went on sale for 450 pounds
sterling, with passenger seat cushions, doors, heater, sidescreens,
spare tyre and starting handle as optional extras.
By October 1948 a hard-top version of the 80in Series 1 Land
Rover was being produced with seating for 7 passengers. These
were relatively expensive due to UK purchase tax and most
Early Series Land Rovers were continuously being pushed to
their limits by owners wanting ever more work out of them.
So in 1952 a larger engine was introduced; the 2 litre. Throughout
the Series 1's development the emphasis was always upon how
the work capabilities of the vehicle could be improved. There
was never really any real commitment to improving driver or
It was repeated customer demands for more load space that
prompted the development of the 86in and then, in 1953, the
107in chassis. Then there came a strong demand for a diesel
engined Land Rover and so one was developed, but it was found
that it couldn't fit into the existing 86in and 107in chassis
designs. So an extra 2in was added. This was puzzling to some
customers at first because the, now familiar, 88in and 109in
chassis design were released before the diesel engine was
used in them.
To see previous homepages visit the Series
Land Rover Archives