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A Brief History of the Series II & IIa Land Rovers

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Series II
The Series 2 Land Rover was launched in 1958, but many of it's parts were common to it's predecessor; the Series 1. The petrol engine option however, was a new 2286cc version with increased power. The diesel option was the 2052cc engine used previously in the Series 1; Land Rover had introduced it in 1957. But then when more power was demanded from the diesel models, the 2052cc engine block was simply replaced with the 2286cc petrol block and kitted out for diesel operation.
Land Rover produced the Series 2 from 1958 to 1961 and in those 4 years close to 200,000 vehicles were made.
Series IIA
It was partly the major upgrade in diesel engine specification that prompted Land Rover to add the suffix A to the model code in September 1961.And in order to promote sales of the Series IIA, a Land Rover was fitted with wheels which could run on a railway track; this particular Series IIA was then used to pull an impressive line of freight rolling stock totalling about 50 tons.
There were other changes of course between the Series II and IIA but they were relatively minor e.g. spot welded aluminium vent hinges were used instead of galvanised steel, and the vents were controlled by a ratchet instead of a screw. Also, panel lights were now plastic instead of painted brass. Later on, other changes happened, like the headlights became flush fitting, not bulging, and the front apron rounded instead of flat.
Early Series IIA 88in Land Rovers sold for less than 700 pounds sterling. The 10 seat station wagons sold for less than 1,300 pounds and the 12 seat station wagon for less than 1,100 pounds; because it was classed as a minibus for taxation purposes.
The military worldwide, were impressed with Land Rover's new Series IIA, and ordered standard models, strengthened military versions and special project vehicles such as ambulances, fire engines and 24 volt radio equipped Land Rovers. Many vehicles were also shipped abroad in kit form, to be assembled on arrival. These were known as CKD versions (Completely Knocked Down).
The Series IIA was also built by Santana in Spain, under licence from Land Rover, and sold under the Santana brand name. As time went on, more and more local parts were incorporated and the Land Rovers took on their own characteristic Santana appearance. This infact lead to a few disputes with the Rover company over authenticity.
Another engine option was offered in 1967 but only for the 109in models. It was the 2.6litre petrol engine.
The Series IIA continued to evolve with a plastic steering wheel, ignition key starting for the petrol models, black vinyl upholstery instead of grey and, before the Series 3 was introduced, the headlights were moved into the wings.
It was the Series IIA era that saw the bulk of special projects Land Rovers being produced such as the fully tracked Cuthbertson conversion, the partially tracked Centaur and also the Shortland armoured Land Rovers.
It was in the Series IIA era that Land Rover also introduced the Forward Control, Lightweight and One Ton models.
In total Land Rover produced almost 350,000 Series IIA vehicles in the 10 years of the model's life from 1961-71.

Series 2a Land Rover


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