The 1948-1985 Land-Rover Series I, II, III was a British reply to the American Army's go-anywhere four-wheel-drive vehicle that proved so valuable in World War II.

Introduced in the early postwar period, it was very different in appearance, with fully enclosed front wheels and severe, angular body lines. Early models had inboard headlamps mounted behind a mesh-screen grille guard. Later models had exposed lamps that ultimately were moved into the front fenders.

The
1948-1985 Land-Rover Series I, II, III was offered in a bewildering choice of models -- short and long wheelbases, gasoline and diesel engines, and various body styles, including pickup truck, van, station wagon, and special-purpose coachwork.

Like most 4x4s, the Land-Rover affords two- or four-wheel drive with high and low ranges, and has front and rear differential locking for the ultimate in traction on low-friction surfaces and difficult terrain. Bodies are made of light alloy to keep weight down. The passenger compartment is spartan but very functional.

Never intended to double as a passenger car (the more stylish and luxurious Range Rover introduced in 1970 fills that role), the Land-Rover is built and sold strictly for hard work in conditions that would stop other vehicles cold.

It's still in production today (available with a detuned version of the ex-Buick 3.5-liter aluminum V-8), and remains a mainstay of the British Army, fire departments, and seekers of high adventure from tropical jungles to frozen tundra. It wasn't imported to the U.S. in any significant volume, though it's not too difficult to find.

Pluses of the 1948-1985 Land-Rover Series I, II, III:

  • Rugged durability
  • Supreme all-terrain capability
  • Rust-free body
  • Wide choice of sizes, types, specifications
  • Still in production, though more civilized now

Minuses of the 1948-1985 Land-Rover Series I, II, III:

  • Hard springing, mountain-goat ride
  • Spartan
  • Not very fast (about 60 mph)
  • Early body and mechanical parts questionable now

Production of the 1948-1985 Land-Rover Series I, II, III:
761,000 (Series I, II, IIA)

Specifications of the 1948-1985 Land-Rover Series I, II, III:
Wheelbase, inches:
80/86/107/109
Length, inches:
132.0-175.0 (depending on body)
Weight, pounds:
2,500-3,600 (depending on specifications)
Price, new:
NA

Engines for the 1948-1985 Land-Rover Series I, II, III:

Type Size Horsepower Years
F I-4 1,596 cc (97 cid)
50* 1948-1951
F I-41,997 cc (122 cid)
52* 1952-1958
ohv I-42,286 cc (140 cid)
77* 1958-1985
F I-62,625 cc (160 cid)85* 1967-1985
ohv I-4**2,052 cc (125 cid)55* 1958-1961
ohv I-4**2,286 cc (140 cid)62* 1958-1985
ohv V-83,528 cc (215 cid)100*** 1980-1985

*Net; **Diesel; ***Est.


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