1955 Land Rover Series 1 86”

Highlights


• Restored Series 1 in rarely seen Tropical Yellow
• Engine fully rebuilt costing over £5,000
• Chassis rebuilt, galvanised & painted
• Windscreen & all capping's galvanised 
• Comes with full canvas tilt and poles
• Fascinating history


THE BACKGROUND


After the end of World War Two, the Rover Company was chasing export sales as much as its rivals, as well as looking at areas in which it could develop its domestic sales success.

Maurice Wilks, Rover's chief designer came up with a plan to produce a light agricultural and utility vehicle, of a similar concept to the Willys Jeep used in the war, but with an emphasis on agricultural use. It would also be made of a new alloy composite developed by Rover and called ‘Birmabright’, which was an effective way of getting around the steel rationing that was in place straight after the war.

The original Land Rover made its debut at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show and was an instant hit, attracting orders from across the globe. It’s simple utilitarian appeal and Meccano-like construction appealing to commercial customers from farmers to military.

This example is an ex-military vehicle, which the owner has completely rebuilt and has transformed into something altogether more colourful, based on the tropical colour schemes he remembers from his youth in Kenya. He grew up working on Land Rovers and has never stopped – he rebuilds several per year, each to an individual vision. 

THE HISTORY


The Land Rover began its life as a Column Commander’s vehicle for the British Army, whose job it was to lay communications cables across strategic territories.

It was registered in 1955 to the Halesowen Engineering Company, which converted vehicles for military contracts.

It then passed through a succession of owners before being acquired by the vendor in 2018. He completely stripped and rebuilt the vehicle and although the focus was on it being structurally and mechanically perfect, he's been careful to preserve some of its patina as that – in his opinion - is a core part of its appeal. We agree.

THE PAPERWORK


There are a few bills and receipts supplied with the Land Rover including a selection from a well-known Series One specialist documenting many of the model specific parts that were required for its restoration.

In addition, there's a British Motor Heritage certificate confirming that the Land Rover was made in February 1955 and dispatched from the factory the following month. Also included are a selection of photographs of the Land Rover ‘as found’ and also during its restoration.

The vendor has very recently applied to the DVLA for the Series One to be re-registered onto its original number plate, which can be seen in the photographs. This should be concluded by the time the auction ends and the truck will be supplied with the UK V5.

THE EXTERIOR 


If one thing’s for certain, it's that you won't miss this vehicle coming. The bright Tropical Yellow paint was chosen by the vendor, who grew up in Kenya and wanted to create a vehicle that was reminiscent of the colourful Land Rovers that were seen all over the African continent in the 1960s and 1970s. Many of those had a background similar to this example and had found their way out to the tropics as military vehicles in the first place.

The vendor has rebuilt the truck from the ground up, stripping, blasting and repairing the chassis which is now in perfect condition. The chassis has been painted in gloss black and is completely free of rust, as is the front bulkhead.

The original body panels have been retained where possible so there are a few small imperfections on each, but this is primarily to add to the vehicle’s patina and prevent it from having an over-restored appearance. The paint is good all round, the bumpers and trim are in excellent order and the wheels have been refurbished and fitted with new tyres.

It’s as basic as a Land Rover can possibly get - even the doors are fully removable if you want to keep it simpler. However, if you do require a bit of weather protection then it will also be supplied with a full set of polls and a brand new canvas tilt.

THE INTERIOR 


There really isn't much inside a Land Rover Series One, but what there is in this example is in very good order.

The front three seats have all been newly re trimmed in tan-coloured vinyl and look great, while otherwise it's just a painted dash and a few dials.

At the time we took the photographs, the vendor was still waiting for the truck’s refurbished steering wheel boss and horn push to be returned to him, so they are absent from the photographs but will be fitted to the Land Rover before it is handed over to its new owner.

THE MECHANICS 


Under the bonnet, you'll find the earlier two 2.0-litre valve-in-head engine that powered all Land Rovers up to 1956.

The engine is essentially the same as that in the Rover P4 saloon and is a reliable if somewhat slow and steady operator.

An engine rebuild was a significant part of this Land Rover’s restoration and the vendor has had it completely stripped and overhauled by a respected specialist. It starts and runs brilliantly.

Also carried out as part of the Land Rover’s rebuild were a thorough suspension and steering overhaul, so the truck has seen new springs, hubs, swivel joints and a complete brake refurbishment. 

The vendor reports that it is tremendous fun to drive, raises lots of smiles and turns many heads.

THE APPEAL


There is something impossibly cheerful about this bright yellow Land Rover and the vendor’s assertion that it makes people smile when it comes along is very easy to believe.

It has been restored in such a way that the new owner will know that beneath the body it is essentially a new vehicle, but the upper body work his deliberately not been over-restored and the overall effect is wonderfully charming.

It's also highly evocative of exactly how thousands of Land Rovers looked across the world 40 to 50 years ago. It's not original, but it has a historical significance of its own.

Oh, and you'll definitely never lose it in a car park.

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1955
  • Make Land Rover
  • Model Series 1
  • Colour Yellow
  • Odometer 63,778 Miles
  • Engine size 2000
  • Location Hertfordshire
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
22 bids
  • griffit•••• £20,500 07/12/21
  • andrew-•••• £20,000 07/12/21
  • griffit•••• £19,000 07/12/21
  • tedslan•••• £18,500 07/12/21
  • griffit•••• £18,000 07/12/21
  • andrew-•••• £17,000 07/12/21
  • tedslan•••• £16,000 07/12/21
  • roy.lyn•••• £15,500 07/12/21
  • smithcl•••• £15,000 05/12/21
  • graham.•••• £13,500 05/12/21

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