・A motoring icon ・Restored to a high standard ・Usable and practical example ・Superb paintwork and trim
No doubt inspired by Willy's Jeep, Rover Car Company’s chief designer Maurice Wilks addressed the company’s post WWII problems (no demand for luxury cars, and scarce raw materials) by coming up with the concept of a light agricultural and utility vehicle; the Land Rover was conceived in 1947. Launched at the Amsterdam Motor Show in 1948, the first production models (later known as the Series I) were made the same year. The success of the vehicle, originally intended as a stop-gap, took Rover by surprise.
By 1958 the model had evolved and for the first time Rover’s styling department was involved; the result was the Series II, which stayed in production until 1961 when the (visually similar) Series IIA came along.
Built in September 1958, this is a very early Series II and has the earlier 2062cc diesel engine, which was later superseded by the 2250cc diesel. First registered in October 1958, AFE 666 A has had a modest number of owners during its long life. In 2013 the then-owner took the car to a restoration company in West Yorkshire where, the vendor understands, it was subject to a comprehensive ground-up, bare-metal restoration, at considerable expense. The car’s overall condition would seem to support this.
It was then stored as part of a collection, and little-used, until the owner felt that he could no longer keep the car and gifted it to the restorers in 2019. The vendor purchased the car in 2020, from the restoration company, but he owns another Series II and feels the time has come to concentrate his time and energy on the other vehicle.
The vendor believes the 81,261 odometer reading to be genuine, but we have no means of verifying this.
AFE 666 A comes with a folder of paperwork that includes a British Motor Industry Heritage Trust certificate verifying that the car’s chassis number corresponds to the original factory records. There are also a number of receipts dating back through the car’s recent history, including bills recording work at a Land Rover specialist in Huddersfield. There are a number of previous MoT certificates.
The car’s exterior appearance backs up the vendor’s belief that AFE 666 A was subject to a major restoration. The paintwork throughout is in excellent condition, with only one or two minor scratches, and there is no evidence of corrosion at all. Keen Land Rover enthusiasts will notice, in the pictures, that the original door hinges have been replaced with those from a Land Rover Defender – this was to allow for the fitting of Defender door mirrors, which makes it a more practicable and safer vehicle on the road.
As part of the restoration work, the original zinc ‘capping’ was painted over.
All four wheels seem to be in excellent condition and three of the tyres are in very good condition, while the nearside front tyre appears to be rather old and shows signs of cracking on the sidewalls. After we pointed this out to the vendor, he has booked the car in for this tyre to be replaced.
At the time of our photo shoot, the car was missing the rear offside indicator lens, but the owner has this and will refit it before sale.
Of note is the car’s distinctive registration number, something the owner says attracts interest, and he has turned down offers to buy the number as he feels this is a key part of the car’s history.
The Series II’s rather spartan interior has been authentically restored and looks remarkably original, although indicators (not originally fitted to the model) have been added at some point, with a period switch beside the steering wheel. All the dials are in excellent condition, and the (limited!) switchgear all seems to function as it should. The seats are in excellent condition, with no more than minor marks and no tears. The rubber boot on the handbrake lever is broken – see pictures.
The car has an original round heater fitted in the passenger footwell.
The rear compartment would appear to have been little used since restoration, with the painted floors and seats showing few signs of wear. In the offside corner of the rear compartment, the wires to the lights are exposed while on the nearside there is a cover that protects these. Curiously, there’s no sign that a cover was ever fitted on the offside but this is something a new owner may wish to address.
AFE 666 A starts when asked, although as the car has been in storage the battery sounds as though it might benefit from a recharge. The diesel engine sounds healthy, but a shortage of fuel locally at the time of our visit meant that we were not able to experience a proper test drive.
Under the bonnet, all appears to be clean and tidy. As part of the restoration work, the car was fitted with a four-branch stainless-steel sports exhaust – unusual on a Land Rover!
The underside of the car shows very few signs of rust and everything appears to be in very good order. The only exception is that the rear offside wheel appears to have a fluid leak from the brake drum; since we pointed this out, the vendor has booked the car in to have this rectified.
The Land Rover remains a British motoring icon, and with good parts availability plus strong specialist and club support, the early ‘series’ cars – seen by many as ‘proper’ Land Rovers – are particularly sought-after by enthusiasts. The Series II’s age, combined with the hard lives the cars have often led, makes finding sound, reliable examples that don’t require major expenditure, a real challenge. AFE 666 A has clearly been subject to major restoration and, while it’s not 100% original and authentic, the changes that have been made to the car’s original spec have been done for sound practical reasons that make it a more usable vehicle in the modern motoring environment. With the vendor intending to address the few apparent minor issues before sale, AFE 666 A would seem to be a sensible proposition for any Land Rover enthusiast.
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1958 Land Rover Series II
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