Series I (1948-1958) buying guide

What to look for in your original series I Land Rover

The original Series I had inherent faults which were gradually sorted over the years, so later models are more user-friendly but, the quirks of earlier vehicles are nowadays seen more as character than inconvenience. The 80-inch (1948-53) has the highest values.

Series Is were built initially with an 80-inch wheelbase, and later with the 86-inch and 107-inch, and the 88-inch and 109-inch in station wagon, pick-up and hard top form.  All petrol engines are simple and reliable units. The rare 2.0-litre diesel was lethargic.

Until 1951 the front axle drive was controlled by a freewheel system that automatically engaged drive while the vehicle was moving forward under load, disengaging on overrun. Later vehicles used selectable front drive.

What to check

Detail originality is important, especially on 80-inch models, though minor period modifications add interest. Look for rust in the bulkhead under the windscreen, around the vents (no vents on 80-inch), down the A-posts and the footwells. The 80-inch bulkhead is strengthened by steel laminates and proper repair is difficult, and its aluminium steering box can crack. 

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

It’s worth joining and talking to the Land Series One Club ( before you buy to confirm originality of engine, transmission and pre-1957 rear (semi-floating) axle. Regular rust areas on the chassis are the rear crossmember and the front suspension dumb-irons. Check leaf springs for compacted rust and flattening.

Reasons to buy

The Series I is vintage machinery, and its relatively primitive engineering is robust. There’s a purity about off-roading a SI – old-school terrain skills reward the driver. Buy for the vintage experience and for a piece of motoring history that is mostly DIY approachable.


Don’t expect to keep up with the traffic, and be prepared for a bumpy and twitchy road ride – though this is part of the fun of driving. Weather resistance and warmth are fairly absent, though this doesn’t matter. Some parts are difficult to find and costly.


• 1948-1951: 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol, 55 bhp, 83 lb-ft torque. Four-speed manual, two-speed transfer box with permanent four-wheel drive (to 1950), later selectable.• 1951-1958: 2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, 52 bhp, 101 lb-ft.• 1956-1958: 2-litre four-cylinder diesel, 52 bhp, 87 lb-ft torque.

Price guide

Project: £2000 – £5000Average: £4000 – £6500Good: £6000 – £15,000Excellent: £15,000 – £50,000+



Jaguar Land Rover Project Vector - front

New JLR Project Vector showcases autonomous future

The new JLR Project Vector autonomous pod sits on a new platform and is scheduled for on-road trials before the end of 2021
18 Feb 2020
Land Rover Discovery 2017 - official incontrol touch pro
Land Rover

What is Land Rover InControl?

Here’s everything you need to know about Land Rover’s InControl infotainment system
11 Feb 2020
OPINION Sir Ralph Speth

'The JLR management merry-go-round is up and running'

With JLR CEO Sir Ralph Speth retiring, Steve Fowler looks at who in the automotive industry looks set to replace him
5 Feb 2020
Opinion - Jaguar E-Pace

“JLR desperately needs a range of smaller cars and SUVs”

Could Jaguar Land Rover become the latest brand to join the PSA empire? Mike Rutherford thinks it would be a good idea for both parties
26 Jan 2020

Most Popular

Bentley Continental GT

Bentley’s built a horse-themed Continental GT Convertible

The bespoke Continental GT Convertible Equestrian Edition features tweed door panels, a walnut dash and gold “horse and rider” emblems
9 Mar 2020
Speed limit to be cut to 60mph on M1
Tips & advice

Can I drive my car during the UK’s coronavirus lockdown?

The UK has been put on lockdown to help combat the spread of COVID-19, but does this mean you can’t drive your car anymore?
24 Mar 2020
BMW 4 Series

New 2020 BMW 4 Series spotted undergoing development

A near production-ready version of the latest BMW 4 Series Coupe has been spied, wearing a pair of huge kidney grilles.
19 Mar 2020