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. 

It’s worth joining and talking to the Land Series One Club (lrsoc.com) 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.

Problems

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.

Specifications

• 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+

Recommended

'Bolloré's strategy is already having a good impact on Jaguar Land Rover'
Opinion JLR Thierry Bollore
Opinion

'Bolloré's strategy is already having a good impact on Jaguar Land Rover'

Steve Fowler says JLR CEO Thierry Bolloré's new approach is working wonders
24 Jun 2021
Jaguar Land Rover shuts two factories due to semiconductor shortage
Halewood factory
Jaguar

Jaguar Land Rover shuts two factories due to semiconductor shortage

JLR’s Castle Bromwich and Halewood factories will temporarily close from 26 April as a global shortage of semiconductors impacts production
22 Apr 2021
Land Rover extends partnership with Virgin Galactic to 2024
Land Rover Virgin Galactic
Land Rover

Land Rover extends partnership with Virgin Galactic to 2024

Land Rover will continue to support the world’s first “spaceline,” providing vehicles to ferry future astronauts to their flights
30 Mar 2021
Jaguar Land Rover reveals prototype Covid-inhibiting cabin filtration system
Jaguar Land Rover cabin filtration system
Jaguar

Jaguar Land Rover reveals prototype Covid-inhibiting cabin filtration system

In-car harmful bacteria and viruses reduced by 97 percent through Panasonic’s nanoe X technology
16 Mar 2021

Most Popular

New 2021 Kia EV6 boasts up to 328 miles of range
Kia EV6 - front
Kia EV6

New 2021 Kia EV6 boasts up to 328 miles of range

Kia reveals more specs for its bespoke electric car, with the EV6 offering long range and an 18-minute 80 per cent rapid recharge time
21 Jul 2021
New 2021 Audi RS 3: 395bhp mega hatch priced from £50,900
Audi RS 3 Sportback - front
Audi RS3

New 2021 Audi RS 3: 395bhp mega hatch priced from £50,900

Full exterior and interior reveal for Audi RS 3, with aggressive styling and racy cabin to match strong performance
19 Jul 2021
New 2022 Range Rover Sport spotted testing on the road
Range Rover Sport spyshot 1
Land Rover Range Rover Sport

New 2022 Range Rover Sport spotted testing on the road

Land Rover’s replacement for the Range Rover Sport will get racier styling and an all-new electric-ready platform
20 Jul 2021