﹒Classic Series I rebuilt on galvanised chassis ﹒New 3.5-litre V8 engine ﹒All mechanical parts renewed ﹒Comes with new tilt, poles and door tops (not in pictures)
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.
Before the war, Rover had produced luxury cars which were not in demand in the immediate post-war period and raw materials were strictly rationed to those companies building construction or industrial equipment, or products that could be widely exported to earn crucial foreign exchange for the country.
Also, Rover's original factory in Coventry had been bombed during the war, forcing the company to move into a huge "shadow factory" in Solihull near Birmingham, previously used to construct Bristol Hercules aircraft engines. This factory was now empty but starting car production there from scratch would not be financially viable. Plans for a small, economical car known as the M Type were drawn up, and a few prototypes made, but would be too expensive to produce.
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.
That was the Series I, the ‘original and best’, though in a modern context a Series I Land Rover isn’t the most practical or rapid of vehicles. And that’s what makes this one appeal so much. A genuine ground-up restoration, the original engine has been replaced by a rebuilt 3.5-litre Rover V8. It’s quick, it’s fun, but it still retains the rudimentary appeal of the original basic Land Rover.
VSL 225 was bought by the current owner as a restoration project last year, with a rotten chassis and a tired engine. However, it is a genuine Series I Land Rover that has been used, abused and worked hard all its life.
The vendor specialises in building Land Rovers from scratch, which is part of his personal history as much as his business, having worked on them since his early life. He’s a die-hard Land Rover nut and builds three or four ground-up projects a year before moving onto the next.
His vision with this one was to build a Series I that would be able to hold its own in modern traffic, with decent performance while at the same time enjoying the classic Series I look. The project took eight months to complete and is now ready for a new owner, with virtually every part renewed.
The owner has a digital file documenting the Land Rover’s rebuild, which show it as found (a mouldering green wreck) and documents its complete strip down and rebuild, with stacks of paperwork documenting the many parts bought in order to complete the job.
These include a brand new bulkhead and chassis, as well as a newly reconditioned 3,528cc Rover V8 engine as fitted to the P5B and early Range Rovers.
It comes with a full UK V5 and some papers relating to its early history, including a few old logbooks and photographs.
The cab of any Series I Land Rover is, of course, utilitarian, but what there is here is in good condition. The dash has been stripped and repainted, with all the original dials and manufacturer plate refitted. It has new electric wiper motors and the three individual green seats have been re-trimmed in green leatherette.
The rear deck is freshly repainted and undamaged.
The Land Rover has been fully refurbished, with every panel repaired or replaced and a final top coat in Land Rover cream, which was a contemporary colour but one more commonly seen in warmer climates such as Africa and the Caribbean rather than in the UK.
It is in exceptional order, as you’d expect, with a superb paint finish all-over and all plastic and rubber components renewed. The orange and black Land Rover badges, incidentally, are the vendor’s own individual trademark feature.
The vendor has also fitted LED lighting front and rear. He is happy to supply the truck with standard lights if the owner desires, but these have been fitted to make it more usable in modern traffic.
A canvas tilt, poles and door frames are included in the sale but were not present at the time of the photos being taken. These are all brand new items.
Under the bonnet, the newly rebuilt 3.5 V8 looks fantastic and sounds equally impressive, with a satisfying burble amplified by a bespoke exhaust system, which was built for the truck by the vendor.
As well as the engine, which is still under warranty, the gearbox and all steering and suspension gear are new right down to the tyres, bushes and swivel joints. The rear diff casing is reconditioned, while new hubs, dampers and leaf springs complete the package. It’s as close as you’ll get to a brand new Series I, but with a beefier engine that really suits it.
Admittedly, this isn’t one for purists. It’s not a Standard Series I nor will it ever be.
But what it is, by contrast, is essentially a ‘new’ Series I bespoke build, designed to have bags of character (which it has) and much better performance than a standard four-cylinder Series I, thus making it much more usable in modern traffic conditions.
It is also, of course, tax and MoT exempt making it the perfect weekend plaything, while its age makes it an ideal opportunity for export, something that the vendor is more than happy to assist with.
It’s an absolute barrel of fun, a distinctive looking classic Land Rover and it comes with the reassurance of having been fully recommissioned. Buy it for fun, and with complete peace of mind.
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