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1960 Land Rover S2 SWB


・2 recorded owners
・Genuine Series 2 SWB model
・2.25 Diesel engine
・In complete condition 

The Background

The original Land Rover is one of the world's most recognisable cars. Now firmly established as a design icon, its legacy still runs deep in today's generation of off-roaders, yet the car represents the perfect example of a flawed gem. It’s not built for speed, comfort or refinement. The cabin is cramped and as for the driving position….not a positive start to any introduction. Yet, despite the flaws, millions of people have overlooked those issues and marvelled at its off-road abilities, resilient toughness and the celebrated world recognised brand that has literally helped connect the modern world.

Originality is often hard to find in older Land Rovers, as decades of repairs and overhauls are often carried out on the cheap, but that was always the car's appeal. Luckily this 1960 S2 SWB example, while not 100% original, has enough provenance to suggest it is worthy of a restoration. Listed as a 2 owner barn find, the car was on the road and in use as recently as 2014. While it has seen better days, it has a V5 and enough past history as well as evidence that it has seen some major work in the recent past. Subject to over £3,000 of parts and work since 2007, which also includes an engine and gearbox rebuild.

The History

The car comes with several pieces of documentation and paperwork to offer a few clues on its heritage, its last registered owner in 2014 being was based in the Plymouth area and kept it until last year. The chassis number is not on the vehicle, as its front dumb-iron mount has long been replaced but its DLVA V5 document confirms it is a 1960 Series 2 model. Obviously, there are lots of dots to be joined up but there is enough of a basic picture of the car's provenance in recent years with the V5 stating it has only seen 2 documented keepers. The current owner is a trader who took it on due to its potential and given the desirability of older Land Rover, today felt it was worth renovating. However, time is an issue and has decided to sell. The car still sports an ‘Exmoor Rut’ road tour placard from 2004, which offers a clue on how the car had been used and enjoyed prior to being laid up.

The Paperwork

Over the last two decades, a considerable amount of time and money had been spent on the car, with invoices and a printed inventory of its spending, which supports work carried out in 2017 on the gearbox and prior to that, work and replacement items included front callipers and brakes, as well as attention to the hubs, fuel tank, seatbelt and injectors. Thanks to its Heritage certificate, it can be proven to be a 1959 build car that was registered in 1960, and as a result a previous owner was able to re-register it with a valid dateless plate. Prior to this, it sported a suffix A plate registration which was commonly issued by the DLVA for cars that had lost their dateless plates. The car has also been subject to a partial restoration, which has been documented via a series of photos.

The Interior

The car is currently filled with piles of spare parts, most of which are not related to the Land Rover and the owner has stated that everything will be removed by the time the car is passed to its new home. A rough assessment of the interior suggests that the seats are complete and will not need much more than a quick wipe down. They are tear-free and still very usable. The rubber mats are decent, with the rubber floor covering looking like a relatively recent item. The facia is in satisfactory condition, with no broken dials or switches or controls, although their ability to function cannot be verified. 

The steering wheel and gearstick do show wear but are not excessive and are still usable. Other controls like the 4wd selector and handbrake are said to be operational. The door cards are good, with the rest of the interior in line with the exterior and likely to scrub up with some graft. The rear section is somewhat obscured by autojumbles, but it appears to have bench seats. 

The Exterior 

The aluminium body has evidence of oxidation but is complete and appears to be solid. The steel bulkhead looks to be comparative decent. A check under the bonnet, the front driver footwell and under the car reveals that the lower section of the bulkhead is reasonable and has to be seen as a positive factor. The ventilation flaps are stuck but do not appear to have let in water into the cabin. The chassis is known for its strength and will cope with lots of abuse and appears to be in fairly good order. The central outriggers look solid, although the rear items and rear cross member may need closer inspection as it has corrosion but it's not beyond salvation. The inner-wing sections are generally solid with the box sections under the front seats looking good from underneath.

There is a fair amount of checker plate on the wings, but the wings appear to be relatively decent from the underside, so may not actually be hiding rot. The body has obviously seen its fair share of knocks and repairs, but the body panel fit while not completely cohesive, is relatively straight and the panel gaps suggest that isn’t major body distortion. There were no hasty fibre-glass type repairs and a strip down could yield a surprising amount of decent metal. There are a series of indentations of the body, with every panel showing imperfects but not severe enough to render them unrepairable and should not need too much time to fill in the holes or knock out the dents. All doors, including the tailgate and bonnet open without too much resistance, the bonnet stay, passenger door handles and hinges are fully operational. 

The paint has clearly seen better days, finished in green, the car may well have started its life in blue, but a check with the Heritage Centre could uncover any mysteries to its originality. The car has a few bolt-on goodies, obviously, not all can be accounted for in terms of originality, but the fitting of additional spotlights, rear light cages, grille jacket as well as a solidly decent front bumper with towing eyes supports the spending as documented in the paperwork.

The hardtop roof is in a fairly tatty state but is complete and with some effort and elbow grease could easily be brought up to a decent standard. All windows are complete and seals look fit for their purpose, but do show signs of age. The car has no evidence of water in the cabin, which bodes well for the integrity of the structure. The glass is complete, with no evidence of cracks or chips, but obviously shows signs of light wear. 

The 16” steel wheels show an expected patina but are in decent straight condition underneath the surface rust. Like many of the cosmetic aspects of the car, a refurb would transform them. The Falken tyres look like they were all placed on the vehicle at the same time and all 4 are under 10 years old. As a result, there are no significant cracks and display a healthy amount of tread. The bonnet mounted spare wheel is beyond legal use but again the steel wheel is salvageable. 

The Mechanics 

Mechanically the engine is in robust visual condition, with evidence that it has been maintained with several components looking like recent additions. The car is said to turn over and has recent been running under its own power. The engine has seen a fair amount of work in the recent past, with the overall visual presentation of the diesel block looking a little weathered but free from significant wear. The diesel engine is likely to have come via a later Series 2a engine, as the 2.25 diesel option was not available for this model year. Going on clues from its last MOT in 2013, excessive smoke would have been a key reason for the cars refusal of an MOT and it's possible that the owner was working towards getting the engine up to scratch prior to it being laid up. Some components, such as the exhaust and the front leaf springs would need replacement. The battery had a weak source of power. The wiring loom is in decent order, with evidence of several recent engine components.

The Appeal

The key thing to remember is that by their nature, many Land Rover are easily repairable. The structure simply lends itself to DIY repair and if you fancy renovating without learning the art of MIG-Welding, then the parts availability is among the best in the classic car world. To the seasoned Land Rover enthusiast this complete and solid version with a healthy amount of paperwork suggesting some recent expenditure should not break a sweat. View it as the ultimate Meccano set, its S2 status and previous attention to work on its structure, gearbox and running gear will certainly make it an attractive project. As we opened up the description of this listing with slightly negative platitudes, they will never put off potential buyers partly due to the well established following it has attracted for decades. Along with the excellent parts availability, professional advice, well-proven fixes and hacks and the undeniable character of the go-anywhere and do-any-thing design, the car in whatever state will simply sell itself.

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1960
  • Make Land Rover
  • Model S2 SWB
  • Colour Green
  • Odometer 112,286 Miles
  • Engine size 2250
  • Location Hertfordshire
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
16 bids
  • vincent•••• £6,100 20/06/21
  • Jackwdb £6,000 20/06/21
  • Jackwdb £5,900 20/06/21
  • vincent•••• £5,800 20/06/21
  • Jackwdb £5,700 20/06/21
  • vincent•••• £5,600 20/06/21
  • Jackwdb £5,500 20/06/21
  • vincent•••• £5,100 19/06/21
  • Jackwdb £5,000 19/06/21
  • Kentos £3,000 19/06/21

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