Complete Land Rover Series I lineup, specs, economy, dimensions

1948 Land Rover Series I - Technical Specs, Fuel economy, Dimensions1948 - 1956 Land Rover Series I Off-road vehicleSeries I3 Trims 50 to 52 Hp

The Land Rover Series I was a 2-door and 4-door off-road vehicle available from 1948 to 1958. It was the first vehicle produced by the Rover Company, which would later become Land Rover.

Land Rover Series I Influence and Design

It’s hard to overstate the importance of the Land Rover Series I in automotive history. While it might be easy to say that it was nothing more than an extension of the post World War II Jeep, that is far from the truth. The Land Rover Series I was the first mass-produced civilian four-wheel drive vehicle. It made no compromise in its efforts to provide incredibly capable off-road performance, while also giving a wide array of other practical features. It was a new generation in utility-focused vehicles. In an effort to create a vehicle that would serve as a functioning workhorse on a family farm but also provide a way to run errands and haul cargo, the chief designer at Rover Company, Mauric Wilks, took to the drawing board. The Jeeps that had been widely used in war began transitioning to farm life, but they left a lot to be desired. Wilks took that idea and added crucial components and features to show that the Land Rover Series I was a revolutionary take on the 4x4 world. One that would be around for many decades to come.

Distinct Features of the Series I

One of the most distinctive features of the Land Rover Series I were the power take-offs (PTOs) incorporated into the design. At a time when it was a true challenge to find reliable portable power to run various farm machinery and weather equipment, the Series I stepped in to provide an excellent source of mobile power. The chassis used a box-welded construction style, unique at that time, which provide additional structural strength and rigidity. And due to the shortage of steel in the post WWII era, aluminum was used for the body panels, allowing for excellent rust prevention which would prove to be useful as some of these vehicles stayed working for many decades.

Engine and Body Styles 

The Land Rover Series I was powered by a 1.6L gasoline engine with about 51 PS, paired to a four-speed transmission and a two-speed transfer case. While two-wheel drive Series I vehicles were produced, many featured a four-wheel drive system that was engaged with a freewheel unit. That four-wheel drive system changed to a more conventional dog clutch design in 1950. In 1949, an additional body option was released, known as the Station Wagon. It used a body constructed by coachbuilder Tickford that was made of a wooden frame and included seating for seven people. It increased the interior appointments and comforts greatly, while still retaining the overall functionality of the Series I.

Updates in Later Years

The engine displacement increased to 2.0L in 1952, and then in 1954 several changes were brought to the Land Rover Series I. These included a longer wheelbase model that stretched to 86 inches long as compared to b in the original, plus an even longer 107-inch wheelbase pickup version providing increased cargo capacity. In 1955, the first five-door model was introduced, built on the extended 107-inch wheelbase with seating for up to ten people. These newer designs dropped the wooden frame from Tickford and used basic metal panels that were bolted together. The wheelbases were extended by two inches in 1956, with 109 inches being the longest offering. And in 1957, shorty before the end of the production run of the Land Rover Series I, a new 2.0L diesel engine was introduced with a more modern overhead valve design, producing 52 horsepower. The Land Rover Series I might seem quite tame in comparison to today’s SUV market, but it was a critical step from the war-focused Jeeps to a practical yet functional 4x4 that could be marketed to a wider audience. The automotive world took some time to catch on to the importance of this design, but its lasting impression is beloved by many.