The Land Rover Series II was a 2-door and 4-door off-road vehicle available from 1958 to 1961. The Series IIA followed the Series II production and was available from 1961 to 1971. This article covers both.
Land Rover Series II Design and Introduction
After the successful introduction of the first Land Rover Series I, the Rover Company, which would later become Land Rover, made a series of changes to the popular model and released the improved Series II in 1958. The Rover Series I was the first iteration of a more practical and functional vehicle that brought 4x4s to the mass production line. It was focused on bringing the most utility possible, with a major emphasis on farming and agricultural assistance, including power take-offs to help use machinery in the field. The Series I grew over the years, and became a more family-friendly vehicle with enough space to hold up to ten people in the largest model. But the Rover Company wanted to take this popularity to the next level and they did so with the Series II. The Series II retained the 88-inch and 109-inch wheelbases from the previous generation, which were referred to as the SWB and LWB models (short wheelbase and long wheelbase). But what was unique about the Series II is that it received the efforts of Rover’s styling department which would bring an enhanced appearance to the utilitarian vehicle. David Bache served as the Chief Stylist to the Land Rover Series II. The waistline used a barrel side design, stretching from front to rear and covering the wheels and tracks entirely. He also introduced a rounded roof that is still seen on modern Land Rovers, along with curved side windows for enhanced visibility and function.
Engine and Performance
The Series II was powered by a 2.25L inline-4 gasoline engine that produced a much-improved 72 horsepower. Some of the first SWB models received the previous generation’s 2.0L 72-horsepower engine, but those were quickly discontinued in favor of the new 2.25L design. Some models stuck with a 2.0L inline-4 diesel as the power plant. The 109-incb model Series II bumped up seating capacity to an optional and very impressive twelve people, although a ten person layout remained standard. Part of the motivation behind getting to a twelve-person capacity was to avoid expensive Purchase and Special Vehicle Taxes because twelve-person vehicles were classified as busses. The popularity of this incredible seating arrangement continued for many decades and could even avoid the London Congestion Charge if properly registered.
The Series IIA Introduction
In 1961, the Rover Series IIA was introduced. It retained much of the exterior styling from the previous Series II model. It also brought over the 2.25L inline-4 gasoline engine, plus it introduced a 2.25L diesel option. A Series IIA FC (forward control) model was introduced in 1962. It had the cab positioned over the engine, allowing for increased cargo capacity in the rear. A heavy-duty rear aces with often equipped on such models. In 1967, the Series IIA became available with a 2.6L inline-6 gasoline engine on the long wheelbase models. And in 1969, the headlights moved to the wings of the front rather than the middle toward the grille as seen in previous models. While the Series I was an incredibly influential vehicle that paved the way forward for a mass production 4x4 with true functionality, many consider the Series IIA to be the best model from the era and the one that solidified Land Rover’s reputation.