1949 LAND ROVER Series 1

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1949 LAND ROVER Series 1


Designed by Maurice Wilks as a stopgap vehicle following World War II, in an attempt to ease their reliance on pre-war designs, the Series 1 would go on to be a true cult classic and an icon of motoring design.

Use was made of the post-war aluminium surplus for the bodyshell and using steel box sections for the chassis, the Land Rover was born out of a desire for a go anywhere, do anything sort of vehicle, but one that would be rugged, dependable, and cheap enough to be affordable for the working man.

Creature comforts were few and far between, but a capable four-wheel drive setup meant that the Land Rover could tackle just about any obstacle you threw at it, easily outperforming the competition.

The Series 1 is so important as almost all modern four-wheel drive cars (and there’s a lot of them) can trace their lineage back to either Land Rover or American rival, the Jeep.

The British Army took to the Land Rover straight away as did aid agencies. However, the landed gentry couldn’t believe their luck as now there was a working vehicle capable for exploring the estate or for general farm duties.

Like most vehicles, revisions were made along the way, with selectable four-wheel drive being added in 1950. The original 1.6-litre engine was upgraded to a 2.0-litre unit in 1952. The chassis too was modified, being extended several times between 1953 and 1956.

Early cars are few and far between and are now eminently collectable, especially if they are in excellent condition.

The Vehicle

Our seller bought this beautiful 1949 Series 1 some seven years ago from John Brown 4x4 in Yorkshire. They primarily sell classic Land Rovers and 4x4s and are one of the undoubted experts in their field.

Being a 1949 model, it has the ring pull gearbox and flat hood sticks to the roof. The original engine, as with most of this age we are told, has been replaced with a similar 2.1-litre ‘Speedbore’ unit. They look in period but are said to give a much nicer drive, due to their superior build quality and extra power.

Before offering the Land Rover for sale, John Brown 4x4 spent two months ironing out any little faults and dealing with any cosmetic issues. There were mechanical improvements too.

Our seller is only the vehicle’s fifth keeper, following on from a retired Sherriff of London. This is quite some feat considering 73 years have passed since it rolled down the production line. He was set to be another long-term owner and has enjoyed it immensely. However, a dodgy knee has meant that he is no longer able to drive it and reluctantly offers it for sale.

On the Outside

Deep Bronze Green is one of the traditional Land Rover colours from the period and suits this country 4x4 rather well.

John Brown attended to any cosmetic issues before offering it for sale and walking round the vehicle it is hard not to be impressed. It is easy to see that a lot of money, time and effort has been spent over the years restoring the Series 1 to its former glory. The condition now, with better quality paints, possibly better than new.

It is hard not to be charmed by the appearance and it has attracted more attention in our warehouse than more expensive exotica. That is the appeal of an old Land Rover. Everyone loves it!

You will find the odd mark here and there, though our seller has used the 4x4 carefully, keen to keep it in tiptop condition. Most noticeable are some scratches on the offside front wing, adjacent to the bonnet. Incidentally, the wings are fibreglass but replacements in aluminium are available.

Wheels have been refurbished and painted correctly to match the body colour and all are fitted with an almost new Avon tyre. We always like to see good quality matching tyres on any classic vehicle we sell. It shows attention to detail.

The cream soft top is in excellent condition and can be removed for that wind-in-the-hair feeling. It is a little fiddly to do. The rear panel rolls up and we suspect it has been generally kept like this as when it is unfurled it is somewhat creased. A quick steam should improve the look.

And we couldn’t finish our description of the exterior without mentioning the lights behind the grille, which confirms this Land Rover was one of the very first off the production line. Desirable? You bet!

On the Inside

Seating for three up front on recovered green seats. Cosy would best describe it if all three are occupied. The rear load space is empty but additional seats can be fitted if moving lots of people about is the plan.

We’d keep it simple and chuck a picnic hamper and rug in the back and head off down a quiet green lane for some much-needed rest and relaxation.

It is easy to see that a great deal of care has been taken to restore the interior to as near original as possible. We are no experts, but it all looks period correct to us.

We love the simplicity of the dash, with all gauges and switches placed on a central binnacle, perfect for either left or right-hand drive applications.

The large steering wheel dominates and falling easily to hand is the spindly gear lever. The driving experience is decidedly old-school but harks back to a simpler time. We love it.

We have noticed that the plastic in the side windows is somewhat scratched, so this might be something the new owner may wish to improve.


We always include plenty of photographs of a vehicle’s underside and that is of course the case here. Usually there is not a great deal to see. However, in the case of the Series 1 that is definitely not the case. Suspension, drive train etc are all easy to see and we are impressed with the condition. A little surface dirt, easy to remove, is confirmation of the 4x4’s easy life these last few years.

There is a little surface rust in places, easy enough to treat one Sunday morning with the vehicle up on axle stands.

The engine compartment looks fine, and we can see nothing of any concern. The engine fires up easily and pulls well out on the road. It sounds rather lovely too.

History Highlights

To quote from John Brown 4x4s advert:

“We are not going to go on about the amount of time and effort that has gone into making this one of the nicest early Series 1s for sale currently, as we feel that the photos speak volumes, and the prospective buyer will understand the desirability and value of this rare truck”.

All the above still holds true today, a testament to the care and attention our seller has taken of it during his ownership.

Our seller carried out some engine work a few year back. Work done included:

  • Remove and clean cylinder head
  • Remove inlet valves and reseat
  • Remove and replace exhaust valves and reseat
  • Replace head gasket and refit cylinder head
  • Adjust valve clearances

All this cost the princely sum of £1,841.28.

Another large invoice lurks amongst the paperwork for replacement of the clutch and a light skim of the flywheel. Cost £1,981.26.

We should also mention that John Brown overhauled the brakes and fitted a new wiring look amongst other things.

There are some old MoT certificates with the vehicle and a quick trawl of the DVLA website confirms that testing has been carried out on occasions, even though the Land Rover is now exempt by age. The last was in August 2017, the mileage then 34,514. The odometer now reads 35,126.

Going back another decade or so, the recorded mileage in 2006 was 33,536. So, a gentle life has been led.

What We Think

It is hard not to fall for the charms of this delightfully early Land Rover. Such an important car in the company’s history and whilst the latest offerings are luxurious and eminently capable and desirable, something has been lost along the way.

Simplicity, character, and ease of maintenance are the order of the day here and with summer on the way, we can think of nothing nicer that taking the roof off and exploring the highways and byways of rural England. It could be you.

We know this rare Land Rover will attract a huge amount of interest and we suggest coming to see her in the flesh. Find another in such lovely condition, we challenge you.

All this Landy loveliness does come at a price. Between £25,000 and £30,000 we estimate.

Viewing is always encouraged, within government guidelines of course. The car is located at our Abingdon headquarters; we are open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm and to arrange an appointment please use the ‘Contact Seller’ button at the top of the listing to make an appointment. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’

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If needed, Footman James classic car insurance and Classic Concierge offer storage can offer you options, plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping both domestic and international.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we always encourage bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at those vehicles which are delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using basic cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen (Caveat Emptor) and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, a return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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  • Location: The Market HQ, Abingdon, United Kingdom
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: 35000
  • Chassis Number: R06100182
  • Engine: 2100
  • Gearbox: manual
  • Steering position: RHD
  • Colour: Bronze Green
  • Estimated Price: £25,000 - £30,000

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