1958 Land Rover SERIES II SWB

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1958 Land Rover SERIES II SWB


That the Land Rover Series II was launched more than sixty years ago is hard to believe. Launched in 1958 and in production for three years until the arrival of the IIa, it was a massive improvement over the previous model thanks to its (relatively) curvaceous and more accommodating body, features that made it a welcome update for the sort of folk for whom Solihull’s finest provided the only viable transport to get them across vast swathes of the Third World.

Initially available with either the two-litre petrol or diesel engine from the Series I, a move to larger and more powerful engines was inevitable; tectonic plates move faster than an early Series II, even with your foot flat to the floor... 

And while the 2.25-litre diesel engine that joined the lineup with the introduction of the Series IIA in 1961 isn’t the last word in power or refinement, it is hugely reliable and will run forever on the merest whiff of an oily rag. It is, therefore, utterly in keeping with the rest of the vehicle, which is distinctly agricultural but as tough as a miner’s steel-toe-capped boots.

The 72bhp petrol engine, on the other hand, might displace the same as its diesel stablemate but it is a completely different animal being silky smooth and a joy to rev. Not so much of a joy when it is time to fill up of course but then everything in life has a cost and most agree that the moderate increase in fuel consumption is a small price to pay for what is indisputably a much nicer driving experience.

A 2.6-litre, straight-six diesel was also offered in the long wheelbase models, but it was never a popular option when new and is even rarer now.

Other than the matching 2.25-litre engines, the Series IIA is very similar to the Series II to look at and the move to wing-mounted headlamps from grille-mounted is really the only way to distinguish them at a distance.

It was available with either an 88” wheelbase (the short wheelbase model, or SWB) or a 109”, the long wheelbase or LWB. Other factory options included a soft-top as well as a fixed-roof, and the latter was available with the much prized ‘Safari roof’, a double-skinned arrangement that is said to reduce the ambient temperature inside the cab thanks to a cooling flow of air betwixt the two.

You could choose your new LWB Land Rover as a Station Wagon with either ten or 12 seats (the latter was classed as a minibus, so was very tax-efficient…), a van or pickup. The nifty, ultra-manoeuvrable SWB could be had in the same configurations albeit seating fewer people.

But, no matter which engine you choose, the Series II and IIA were never about refinement, power, or handling; they were built to conquer the world using brute force and stubbornness and were the latest in a long line of Land Rovers that helped civil engineers, explorers, and the military get to where they needed to be.

Oh, and they can be repaired and maintained by anyone competent with an adjustable spanner and a pocketful of loose change, which makes them ideal as a starter classic, especially when you consider their rock-solid residuals and the low cost of insurance.

The Vehicle

One of the very first of the Series II vehicles and so possibly one of only around 1,500 built for the domestic market, this wonderful Land Rover was first registered on the 3rd of September 1958.

Fitted with the correct two-litre engine and a 1958-dated gearbox, both of which were rebuilt as part of its recent restoration, the chassis was carefully and professionally repaired to maintain all the little quirks and extra bracketry that were erased for the ‘59MY-onwards cars.

The external bodywork was also repainted and the vehicle was then meticulously reassembled with re-galvanised cappings and new bolts before being finally finished off with a brand-new hood and hood sticks from Exmoor as well as a new set of matching tyres.

As a long-time Series II fan, he has just uncovered the original and unmolested example he always had his heart set on, which means that this one is reluctantly being offered for sale. This is not something he thought would ever be the case after having spent so much time and money on it, but his loss could be your gain...

On the Outside

There are only two colours to run an old Land Rover in, and green is by far our favourite. This one looks terrific after its recent restoration, work that included an exterior respray and re-galvanized cappings.

The overall fit ‘n’ finish is very good and almost certainly better than it ever was in-period. There are, of course, a few minor dents here and there, and the paint has been applied in some places with more enthusiasm than skill, but nothing wears a patina better than an old Landy. However, please don’t think we’re damning with faint praise because it’s still better than 99.9% you’ll see trundling around.

The galvanized fittings are as good as you’d expect after their refurbishment, and there’s plenty of evidence of new bolts, nuts, and fasteners, too.

Plus a new Exmoor hood and sticks, of course. Exmoor is, without doubt, the market leader for this kind of thing and when you see a freshly painted Land Rover wearing one of its tan hoods you can see why folk flock to them.

The freshly painted steel wheels are in great shape and are fitted with matching Deestone Extra Traction 6.00-16 mud terrain tyres.

As we will never tire of explaining, our experience shows that matching high-quality tyres are an infallible sign of a caring and mechanically sympathetic owner who is prepared to spend the appropriate amount in maintaining their car properly. Their presence does not, of course, preclude the need for a thorough inspection - something the vendor would welcome, by the way – but it does perhaps give you a shortcut into their attitude towards maintenance.

The light lenses all look bright and shiny, while the badges and number plates remain patinated, which is a Good Thing because there’s nothing worse than completely erasing a car’s history when you’re restoring it.

NB: Legend has it that the front grille is easily removeable to enable explorers and adventurers to barbecue on it over an open fire.

On the Inside

What can we say about the interior? Well, for a start there’s not much to it but then what there is looks terrific. The three front seats, for example, are from Exmoor (yes, the same folk that supplied the hood). Finished in the correct grey ‘elephant hide’, they still look like new.

The front floor panels look to have been repainted recently, and they’re nicely set off by a very clean set of knobs on top of the three (count ‘em!) gear levers. There is a set of fresh rubber mats in there, too.

The steering wheel is pretty good too, and the instrument panel is a model of clarity and simplicity. And, there’s a Smiths heater in there, a modern convenience that would have been an optional extra when the Land Rover was new. Fresh ducting too, so someone’s clearly spent the time to get it suitably fettled.

Being a short-wheelbase model, space in the rear is limited. However, there’s plenty of space in there for dogs, firewood, or even a few mates. The inside of the tailgate has been very neatly painted and it’s retained with new chains.

The underside of the new hood is as good as you’d expect, and the hood sticks are shiny and clean rather than rusty and wobbly. All-in-all, the interior is lovely but would benefit from a few hours of fettling to enable it to fulfil its potential.

And what is there still to do? Well, given how good the rest of the interior and exterior is, we can see the vehicle’s new owner might want to freshen up the paintwork on the inside of the doors, under the seats, and in the rear load space – and because the seats themselves are so good, you might like to paint the retaining brackets, too.

Oh, and the tool kit is rusty. Still, when the lights go out in the UK in January, this will give you something to do as restoring them could be undertaken by candlelight using only basic hand tools…


The Land Rover was fitted with an incorrect diesel engine when he bought it, so he wasted no time in sourcing the correct one for it: As a very early Series II car, it would have been fitted with the Series I’s two-litre unit rather than the later 2.25.

Having found one, along with a gearbox from the same year, he had both rebuilt as part of the restoration. However, as we mentioned earlier, there isn’t any paperwork to confirm this but we’ve driven it and can confirm that it starts well, ticks over nicely, and drives as it should.

These early petrol engines might not produce much power but they’re surprisingly sweet-revving and tick over like a sewing machine. Please see the video to hear it running.

Please remember, however, that the vehicle will need running in as it’s done only around ten miles since being finished.

The appearance of the engine bay is pretty good, while the underside is, as you might expect of a freshly restored vehicle, ultra-solid and looking terrific. Neatly undersealed, there’s plenty of evidence of recent expenditure on the mechanical bits too, with fresh copper brake pipes, a new exhaust system, and new dampers, etc.

History Highlights

The Land Rover doesn’t have a current MoT certificate, and while it is exempt by virtue of its age, we would strongly encourage the new owner to have the car re-MoT’d at the earliest. The cost of an MOT is a small investment when offset against the purchase and upkeep of any classic car, and it gives an independent, third-party assessment of the car’s condition, which not only provides reassurance to the owner (and any subsequent purchasers) but might also be invaluable in the event of a bump when negotiating with the police and any interested insurance companies…

Please visit the documents section of the gallery of this listing where you will find photos of what paperwork there is, which largely comprises paperwork for the parts needed for the final reassembly, work the vendor undertook himself. 

Sadly, the company that did the bulk of the work went out of business before completing it so there is no paperwork for that element of the build but the vendor estimates that he spent around £9,000 on the work before completing the final few jobs himself

If you’d like to inspect the car prior to placing a bid – something we would encourage – then please use the Contact Seller button to arrange an appointment.

What We Think

Buying an old Land Rover is never a bad idea and when it’s a freshly restored example then it adds yet another dimension to an already very attractive working classic.

One of the (many) joys of running an old Series Landy is that they can be left sitting for months at a time without worry; all you do is jump in, pump the throttle a couple of times and it’s almost certain to fire into life. This makes them ideal for folk who want an occasional classic for beach barbeques, a spot of muddy fun, fetching logs, or just to keep mobile in the snow.

Priced to sell, we think it’ll fetch somewhere between £12,500 and £20,000 but that’s almost irrelevant; if you’ve got the money earning sod-all interest in the bank, this is a far more interesting way of tucking it away, surely?

Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

If needed, please remember we have a network of trusted suppliers we work with regularly and can recommend: Classic & Sportscar Finance for purchase-financing, Footman James for classic car insurance Thames Valley Car Storage for storing your car and an array of regional providers for transporting it.

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 never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at the vehicles 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 simple 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 and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, the Sale of Goods Act 1979 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: Abingdon, Oxfordshire
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: 01471
  • Chassis Number: 114801478
  • Engine: 2000
  • Gearbox: Manual
  • Colour: Green
  • Interior: Green/Grey

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