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1960 Land Rover Series II - O.G. Rover

Posted in Features on September 1, 2014 Comment (0)
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Mention the words “Land Rover owner” in most circles and the image conjured is that of a stuffy English professor in a tweed sport jacket with butterscotch-colored elbow pads. But that wasn’t always the case. Once upon a time in the mid-20th century, Rover owners were outdoorsmen, explorers, and adventurers who relied on their rugged little British-built 4x4s to keep them alive in the severe wilds of Africa, Australia, Mongolia, South America, and Wales. Welsh jokes aside, from its beginnings in 1948, the Series I Land Rovers were built with high survivability in mind incorporating things like cast hinges, aluminum body panels, rugged frames, beefy axles, and very sturdy drivetrains. Sure, the Lucas electrical systems were something of a joke, but it’s not like they were trying to power onboard fax machines and double-decker microwaves like present-day Land Rovers. And by the time the company had gotten around to the Series II for the ’58 to ’61 model years, a strong cult following had developed thanks to the vehicle’s legendary reliability and prowess.

The canvas soft top is a reproduction by Exmoor Trim, purchased through Rovers North. Matt had a 1.5-inch, 0.120-wall DOM cage built that’s tied into the frame since regular floor plates could punch right through the aluminum tub.

It’s a cult following that’s spanned countless decades—and generations. Matthew Jackson was exposed to these cool little rigs as a kid by his dad, a British Paratrooper. We assume that, as a kid, he went on countless missions in his dad’s Land Rovers behind enemy lines, dodging patrols and making vroom-vroom noises with his mouth. Eventually, Matt grew up and stumbled onto this sweet ’60 Series II for sale. As it turns out, the vehicle had some bona fide expedition heritage. The original owner purchased the rig back in 1960 and then drove it to Costa Rica and back before selling it in 1961. The second owner used the Series II for putting around town, wheeling, and camping until Matt purchased the vehicle from him in 1996. As you’d imagine, Matt is pretty plugged in and turned on to these old Rovers. He takes his ’60 to many Land Rover (and non-Land Rover) events, and he designed the adapter that allows you to mate the early Rover T-case to a round Dana 300-pattern transmission adapter, which Advance Adapters now manufactures and sells. In fact, Matt now works at the company. But the adapter design and Rover build all came before that. But it was through his connection with Advance Adapters that we first met Matt at the 2014 Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah. The company had his Land Rover on display in its booth at the vendor show area. We conned his boss into cutting him and the Rover loose for the afternoon so we could shoot some photos and share his story. The rest, as they say, is history.

At A Glance
General
Vehicle: 1960 Land Rover Series II
Owner: Matthew Jackson
Stomping grounds: California
Built time: Five years

Drivetrain
Engine: ’97 Chevy 5.7L Vortec V-8
Transmission: NP435 four-speed
Transfer case(s): ’69 Series IIA with “suffix b” gears; two-spd
Low range ratio: 2.88:1
Crawl ratio: 68.2:1
Front axle/differential: Rover/3.54 gears, ARB Air Locker
Rear axle/differential: Rover/3.54 gears, ARB Air Locker

Suspension
Front: Stock springs with Old Man Emu bushings, JK Rubicon rear shocks
Rear: Santana parabolic springs, Old Man Emu shocks
Steering: Scout power box with Land Rover Discovery pitman arm and tie rod ends

Tires/Wheels
Tires: 33x12.50R15 Hercules Trail Digger MT
Wheels: 15x8 Raceline steel

Miscellaneous
Armor: Vintage Superwinch front bumper, custom rocker guards, 3/8-inch pipe caps welded in place of axle bowls
Cool stuff: Painless wiring system; aluminum radiator with electric fan; Advance Adapters T-case adapter; Pangolin 4x4 leather steering-wheel wrap; ARB air compressor; Centerforce I clutch; custom roll cage; Jeep CJ cast iron clutch master cylinder; Exmoor Trim canvas top; 35,000 BTU heater

When Matt blew up the hot little 327ci V-8 he used to run, he installed a Chevy Performance carb manifold on a ’97 Vortec 5.7L and stabbed it in place with a hillbilly fuel-injection system. That’s a Q-Jet to you and me. The exhaust manifolds are both eary driver-side Corvette ram’s horn units since the driver side uses a ball collector and not a flat gasket surface. Matt had to do some fancy machining to use the early short water pump accessory drive with the hydraulic roller cam. Ultimately, he machined the edge of the sensor wheel to fit an early timing-chain cover.
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The interior is a wonderful mix of old and new. A leather wrap on the factory steering wheel by Pangolin 4x4, Dynamat sound deadening, and a honkin’ 35,000 BTU heater make the interior comfy on long drives. And drive it Matt does! The Camper Special tags obviously aren’t original, but we dig the factory windshield vents to cool the cabin.
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