The Land Rovers are instantly recognizable vehicles that were inspired by the Willys Jeep built in the U.S. for use by the military during the World War II.
When the Rover Company first began planning and developing their off-road vehicle, they had originally planned to only manufacture Land Rovers for a few years after the end of the war. The goal was to gain enough cash flow, so that car manufacturing could begin again. Even when car production was re-started, the sales of the Land Rover Series' outsold those of the cars, which resulted in the development of the Land Rover brand.
From 1948 until 1985, Land Rover, the British vehicle manufacturer, produced three different series' of off-road vehicles referred to as series Land Rovers. According to the manufacturer, these instantly recognizable vehicles were inspired by the Willys Jeep built in the U.S. for use by the military during the World War II. After the end of the war, the Rover car manufacturing company had its designers begin work on their version of the Willys Jeep, spawning the introduction of the first Land Rover.
The initial series of the Land Rover went into production in 1948 and was later referred to as the Land Rover Series 1. In 1958, the Land Rover Series 2 began production and replaced the original Land Rover Series 1 vehicles. The Land Rover Series 2 continued into production until 1961, when it was replaced by an updated version, called the Land Rover Series 2A.
The Land Rover Series 2 was the first of the Land Rover off-road vehicles to be designed by David Bache, the chief stylist in the styling department at Rover. When Bache redesigned the Land Rover, he added the characteristic barrel sides that make the Land Rover Series 2 instantly recognizable. The changed waistline of the Land Rover was done to cover the wider track of the off-road vehicle. This series of the Land Rovers was also the first to be designed with curved side windows and a round roof. These features have become a unique style design for Land Rover and continue to be used in current models.
Two different wheelbase lengths and three body styles were available for the Land Rover Series 2. The short wheelbase (SWB) had a length of 88 inches, while the longer wheelbase (LWB) was 109 inches long. The three body styles of the Land Rover Series 2 were a two-door and four-door off vehicle, and a two-door pickup truck. Seating capacity varied from seven in the short wheelbase version to 12 in a new long wheelbase station wagon that was introduced with the launch of the Land Rover Series 2.
When the Land Rover Series 2 began production, there was some overlap with the previous Series 1 models. Approximately the first 1500 of the short wheelbase versions had the same engine as found in the Series 1 models, which was a 2.0-liter engine that ran on gasoline and produced 52 horsepower and 101 lb-ft of torque at 1500 rpm. A 2.0-liter, four-cylinder diesel engine, as found in the Series 1 models, was also available for the Land Rover Series 2 models. The diesel had a similar power output as the gasoline-powered engine, but produced only 87 lb-ft of torque at 2000 rpm.
A new engine was also introduced with the Land Rover Series 2, and became the engine of choice until the mid 1980s when diesel engines began to increase in popularity. The new engine found in the Land Rover Series 2 was a 2.25-liter, four-cylinder engine powered by gasoline. The larger engine had a higher power output of 72 horsepower. All models, no matter what engine was found under the hood, had a four-speed manual transmission.
With the introduction of the long wheelbase Land Rover Series 2 station wagon model, the maximum seating capacity of the off-road vehicle increased from 10 to 12 passengers. Due to the increase to 12, the Land Rover Series 2 station wagon could be classified as a bus. As a result, this model benefited from tax exemptions, which actually made it cheaper than both the 10-passenger long wheelbase model and the seven-passenger short wheelbase model.
In 1961, the Land Rover Series 2 model ceased production and was replaced by the Land Rover Series 2A. While there is very little to distinguish the two models apart, the reason for the name modification was due to a new engine being included with the Land Rover Series 2A model.