Land Rover Heritage Society Inc

Land Rover Heritage Society Inc

Series 2/2a

The successor to the successful series I was the series II, which saw a production run from 1958 to 1961. It came in 88 in (2.24 m) and 109 in (2.77 m) wheelbases (normally referred to as the ‘SWB’ and ‘LWB’). This was the first Land Rover to receive the attention of Rover’s styling department. Chief Stylist David Bache produced the familiar ‘barrel side’ waistline, with a 5 in (12.7 cm) greater width to cover the vehicle’s wider tracks, as well as the improved design of the truck cab variant, introducing the curved side windows and rounded roof still used on current Land Rovers. The series II was the first vehicle to use the well-known 2.25-litre petrol engine, although the first 1,500 or so short wheelbase (SWB) models retained the 52 hp (39 kW) 2.0-litre petrol engine from the series I. This larger petrol engine produced 72 hp (54 kW) and was closely related to the 2.0-litre diesel unit still in use. This engine became the standard Land Rover unit until the mid-1980s when diesel engines became more popular.

 

Series 2

The 109-inch (2.77 m) series II station wagon introduced a twelve-seater option on top of the standard ten-seater layout. This was primarily to take advantage of UK tax laws, by which a vehicle with 12 seats or more was classed as a bus, and was exempt from Purchase Tax and Special Vehicle Tax. This made the twelve-seater not only cheaper to buy than the 10-seater version, but also cheaper than the seven-seater 88-inch (2.24 m) Station Wagon. The twelve-seater layout remained a highly popular body style for decades, being retained on the later series and Defender variants until 2002, when it was dropped. The unusual status of the twelve-seater remained until the end—such vehicles were classed as minibuses and thus could use bus lanes and (if registered correctly) could be exempt from the London Congestion Charge.

There was some degree of overlap between series I and II production. Early series-II 88-inch (2.24 m) vehicles were fitted with the old 2-litre petrol engine to use up existing stock from production of the series I. The 107-inch (2.72 m) Station Wagon continued until late 1959 due to continued demand from export markets and to allow the production of series-II components to reach full level.

The SII and the SIIA are very difficult to distinguish. There were some minor cosmetic changes. Body configurations available from the factory ranged from short-wheelbase soft-top to the top-of-the-line five-door station wagon. A 2.25-litre diesel was added to the engine line, which after 1967 included a 2.6-litre inline six cylinder petrol engine for the long-wheelbase models, which also had servo-assisted brakes. 811 of these were NADA (or North American Dollar Area) trucks, which were the only long-wheelbase models made for the American and Canadian markets.

From February 1969 (home market), the headlamps moved into the wings on all models, and the sill panels were redesigned to be shallower a few months afterwards.

The series IIA is considered by many the most hardy series model constructed. It is quite possibly also the type of classic Land Rover that features strongly in the general public’s perception of the Land Rover, from its many appearances in popular films and television documentaries set in Africa throughout the 1960s, such as Born Free. In February 1968, just a few months after the Rover Company had been subsumed, under government pressure, into the Leyland Motor Corporation, the Land Rover celebrated its twentieth birthday, with total production to date just short of 600,000, of which more than 70% had been exported. Certainly it was whilst the series IIA was in production that sales of utility Land Rovers reached their peak, in 1969–70, when sales of over 60,000 Land Rovers a year were recorded. (For comparison, the sales of the Defender have been around the 25,000 level since the 1990s.) As well as record sales, the Land Rover dominated many world markets- in Australia in the 1960s Land Rover held 90% of the 4×4 market. This figure was repeated in many countries in Africa and the Middle East.