The Land Rover Series 1 – or just ‘The Land Rover’ as it was called in 1948 – was the first ever Land Rover car to be produced and was the model that laid the foundations for what has become one of Britain’s most iconic marques.
The Land Rover Series 1 was very much a by-product of the Second World War. It was produced by Rover initially as a stop-gap to keep production ticking along during a very difficult time for car manufacturers, and the post-war car market as a whole.
Furthermore, it was inspired by the Jeeps made by American military vehicle manufacturer Willys, who themselves had just launched an all-purpose vehicle to the public for the very first time. However, new Jeeps were not being exported to the UK and any old Jeeps were in a poor state, so Rover decided to make a Rover for the Land.
As a result, the Land Rover was initially intended for agricultural and industrial use. Due to steel rationing after the war, the Land Rover had to be made using aluminum body panels. This distinct design would continue to be used in subsequent Land Rover models, not least the iconic Land Rover Defender which was very much based on early Land Rover models.
No one knew what to expect when the Land Rover was unveiled at the Amsterdam Motor Show in 1948, but the public loved it! Perhaps unintentionally, Rover had produced a real commercial hit that extended beyond farmers to the general public – and even to royalty!
Today, the Land Rover Series 1 is a must have for classic car and classic Land Rover collectors, with hundreds – or even thousands – still in circulation.
Did you know?
- Although launched in 1948, Land Rover didn’t become a marque until 1978.
- Due to its agricultural influences, the Land Rover Series 1 had its steering wheel positioned in the middle of the vehicle. At least they didn’t have to worry about production for right and left-hand drive markets.
- The 100th production model was presented to King George VI. This instigated a special relationship between Land Rover and the Royal Family which has lasted for nearly 70 years.
|Land Rover Series 1
|Top Speed (mph)
|1.6L I4 1595cc
The best of 1948
In 1948, the world was suffering from post-war depression. In Britain, rationing still affected families and businesses, and – as a country – was going through some significant political, social and cultural changes which helped shape the way we live today.
A huge moment for Britain occurred in 1948 when the National Health Service was launched by the Health Secretary at the time, Aneurin Bevan. For the first time ever, all hospitals and medical professionals were brought under a single institution to provide free healthcare for everyone.
The UN also adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 in light of two World Wars, while London held the first Olympic Games after a 12 year hiatus because of the war.
These games were dubbed the “Austerity Games” due to the rationing still in place in Britain.
Despite the war, the 40s were an iconic decade for style. By the end of the decade, more fabric meant more choice. Women now had more colour and patterns to choose from, often with contrasting trims and extended shoulder pads. The skirts were a lot sleeker than they were at the start of the decade.
As for the men, the freedom brought by no longer needing to wear restrictive military attire resulted in a more casual approach after the war. Open collar shirts, slip on loafers and collarless knitwear formed much of the casual dress code for men.
A real game changer in the music industry occurred in 1948 when Columbia Records introduced the Long Playing Record, or as its better known, the LP. With a 331⁄3 rpm speed, a 12 or 10 inch diameter vinyl and played using a microgroove stylus, the LP had a playback time of over 20 minutes on each side.
The LP vinyl record quickly became the industry standard and still fills record shop shelves to this day.
Also in the USA, 1948 was the year that television sales really took off now that families were free from the constraints of war-time financial worries. By 1948, 1 million households owned a television whereas just 5,000 owned one 3 years prior. Britain would experience a similar boom a few years later, which coincided with the televised coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1952.