Land Rover Enthusiast’s Guide

Enthusiast Guides

Unrivalled. Unapologetic. Unmistakably British.

Land Rovers are a testament to the very best in British design. They’re rugged and durable, but they have an elegance to them too. It’s no wonder there are millions of Landy enthusiasts across the globe.

Owning a Land Rover is more than owning a car. It’s an attitude and a lifestyle. No matter which model you own or ogle, the Land Rover will always be cherished as the ultimate do-it-all vehicle, and buying one is like buying a little slice of an almost 75-year-old legacy of adventure. From the Series 1 that started it all, to the classic first-of-its-kind Range Rover, and the all-terrain Defenders and Discos, the history and legend of Land Rover is almost as iconic as the vehicle itself.


Classic 4x4 Land Rover insurance
Heritage customer Enda McKenna’s Land Rover drawn by POPBANGCOLOUR for our Customer Stories Project

There are now millions of enthusiasts across the world who have enjoyed, and continue to enjoy, their time as Landy owners. To celebrate this icon, we’ve put together our Land Rover enthusiasts guide. Read on for a journey through the history of Land Rover, some tips for if you’re looking to buy or restore, and some interesting facts and trivia to boot.

Land Rover History

The Land Rover timeline is a fascinating one, beginning with two brothers at the now defunct British car manufacturer Rover. After World War Two, chief designer Maurice Wilks had been using a cumbersome ex-military jeep on his Anglesey farm and realised there was a gap in the market for a better all-terrain vehicle. He partnered up with his brother Spencer Wilks, then managing director at Rover, to build the first ever Land Rover using an aluminium body and Rover parts. This prototype, devised by design engineer Gordon Bashford, was built in 1947 and put into production the following year in 1948.

The diesel model, which first came out in 1957, was the final Series 1 Land Rover. The following year, the first Series 2 model was put into production for Land Rover’s 10th anniversary. The company was bought by British Leyland soon after, who then launched the Range Rover in 1970. The first Series 3 Land Rover was launched in 1986. After that, the brand was sold to British Aerospace in 1988, then to Ford in 2000, and finally to Tata Motors in 2008, forming today’s Jaguar Land Rover.

Maurice and Spencer Wilks, founders of Land Rover
Maurice and Spencer Wilks, founders of Land Rover. Photo from roverparts.com
British Army Land Rover at a military revival. Land Rovers have gone the world over with the armed forces.
British Army Land Rover at a military revival. Land Rovers have gone the world over with the armed forces.

Land Rover Military History



The British army first purchased a group of Series 1 Land Rovers in 1949. Over time, military Land Rovers were heavily modified, including the 1967 Cold War era Series 2A Ambulance, and the 1968 Series 2A Pink Panther for desert use. More recently, the Land Rover Defender has been used by the British Army for soldier mobilisation, medical response and mine clearing.

Ex-army Wolfs and Lightweights are now cherished collectables, but with replacement parts becoming rarer and more expensive, restoring an ex-military Land Rover can be quite costly.

How much work do you want to take on as a classic Land Rover owner?

Buying a classic Land Rover is a big undertaking no doubt, but it’s also likely to be extremely rewarding, so long as you maintain it and treat it with the love and care it deserves.

It’s likely, particularly if you want to use your Land Rover to its full potential, that you’ll need to seek out certain repairs and replacement parts to keep it in good condition over time. If you aren’t an expert mechanic or have a limited budget, it’s important to make sure you’re not taking on too much work for a full restoration. Ideally, have a specialist check the car for you and get a comprehensive service history. Here are some general tips for what to look out for when looking over a potential buy…


Check for overheating, and also look out for low compression which indicates damage to the rings.

Gearbox and clutch

Look out for cracks on the early aluminium gear boxes. Check if the clutch is slipping when you test the car.

Suspension and brakes

With a history of heavy off-road use, the suspension of early Land Rovers is definitely worth checking out. Be aware of broken spring levers front and rear. Make sure the brakes and handbrake work properly with no squealing. Check the swivel balls on the front axle for rust.

Body work

If you’re after a Tickford, make sure you look for any rot on the wooden frame. If you’re after a Series 1 or Range Rover, check for rot and dents on the steel frame and chassis. The odd dent or panel gap is usually not a major issue.


Classic Land Rovers can be easily retrimmed so replacing the fabric is usually not a big problem, but it may be trickier to replace missing instruments or switch gear with original parts as these can be more rare.


Sadly, Land Rovers have a reputation for electrical faults. However, the good news is that Land Rover electrical systems are relatively straightforward to fix.

Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II with a Land Rover Series 2A on a tour in the 1970s.
Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II with a Land Rover Series 2A on a tour in the 1970s

Living with a classic Land Rover

The Land Rover is known as the classless classic, favoured by royals and the rich and famous, but driven in almost every town and village you come across. It’s no surprise then that there are many famous Landy owners such as Victoria Beckham, Daniel Craig and Reese Witherspoon, as well as historical figures like Winston Churchill. The Queen also owned many Land Rover Defenders as well as a Range Rover L322.

We spoke to some of our customers who own classic Landys such as the Land Rover Series S3, Discovery 3 and Land Rover Series 2A to find out more about what being a Land Rover enthusiast means to them.

Heritage customer Enda McKenna with his Land Rover Series III
Heritage customer Enda McKenna with his S3 and a bespoke portrait by POPBANGCOLOUR

Five Fascinating Land Rover Facts

Back in the early 1950s, Land Rover identified the gap in the market for a more luxurious model and built prototypes on the chassis of a Rover p4. By 1958, the project was abandoned and it wasn’t until the 1970s that the first ever SUV, the flagship Range Rover, was put in production.

The original Land Rover was designed for agricultural use and just like a tractor, had a steering wheel and driving seat in the centre of the car. This first car is known as the Centre Steer.

Land Rovers have been featured in many different films and television shows including Tomb Raider, Shaun of the Dead, Love Actually, and the James Bond films Skyfall and Spectre.

Find out about Ford’s most notable film moments in our enthusiast guide to classic Ford cars.


In the 1950s, Land Rover created a specialist vehicle for the British Forest Commission with enough off-road ability to move through muddy environments. The four large tractor tyres now resemble the designs of monster trucks today.

Land Rovers replaced Jeeps in the Camel Trophy in 1980 and were driven through the treacherous conditions of jungles, rainforests and deserts. The contest provided great marketing for Land Rovers and helped solidify its appeal as an uncompromising all-terrain vehicle.

Insuring your Land Rover is easy when you’ve got a specialist broker to hand. Whether classic, modified for off-roading or a bit of both, our friendly team can help get the cover you need – including breakdown, and a free Skytag GPS tracker unit if you want it.

Click below for more info on our classic and modified Land Rover insurance.

Classic Land Rover Buying Guide

There are many reasons to love Land Rovers, but one big reason is that they are among the best performing and economical cars Britain has ever brought to the table. With no shortage of Land Rover fans, there are plenty of approved dealers and well-organised enthusiast clubs all over the country.

Consider joining an owners’ club and take advantage of specialist knowledge, replacement parts and servicing to keep your Landy in top condition. It’s worth verifying if the Land Rover you’re thinking of buying is original by getting in touch with the relevant clubs. If anything seems amiss with your Landy, these experts will be the first to let you know!

Series 1

Every classic Land Rover is a collectible, but Series I(1) are the originals, and the most utilitarian. The original 1948 model is the most desirable, and will almost always be more expensive than 1949 models onwards. These early models were all powered by 1.6 petrol engines with 50bh, with the cheaper diesel models being launched in 1957.

Series 1s are flat-sided with no curves. It’s easy to spot one: just look out for the central grille, boxy headlight arrangement, and the spare wheel on the bonnet.

A Land Rover Series I(1), photographed in Wales
A Land Rover Series I(1), photographed in Wales
A 1964 Land Rover Series 2A
A 1964 Land Rover Series 2A

Series 2 and 2A

Built from 1958 to 1971, the Series II(2) are larger Land Rovers with more powerful engines than Series I models – and generally cheaper to buy. The Series 2A was also the first Land Rover model with a 2.25 diesel engine, first launched in 1961.

Series 3

The most widely available classic Land Rover, with almost 500,000 built, the Series III(3) is the first Landy with a V8 engine. It’s also more suitable to use as a passenger car with better trim options and safety features. Series 3s can be recognised by their plastic grille, rounded bonnet and slightly larger wing mirrors.

A fairly modern Range Rover, photographed in Scotland
A fairly modern Range Rover, photographed in Scotland

Range Rover

The Range Rover, first introduced in the 1970, met the growing demand for greater comfort. More than fifty years later, values continue to increase. The original three-door Range Rover is still an excellent off-roader and among the most desirable classic cars.


Robust and luxurious, the early Defenders, Land Rover’s original vehicle, have stood the test of time. Many are now fixed up with comparatively small sums of money, but beware costs continue to rise.

Land Rover Defender in the snow - Land Rover Enthusiasts Guide
The Land Rover Defender is a firm favourite for off-road adventures
A Land Rover Discovery taking part in the Camel Trophy
A Land Rover Discovery taking part in the Camel Trophy


In 1990, Land Rover launched the Discovery – great for those on budget still looking for a classic premium SUV. The Disco is versatile, usually cheaper to repair and if you buy a good one, great fun to drive.


Check out our visual history of Land Rover, in celebration of the marque’s 75-year anniversary.

Hundreds of our customers own Land Rovers, and we’re lucky to have stories to share regularly. Sign up for our newsletter below to hear the latest on all things classic car owner, insurance tips and news, and of course the occasional Landy feature.