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Land Rover Series I (1948 - 1957)

Last updated 6 February 2016


Buying Guide


  • A sound chassis is critical – get underneath and inspect every inch of the metal.
  • Box sections tend to corrode from the inside out, so tap as much of the metal as you can.
  • Spring mountings and rear crossmembers have often seen better days.
  • Rear bump stops clog up with mud and corrode.
  • Chassis outriggers can also rot.
  • Check the back of the chassis for rot behind the spring hangers – this is expensive to repair.
  • A rotten rear crossmember means you’ll have to remove the fuel tank before welding.
  • Inspect the bulkhead because this can rust and is tricky to repair.
  • Door pillars can rot badly, but repairs here are easier than you might think.
  • Trafficators or flashing indicators are now a legal requirement and an inconspicuous 6 volt set can be obtained from Holden Vintage & Classic.


  • Parts for diesels can be hard to find.
  • Watch out for cracked cylinder heads and faulty injectors on oil-burners.
  • Six-cylinder petrol engines are durable but the valve gear is fiddly to set up so often sound tappety.
  • Tappets on four-cylinder engines wear quickly.
  • Oil leaks are common, especially from the flywheel housing, which can be expensive to fix.
  • Core plugs can weep and so can the water pump.
  • If the temperature sensor at the back of the cylinder head is wet, the head gasket may have failed.
  • Rubber valve guide oil seals can dry out then disintegrate unless the car is used regularly.
  • Check the thermostat housing bolts on all engines as they tend to corrode and seize – a proper repair means removing the cylinder head.

Transmission and running gear

  • Listen for clonks from worn universal joints.
  • Make sure the clutch isn’t on its last legs.
  • Listen out for differential whine.
  • Gearboxes are also tough, but jumping out of gear means there’s a problem.
  • Diff’s are generally strong, but the rear will wear the fastest.
  • Series II and IIA long-wheelbase cars can suffer from broken half-shafts.
  • Vague steering could be caused by worn ball joints.
  • Inspect the swivel housings (they look like a ball and socket on the back of each front wheel hub).
  • You’re checking the chrome surface isn’t pitted – if it is the seals have leaked and that’s an MoT failure.
  • Front and rear semi-elliptic springs usually rust between the leaves.
  • The leaves should also be a consistent thickness end to end.


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