Pre-Production 80" Land-Rovers


80" SW
107" SW

The preproduction Land Rovers are basically a small batch of vehicles made (48 in total numbered R or L01 to 48) for the purpose of testing and evaluating by the Rover company and others before production started in June 1948. The history of these vehicles is covered closely in many book the most well know being Land Rover - The Early Years by Tony Hutchings. What isn't covered so closely is the originality of each of them and a lot of the detail of the existing 19 vehicles. Tom Pickford and myself have been closely comparing each of the existing vehicles and are keeping notes on each one so eventually a better idea of how each evolved and how a number of the design ideas changed on the first fifty or so production models, and then how they changed once again on the next 250 production vehicles and so on until you ended up with the real mass production 80" Land Rovers in late 1948. Of the 48 made nineteen exist and are numbered.... R01, L03, R04, R08, L09, L11, R12, R14, R16, R17, L19, R23, R24, L25, L29, R30, R45 and R46. The remains of L26 are in existence but not enough to put the vehicle back together.

All of the left-hand drive vehicles were converted to right-hand drives except L09 by the factory and are often now prefixed with an R. A few are being converted back to their original left hand spec'. The great thing about the preproduction is that for such historic vehicles a number of them are very accessible and are often being driven to shows and rallies by their owners, sometimes even taken offroad. The easiest to have a look at is R01 which is at the BMIHT centre, at Gaydon, Warwickshire. Another easy one to see is R04 which is at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu.

Looking at the Land Rovers closely with a trained eye for detail and a close knowledge of early production vehicles even though the prepro's look pretty much the same as a normal 80" obtaining permission first and then going all over them you will find endless differences, unless one has been updated with later parts. Some early parts that included the front hubs, swivel housings, swivels, steering relay and the tops of the brake and clutch pedals were cast in Phosphor Bronze. The chassis was galvanised on the preproductions which has helped preserve them. The bodywork is all slightly different to the normal stuff. An easily missed difference is the very heavy gauge alloy that it is made from. The engine came straight from the Rover P3 car line and has all the early car items on it and includes high compression pistons, alloy sump and side cover and on early vehicles the car oil filler on the right hand side of the engine. The gearbox is pretty much normal but is missing its reverse stop adjuster. The transfer box is in its in its original form with selectable freewheel and freewheel lock, selectable two and four wheel drive, and high or low ratio. The controls for the transfer box came through the bulkhead. The remains of some of these differences can be seen on production 80" Land Rovers - Michael Bishop.

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