Skip navigation
0 Visits Today

My 1948 Series 1 Land Rover

  • image

    The Series 1 Land Rover was to compete with the famed American Willys Jeep and robust farm tractors. Photo Gallery

The future for four-wheel drives looks bleak, says one of the engineers responsible for perhaps the most iconic of all off-roaders.

Arthur Goddard, 91, who was chief engineer of the first Land Rovers from 1947 to 1972, believes 4WDs will become victims of their size, fuel consumption and safety issues.

"They would use about 25 per cent more fuel than they need what with the wheels, weight and gears, plus driving the other two wheels loses a lot of efficiency," he says. "Their chassis is too stiff and they don't absorb a crash as well as a car with crumple zones.

"Cars will be a lot smaller in the future. There really is no reason to have an engine any bigger than one litre."

Goddard believes the future for Land Rover is in the coming front-wheel-drive version of the Range Rover #aacEvoque compact SUV.

"The days of big 4WDs are numbered." Goddard was "discovered" by a Series 1 Land Rover owner working nearby in Brisbane, leading to the publication of a book last year about his engineering feats, called They Found Our Engineer, written by Michael Bishop.

He has now been welcomed into the Series Land Owners (SLOW) historical 4WD club as founding patron. Goddard never thought such a fuss would be made over him when he was working on the first model in 1947.

"Our biggest challenge was to produce a suitable vehicle for agriculture and the army," he says. "We never thought anyone would be daft enough to use a 4WD with such bad fuel economy to take the kids to school.

"My family all have 4WDs. I'm the only one with a proper car," says the proud Hyundai Excel owner who has never owned one of his own products. Goddard says the challenge for the Series 1 Land Rover was to compete with the famed American Willys Jeep and robust farm tractors.

He boasts that it was lighter and rustproof with its advanced aluminium body, had a 50 per cent stiffer box-section steel chassis, featured a four-speed gearbox rather than three and had a more efficient engine.

Series models have leaf-sprung suspension, can be started with a front hand crank and could fit farming machinery to the rear, such as thrashers, ploughs and slashers. 

"I knew nothing about military or agriculture, just about cars," he says. "I drove number three off the line to the Amsterdam motor show in '48 and everyone was really enthusiastic.

"The British Army ordered 1000 vehicles. I shouldn't think they are selling too many to the farmers and armies nowadays."

Goddard returned to the UK last year and drove some of the new models. "They are very fine vehicles, but they are more of a car these days," he says.

Web: www.slow.org.au

Series 1 Land Rover
Year: 1948
Price New: $665
Price Now: about $10,000-$20,000
Engine: 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine, 37kW
Transmission: 4-speed, 2-speed transfer box
Did you know: In 1992 Land Rover claimed that 70 per cent of all their vehicles were still in use.

Got a special car you'd like featured in Carsguide? Modern or classic we're interested in hearing your story. Please send a pic and brief info to mark.hinchliffe@carsguide.com.au

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 5 comments

  • This car is awesome! It is so amazing to see how far cars have come and what they used to look like. I really prefer the looks of older cars and think that this Land Rover is an absolute beauty! Makes me happy to see that the owner kept it in great condition.

    Mia Hart Posted on 12 March 2014 7:35am
  • Hi I did achassis up rebuild of a 1948 landrover last year I am the third owner the previous owner had it for 58 years I am driving it to Birdsville on the 21 May from Melbourne hope I did a good job of the rebuild

    Chris Rowleyassofork1@bigpond.com of sormerville Posted on 16 May 2013 9:01pm
  • yes I too have a 52 series one, great car, restored it 20 years ago, and still going strong

    peter pumkineater of australia Posted on 31 December 2012 6:54pm
  • I too have a 52 series one and restored it over 20 years ago from a bare chassis up.
    It is still going well, just fitted the gearbox restored and now it does not jump out of gears…wonderful.
    The boys learnt to drive in it when it only had first gear ( very safe for 12 yr olds) and now they are grown up , I had the gearbox repaired .
    It starts and runs like a well oiled sewing machine, I hope to drive it on the property into my 90’s. legs being willing.

    These are a great restoration project for any youngster and I recommend that you buy one today.
    I have a spare one for sale to the right attitude person…......
    just enjoy..

    peter pumkineater of nsw australia Posted on 31 December 2012 6:33pm
  • HI , I HAVE A 1953 80” LAND ROVER SERIES ONE , I DRIVE IT ALMOST EVERY DAY TO WORK (IT NOT RAINING ) , LOVE THE VEHILCE , I CAN SEE WHY THIS GENTLEMAN IS SO PROUD OF HIS , PEOPLE LOOK , POINT AND WHEN YOUR DRIVE PAST MOSTLY LAUGHING , LOVE THE FRESH AIR AND TRAVELLING AT MAX SPEED OF 50 MPH YOU CAN INJOY THE DRIVE , REGARD ROB

    ROBERT BUXTON of MOREE Posted on 07 July 2012 9:32am
Read all 5 comments

Add your comment on this story

Indicates required

We welcome your comments on this story. Comments are submitted for possible publication on the condition that they may be edited. Please provide your full name. We also require a working email address - not for publication, but for verification. The location field is optional.