1961 The Swiss army adopted the Land Rover. A revised range known as the Land Rover Series IIA was launched. The capacity of the diesel was increased to 2286cc, in line with the petrol unit, raising power to 62bhp (46kW). 1962 The Series IIA 109in Forward Control version was introduced.
The first ones wore the light green used on Rover cars, but as part of a new strategy for 1954 customers were able to choose grey or blue. On 3 December 1953, three days after his 80th birthday, an 86in Land Rover UKE 80 was registered in the name of Sir Winston Spencer Churchill KG, OM, CH, MP, and delivered to Chartwell.
“It is a vehicle intended to bash over fields in far-flung parts of the empire on unmetalled tracks. So why should it be built with the same care as a Rover 60? Surely something more agricultural would be better and cheaper.” In October a Tickford-bodied Station Wagon was introduced to try and broaden the Land Rover’s appeal and in December Rover chairman E Ransom Harrison told shareholders that judging from the volume of inquiries and orders, this vehicle will be something very much more than an additional source of production. It may yet equal, or even exceed our car output.”
The freewheel allowed them to run faster than the rears on corners. The disadvantage was that four-wheel drive needed to be as effective coming down hills as going up, so engine braking on early Land Rovers was transmitted through the rear wheels only.
The Land-Rover hyphen continued in use up to 1978, was gone by 1980, and Land Rover prospered without it. The designers employed a production saloon gearbox, even the steering wheel was a standard Rover spring-spoke, and almost the only new item was a transfer box to take the drive to the front wheels. Both axles were broadly similar which was a useful economy. The transfer box had two ranges, allowing the driver to select four high gears for driving on main roads and four low ones for haulage off-road.
The first peacetime project for Rover was the Fiat 500 inspired M-Type or M1. Envisaged as a small family car with a 699cc engine, aluminum was used for the chassis because of steel shortages, and three prototypes were built in 1946 before the project was finally abandoned.
Three prototypes were built and ran before the end of 1946, well-proportioned coupes with a distinctive Rover style. By 1947, when changes in car taxation and government pressure to adopt a one-model policy conspired against it, the M-type seemed unlikely to be sold in sufficient numbers to fill the vast factory space acquired during the war. When it was abandoned, it left a gap in Rover’s future model strategy.
Wilks agreed that he would be relieved to be rid of them. Hives’ response was, “You give us this jet job and I’ll give you our tank engine factory in Nottingham.” From 1 January 1943, Hooker became chief engineer at the former cotton mill at Barnoldswick near Skipton, where Rolls-Royce planned W.2B production, and henceforth it became Rolls-Royce’s jet engine development center.
Their attraction lay in the limitations of propeller-driven aircraft above 450mph (722.4kph). Whittle formed Power Jets Ltd in 1936, tried to interest Armstrong-Siddeley but met with skepticism, and it was not until BTH (British Thomson-Houston) agreed to produce his drawings for the Whittle Unit (WU) 1, that he made progress.
1940 The first Solihull-built production Hercules engines were tested in October, and other Rover plants also produced Bristol aero engine components. On the night of 14 November, apparently in response to an RAF raid on Munich, the German Luftwaffe attacked Coventry.
Of all the changes wrought, the most significant was a more powerful diesel engine option, with an identical capacity, bore and stroke to its petrol sibling. It was an important turning point for the company, for today diesel power dominates the Land Rover workhorses in Britain and other European markets.