The Series II Land Rover was introduced in April 1958, exactly 10 years after the original was shown in Amsterdam. Both “Regular” and “Long” models had the same wheelbases as the Series Is they replaced, but there were many important differences. Most obvious was the styling (by Rover’s David Bache), which was impressive enough to survive with only minor changes into the 21st century. It provided barrel-sides to cover axles with wider tracks, plus a sill panel to conceal the underpinnings, and a particularly neat truck cab option. Mechanical changes focussed on a new and much more powerful petrol engine, this time an OHV four-cylinder of 2286cc. However, the 88-inch models retained the old 2-litre engine until summer 1958. The existing 2052cc diesel, a close cousin of the new petrol engine, remained available. The usual range of body styles was on offer – soft top, truck cab, and Station Wagon (see below). Overseas buyers could also have a Window Hardtop model. Bronze Green was still the most popular colour, but there were six others: Beige, Dark Grey, Light Green, Light Grey, Marine Blue and Poppy Red, the latter for fire engines. There were 60,456 88-inch Series II models, of which just 9,539 were diesel-powered. The last five 1500-series chassis (from 1960) appear to have had Perkins diesel engines from new.
The 88-inch Station Wagon followed the pattern set by the 86-inch models in 1954, with three forward-facing seats and four inward-facing “occasional” seats in the rear. The body shared many component parts with the contemporary 88-inch utility bodies, but roof panel (with “Alpine light” windows) and rear upper body sides were special. It is not possible to determine exactly how many Series II 88-inch Station Wagons were made, because surviving records do not distinguish them from the utility models which shared the same chassis number sequences. Colours available were the same as for the contemporary utility models, less the Poppy Red used on fire engines.
The Series II 109-inch utility models were introduced at the same time as the 88-inch models. All petrol-engined models had the new 2.25-litre engine. Body type availability was the same as for the 88-inch models, but there were more special conversions on the more versatile long wheelbase chassis. Paint colours were also the same. There were 42,032 Series II 109-inch utilities, of which 8,299 had diesel engines.
The Station Wagon version of the Series II 109-inch Land Rover did not appear until September 1958, as a 1959 model. Demand for long-wheelbase Station Wagons was met by the last 107-inch (Series I) types in the five months after the introduction of the other Series II models. The Series II 109 Station Wagon always came as a 10 or 12-seater, with six forward-facing seats and two “occasional” bench seats facing inwards in the rear, where it was just about possible to carry six further people. Paint colours were the same as for the 109-inch utilities, less the Poppy Red used on fire engines. There were 7,579 Series II 109-inch Station Wagons, of which only 276 had diesel engines.
The Series IIA models were introduced in 1961 and were strictly evolutions of the Series II types. They took their name from a change in the Land Rover chassis numbering system. Instead of a new prefix code for every model-year, there was now a suffix letter which changed whenever important specification changes were made. The first vehicles with this new system had an A suffix, and so became Series IIA models. As the code letters changed, however (finishing at H in 1971), the model-type illogically remained unchanged as Series IIA! There were two major phases of Series IIA production. Early models had their headlights in the grille, but with the Suffix G models in April 1969 came a switch to wing-mounted headlights. Briefly overlapping the end of the “headlights in grille” period came a transitional specification for the North American market, which is explained below. The 88-inch Series IIA models were available with either the 2.25-litre petrol engine first seen in the Series II types, or with a new diesel engine, enlarged to 2.25 litres from the 2-litre Series II type. The final examples (Suffix H from February 1971) had an all-synchromesh gearbox. Most IIAs came in Bronze Green, but there were six other colours: Beige, Dark Grey, Light Green, Light Grey, Marine Blue and Poppy Red, the latter for fire engines. Seats were grey until October 1968, when they switched to black. There were 151,820 88-inch Series IIA models (including all Station Wagons). Diesel engines were fitted to just 28,109 (about 18.5 percent) of that total.
A seven-seat Station Wagon was available on the Series IIA 88-inch chassis from 1961, although it was not until March 1965 that these models were given their own chassis numbering sequences. It is therefore not possible to be certain how many examples were built before that date. However, production between 1965 and 1971 averaged around 2,250 Station Wagons a year. This suggests that a further 8,500 or so would have been built between 1961 and March 1965. The general specification of the Series IIA 88-inch Station Wagon was the same as that of its Series II predecessor, although diesel models had the 2.25-litre engine. Colours were the same as for the contemporary utilities, but Poppy Red was not generally available except in North America. As on the utilities, seats changed from grey to black in 1968 and headlamps moved to the wing fronts in 1969. Between March 1965 and the end of production in 1971, 13,572 Series IIA 88-inch Station Wagons were built. Of those, only 1,922 (about 14 percent) had diesel engines. Note that all Station Wagons were built at Solihull from March 1965 and that there were no CKD models; the same was probably true in the first four years of Series IIA production.
During 1968, a series of new Federal Standards relating to lighting, safety and exhaust emissions came into force in the USA. In order to meet these, Series IIA models destined for the USA (and Canada) were given certain special features. These included headlamps mounted on the wing fronts (not recessed, as on later models), special side and tail lamps and a unique emissions control system. The Federal 88s also had 15-inch wheels instead of the standard 16-inch size. These models were not given their own chassis numbering sequence but were numbered within the main LHD sequences. All had petrol engines, and most were probably Station Wagons. They are generally referred to as “Bugeye” models because of their unique headlamp location. Production figures are not known, but probably no more than a few hundred were made before recessed headlamps were introduced during 1969.
The long-wheelbase Land Rover switched to Series IIA specification at the same time as the short-wheelbase type. Station Wagons were always numbered in separate sequences (see below), and from 1966 a 2.6-litre six-cylinder petrol engine was made available alongside the 2.25-litre four-cylinder petrol and diesel types. This was a version of the one which had powered Rover saloons between 1959 and 1964, and was also used in the Forward Control models. Production of four-cylinder petrol models continued into 1972 to meet orders, but the diesels and six-cylinder IIAs went out of production when the Series III models were introduced in 1971. With the all-synchromesh gearbox on Suffix H models from February 1971 came a Salisbury rear axle. Production figures for the 109-inch utilities present certain problems, as those for CKD six-cylinder models have not survived. However, it is clear from the chassis numbers of surviving vehicles that there were at least 7001 RHD CKD six-cylinder vehicles. Adding these to the known totals, and excepting the One Ton and military APGP types, there were therefore at least 151,240 (144,239 recorded) 109-inch Series IIA utilities. Of these, at least 12,482 (8.3 percent) had six-cylinder engines and 31,168 (about 21 percent) were diesel-powered.
The 109-inch Station Wagon was introduced in 1961 alongside the utility models. Like them, it was an evolutionary development of the earlier Series II model. All the early models had 10 seats, but when Purchase Tax rules changed in the UK during 1962, the seating capacity was changed to a theoretical 12 by fitting inward-facing bench seats in the rear in place of the original twin foldaway seats. Six-cylinder engines, introduced in 1966, proved popular on the Station Wagons because their greater refinement suited the passenger-carrying duties of the vehicle. Note that the only CKD Station Wagons had diesel engines. Excluding the special NADA models (see below), there were 46,127 Series IIA 109 Station Wagons. Of these, 4,949 (10.7 percent) had the six-cylinder engine and 7,551 (16.4 percent) were diesels.
The 109-inch Airportable Land Rover was a special variant designed for the British Army and built in only small numbers before the project was abandoned. It was also known as the APGP (Airportable, General Purpose) model. Based on a standard Series IIA 109-inch chassis, the vehicle’s special rear body allowed the APGPs to be stacked one on top of the other in a transport aircraft. Stacking was a hazardous and time-consuming operation, involving removal of the rear tilt and hood sticks, clamping the springs and steering with a tiller. At the time, the Army was also interested in amphibious vehicles, and the 109-inch Airportable was adapted at the prototype stage to meet this requirement as well. The vehicle was first waterproofed. It was then made to float on large rubber airbags which were filled from the exhaust: initially, flat bags were used at the front, rear and on each side; later, twin side pontoon bags were used. Propulsion in the water was achieved by fitting a propellor to the rear propshaft, and a limited degree of steering was available from the vehicle’s own steered wheels. The project was eventually abandoned as impractical after just 28 “production” vehicles (plus a number of prototypes) had been built. All of them had four-cylinder petrol engines, although one (possibly one of the prototypes) was converted to use a gas turbine engine.
To meet a demand for more performance in the North American Dollar Area (NADA), Land Rover fitted a more powerful version of the 2.6-litre six-cylinder engine to the 109-inch Station Wagon. This engine had the state of tune used in the Rover 110 saloon, last built in 1964. The NADA Station Wagon had certain other special features, including an optional limited-slip differential at the rear. It was withdrawn in 1967 after just 811 had been made, because the cost of making its engine meet the new Federal regulations was prohibitive.
Airportability was the requirement behind the development of the Lightweight for the British Army. Existing 88-inch models were too wide to be carried two-abreast in the transport aircraft of the mid-1960s, and they were too heavy to be carried singly under the military helicopters then in service. The Lightweight was therefore developed on the existing 88-inch chassis with a narrower body to meet the first requirement. To meet the second, the body was made with demountable sections, so that the basic driveable vehicle could be heli-lifted without less vital body sections such as doors, upper rear panels, and so on. The result was a distinctive-looking, square-rigged vehicle. Ironically, new transport aircraft and new helicopters which entered service in the mid-1960s made both of the original requirements redundant, but the Army was impressed with the basic, stripped-down design of the Lightweight and standardised on it as its short-wheelbase Land Rover. All the early Lightweights had headlamps mounted in the grille panel. From 1969, the headlamps moved to the wings. There were just 2989 of these original Lightweights, all with the four-cylinder petrol engine. With the exception of vehicles retained by the factory for development and as demonstrators, all were delivered to the British Armed Forces.
A heavy-duty “One Ton” specification was made available on the 109-inch chassis in June 1969, with the lower transfer box gearing and 9.00 x 16 wheel-and-tyre combination pioneered on the Forward Control models (see below). These models also had “drop-shackle” springs, developed some years earlier for the Australian military and found on certain special conversions such as the Shorland Armoured Car after 1965. There were just 308 of these vehicles made, of which all had the six-cylinder petrol engine except for a batch of 22 four-cylinders built in 1970-1971.
The Forward Control models were developed as a way of increasing the loadspace within the existing Land Rover chassis length. By moving the cab forward and over the engine, room was created for a longer rear body. In order to give the vehicle a bigger payload of 30 cwt as well, the rear body was mounted on an additional sub-frame, welded on top of the main chassis frame. Larger tyres (9.00 x 16s) were also specified. Most Forward Controls had truck cabs with dropside lorry bodies, but there were also fixed-side and platform bodies. Many examples were specially bodied. The standard paint was always Mid-Grey. Just 3193 109-inch Forward Controls were built in four years. Most popular were the four-cylinder petrol types, of which 2091 examples (65 percent of the total) were made. Six-cylinder models were introduced in 1963 (when the Forward Control became the first production Land Rover to use the 2.6-litre engine), but were for export only. There were 1097 of them (34 percent). Just five of the underpowered diesel models were built, accounting for under one percent of the total.
A much-improved version of the Forward Control was introduced in 1966, overcoming many of the shortcomings of the original 109-inch Series IIA models. Minor adjustments resulted in a wheelbase of 110 inches, and these vehicles were known as Series IIB types – the only Land Rovers ever to carry that name. The Series IIB models had heavy-duty axles made by ENV (also available optionally on the final IIA models) with wider tracks to improve stability. Low ratio in the transfer box was lowered, and the gearchange and handbrake controls were relocated. The Series IIB could easily be recognised by its repositioned headlamps, which were lower down than on the Series IIA types. Standard paint was again Mid-Grey. Sales of the Series IIB were slow, and just 2305 were built in six years. Six-cylinder petrol engines were standard at home, the four-cylinder being relegated to an export-only option. There were 1254 six-cylinders (54.4 percent) and 527 four-cylinders (22.9 percent). Diesels were also available in quantity, and 524 were built. The body options were the same as for the Series IIA models, but several Series IIBs were supplied in chassis-cab form to be built up as fire tenders by HCB-Angus.