Howdens Series 1 Land Rovers

We have recently refurbished and restored two 1949 Series 1 Land Rovers, which will be showcased at our depots across the country.

History of Howdens branded Land Rovers

Vehicle: HTM 64 was first registered on 30th December 1949 and has only had two prior owners. It has been kept in outstanding condition with the majority of the interior still looking like new. 

When it was first purchased this vehicle did not have seatbelts; as they became mandatory in 1983, we have recently had them fitted, along with a full refurbishment and rebrand.

Vehicle: JRU 236 has only had two previous owners and spent 11 years in a small motor museum in Ireland. It has a R061 chassis number, which confirms it is a Series 1. It was manufactured on 26th September 1949, probably in Solihull and first registered on 1st October 1949.

This Land Rover has taken part in several rallies including the historic 60 mile London to Brighton Veteran car run, as the plaque on the vehicle testifies.

This vehicle also did not have indicators or seatbelts. Indicators did not become mandatory until 1965, and seatbelts have been fitted to comply with UK law.

It is a classic example of an early "twin window" canvas and "lights behind the grill" Series 1 Land Rover.

Restoration and refurbishment

Both vehicles were restored and refurbished by Land Rover expert John Brown 4x4 Ltd; home of the largest indoor collection of quality Classic Land Rovers in the UK.


Once the re-spray was complete, Jon Leeson from Letter Knight began the process of signwriting the Land Rovers, using traditional techniques passed down from his father and grandfather.

The design is first drawn onto tracing paper, before being punched out in small holes. The paper is then applied to the Land Rover and dusted with chalk, transferring the design to the vehicles before being painted by hand. The entire process took three days for both vehicles.

Watch the vehicles going through the signwriting process here.

General history of the Land Rover Series 1


The Land Rover was conceived by the Rover Motor Company in 1946 during the aftermath of World War II. Rover's usual luxury cars were not in demand in the immediate post-war period and raw materials were strictly rationed, so the company had to look at alternative vehicle production.

Maurice Wilks, Rover's chief designer, came up with a plan to produce a light agricultural and utility vehicle with an emphasis on agricultural use. He famously sketched his original design in the sand on Anglesey beach for his brother Spencer, who was managing director of the Rover Company.


The prototype Land Rover was developed in 1947 and had a distinctive feature - the steering wheel was mounted in the middle of the vehicle; it hence became known as the "centre steer".


Land Rover entered production in 1948 with what was later termed the Series 1.

Originally based on the US Army Jeep, the Land Rover was a single model offering, which from 1948 - 1951 used an 80" wheelbase and a 1.6-litre petrol engine, producing around 50bhp.

The bodywork was hand-made from surplus aircraft-grade aluminum called Birmabright, to save on steel, which was closely rationed. Paint was also in short supply, resulting in the first production vehicles making use of Army surplus green paint.


This was a basic vehicle; tops for the doors and a roof (canvas or metal) were optional extras. In 1950, the lights moved from a position behind the grille to protruding through the grille.

Although the Land Rover was only scheduled to be in production for 2-3 years to re-finance and re-stabilise the Rover Company it has gone on to launch several models of varying 'luxury' through the years and became so successful that it remained in production for over 60 years until the last one rolled off the production line in 2015.