1949 Land Rover 81"
Lot 306
Rolls-Royce Engined,1950 Land Rover 81" Prototype Chassis no. RO61 04618 Engine no. 596
Sold for £47,150 (US$ 79,203) inc. premium
Lot Details
Rolls-Royce Engined
1950 Land Rover 81" Prototype
Registration no. TAB 767
Chassis no. RO61 04618
Engine no. 596


  • Inspired by the wartime Jeep, the first Land Rover inherited its 80" wheelbase from the American 4x4 but the early example offered here has a wheelbase of 81", the 'stretch' being necessary to accommodate a 2.8-litre Rolls-Royce B40 engine. This unusual Land Rover variant resulted from the Army's need to evaluate alternative designs of 4x4 vehicle alongside what would become known as the Austin Champ. The latter used the B40 engine and Rover was asked to provide Land Rovers fitted with this power unit for testing together with standard 1,595cc models. Rover commissioned Hudson Motors Ltd to perform the conversion and approximately 34 B40-engined Land Rovers were completed. As well as the 1" increase in wheelbase, achieved by moving the rear spring mounts, the transplant involved extensive modifications to the chassis, transmission and cooling system. It was also found necessary to raise the bonnet slightly and cut a hole in the front to clear the radiator cap. In the event, the B40-engined Land Rover did not enter series production and of the 34-or-so made only that offered here and one other are known to survive with the Rolls-Royce engine still installed.

    Chassis number 'RO61 04618' was constructed in January 1950 and in 1953 was sold by the Ministry of Defence to renowned compressor manufacturers Belliss & Morcom (still in existence today) for use at their factory in Birmingham. In 1957 the vehicle was bought by a Birmingham garage owner and given the Worcestershire registration 'TAB 767'. Used very little, it next changed hands in 1977, passing to Ian Sparks of Birmingham who painstakingly restored it over the next year-or-so. At this time a total of only 5,756 miles was recorded on the odometer.

    Over the next two years 'TAB 767' won numerous concours awards and was the subject of two articles written by Tony Hutchings (East Hampshire Post and Off Road and 4 Wheel Driver, copies on file). It was acquired by the Patrick Collection in 1985. Last MoT'd/taxed in 2007, the vehicle is described as in generally very good condition, although suffering from an intermittent misfire. A total of 6,905 miles in currently displayed on the odometer. Accompanying documentation consists of the aforementioned press cuttings, sundry invoices, a quantity of expired MoTs and Swansea V5 document.
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