Mar­ket News

Valu­able ad­vice on how you could af­ford a Se­ries model

Land Rover Monthly - - Contents -

LAND ROVERS that left the Soli­hull works on leaf springs have been ap­pre­ci­at­ing in value big time in the last two decades. It started with early 80in Se­ries Is, then spread like wild­fire, with all Se­ries Is quickly at­tain­ing classic sta­tus – and prices to match. Then, as the sup­ply of sen­si­bly-priced Se­ries Is di­min­ished, de­mand shifted to the Se­ries IIS and Se­ries IIIS.

Al­though I’m never en­tirely com­fort­able see­ing ven­er­a­ble work­horses be­com­ing col­lec­tors’ mu­seum pieces (I’d rather see them on the road, as ev­ery­day run­ners), I have to con­cede that the new-found sta­tus and mon­e­tary value of SIIS, IIAS and IIIS has saved many of these old war­riors from be­ing run into the ground and lost for­ever. And that ap­plies to first-gen­er­a­tion Range Rovers, too – along with any other Land Rover mod­els now get­ting long in tooth.

But Bri­tish en­thu­si­asts of­ten for­get that it wasn’t just Soli­hull that pro­duced great Land Rovers back in the day. Se­ries mod­els in kit form – com­monly known as CKD (com­pletely knocked down) – were as­sem­bled abroad from very early days of pro­duc­tion. These can of­ten be picked up at bar­gain prices.

Take the Bel­gian Min­erva, for ex­am­ple. Like Rover, this com­pany started in the late 19th cen­tury by build­ing bi­cy­cles, fol­lowed in the early 20th cen­tury by cars. Pro­duc­tion at the com­pany’s An­twerp fac­tory ceased dur­ing the Nazi oc­cu­pa­tion in the se­cond world war, but in the post­war years the com­pany won a con­tract to build mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles for the Bel­gian Army.

In 1951 Min­erva en­tered dis­cus­sions with both Land Rover and Willys, builder of the US Jeep, but the 80in Se­ries I im­pressed them most and in 1952 an or­der was placed for 2500 CKD kits that in­cluded chas­sis, en­gines, trans­mis­sion gear and axles. The body pan­els, how­ever, were made of steel in Min­erva’s own fac­tory. Un­for­tu­nately, the Bel­gians didn’t have so­phis­ti­cated body presses, so were un­able to em­u­late the curved front wing of the Land Rover. In­stead, they had an­gu­lar, slop­ing front wings.

Sev­eral of these dis­tinc­tive ve­hi­cles ended up in Bri­tain, and can of­ten be found on ebay. The one pic­tured here is in great con­di­tion and is for sale at £5950 – a frac­tion of the price you’d ex­pect to pay for an 80in Se­ries I. It has just 52,305 miles on the clock – re­mark­able for a ve­hi­cle built in 1954! Re­cently im­ported from the Nether­lands, it still boasts its orig­i­nal 2.0-litre Land Rover en­gine, too.

From the same era, but much less com­mon, is the Tempo, an­other CKD kit-built Land Rover, but this time for the West Ger­man bor­der po­lice (Bun­des­gren­zschutz). Just 328 were known to have been built be­tween 1953 and 1959. At the time of writ­ing, I was un­able to find any for sale, any­where, but if you do find one ex­pect to pay much the same price as you would pay for a Min­erva.

But the most fa­mous for­eign-built Land Rover was the San­tana. From 1958 it was as­sem­bled un­der li­cence in south­ern Spain from CKD kits shipped out from Soli­hull. Un­like the Min­erva and Tempo, it was hugely suc­cess­ful and sold in much greater num­bers. In fact, it was so suc­cess­ful that from 1968 the com­pany be­gan to diverge from Land Rover, de­vel­op­ing new mod­els of its own. Al­though San­tana’s agree­ment with Land Rover of­fi­cially ended in 1983, it con­tin­ued to build leaf-sprung Se­ries Iii-looka­likes pow­ered by Iveco en­gines through to the 1990s.

If you type 'San­tana' into ebay you will get the choice of tens of thou­sands of CDS from the band fronted by the le­gendary gui­tarist Car­los San­tana… plus one or two ex­am­ples of the le­gendary San­tana 4x4s. The best I found at the time of writ­ing this was on the Catawiki site – a stun­ning 1982 88in with just 7800 kilo­me­tres (4847 miles). It looks like a Se­ries III fresh from the fac­tory – an il­lu­sion helped by the fact that it shares the same dis­tinc­tive plas­tic ra­di­a­tor grille as its Soli­hull coun­ter­part. It also has a 2.25 Land Rover diesel en­gine.

Bid­ding had reached £6527 – a re­mark­able price for a ve­hi­cle in time warp con­di­tion. The only snag is that it is in Santa Ponsa on the Span­ish is­land of Ma­jorca. But hav­ing spent a plea­sur­able fort­night in that sun-kissed hol­i­day re­sort a few years ago, I can rec­om­mend a break there fol­lowed by a ferry cross­ing to the main­land and a leisurely drive home through Spain and France. Just a thought…

Both the Bel­gian Min­erva and Span­ish San­tana make Se­ries I own­er­ship af­ford­able

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