This long wheelbase 1955 Land Rover Series I is an authentic ex-Royal Air Force “Aircraft Crash Rescue Vehicle” that was used by Marshall of Cambridge at an airfield not too far from the famous university of the same name.
Now known as Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, the company trained over 20,000 aircrew for service with the Royal Air Force during WWII and undertook a vast array of aircraft modifications and repairs during and after the war.
Fast Facts – An Ex-RAF Land Rover Series I
- The Land Rover Series I was developed by Maurice Wilks, Rover’s chief designer, as a cross-between a Jeep-like 4×4 and a farm tractor – incorporating the best features of both into a single affordable vehicle.
- The Series I was given a four-cylinder engine with a power take-off (PTO) for powering farm equipment. It had a steel ladder type chassis and a steel bulkhead, but most of the rest of the body was made from aluminum alloy left over from Britain’s WWII aircraft building effort.
- The first Land Rover was only meant to be in production for a few years as a stopgap effort after WWII however it proved so enduringly popular that it remained in production, in a variety of updated forms, for 70+ years.
- The Series I you see here was set up as an aircraft crash rescue vehicle and used by the RAF in Cambridge, it was restored a couple of years ago and it’s now due to roll across the auction block with Silverstone Auctions on the 12th of November.
The Land Rover And The British Armed Forces
The Land Rover Series I was almost instantly adopted by the British Armed Forces, with the first major delivery taking place in 1949, just a year after the introduction of the model. The Series I would compete with the Austin Champ for military orders and ultimately win, the Champ disappeared and Land Rovers remain serving in Britain to the modern day.
As a British equivalent to the American-made Jeep, the Land Rover quickly became the de facto 4×4 in use by both the British Army and the Royal Air Force, and the Royal Navy too in some capacities.
Special versions of the Land Rover were soon developed to meet certain military requirements, like the “Airportable” Lightweight that was developed to be airlifted by helicopter and the Forward Control Land Rovers that were developed for cargo carrying and a multitude of other uses.
Late model Land Rover Defenders remain in service today, though as they reach the end of their life cycles they’ll need to be replaced with a new non-Land Rover vehicle – as the classic body-on-frame Defender was discontinued in 2016 for a new more luxurious model ill-suited for military use.
The Ex-RAF Rescue Land Rover Shown Here
This long wheelbase 1955 Series I has the popular pickup truck configuration that was much-loved by farmers and tradesmen. It’s said to have been issued to the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1956, then converted into an Aircraft Crash Rescue Vehicle in 1959.
After its conversion it then went to work with the Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, then called Marshall of Cambridge, who worked with the RAF on many post-WWII aircraft conversion and modification projects.
A couple of years ago the vehicle found its way into the possession of a lifelong Land Rover enthusiast who completed a full restoration back to its correct and original RAF rescue configuration.
It’s now due to roll across the auction block with Silverstone Auctions with a price guide of £15,000 – £20,000 or approximately $16,860 – $22,480 USD. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Silverstone Auctions
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