The Big-Wheeled Land Rover Story

The Big-Wheeled Land Rover Story

The mighty 1-Ton Land Rover

In the early 60s Land Rover was a well adapted brand and was using its momentum to pursue new markets. The demand for a high capacity Land Rover took the brand into a few directions. The 1-ton was to have been an all-round high capacity vehicle to  be used by utility companies and service professionals all around the world. This vision never fully came to fruition, and the 1-ton Land Rover became a popular icon amongLand Rover enthusiasts and collectors worldwide.

The 1-ton Land Rover was characterized by its massive 900-16 tyres, which by today’s standard compare to a 34″ tyre. As the name suggests, it was made to carry a one tonne load in the form of cargo in the load bed or with chassis-mounted equipment. The most popular equipment included a cherry picker and a recovery hook both. The additional equipment was in most cases PTO powered. 

To accommodate the 900-16 tyres, Land Rover chose to use a military style chassis with extended spring hangers combined with longer spring shackles. Further modification had to be made to the steering. The 1-ton used a heavy duty steering box. To maintain the steering radius, high offset wheels also had to be used. Further, stronger ENV and Salisbury axles were fitted to the front and rear. Power was delivered by a Rover 2.6 liter 6-cylinder engine, which was transferred by a low geared 1-ton gearbox.

The 1-ton never did hit the mass market, and only a couple hundred vehicles were actually produced and delivered. Many replicas have been made, but to find a genuine 1-ton nowadays is almost impossible. They are known to have served in several European countries, including the UK, Greece and Portugal, but like many Land Rovers, they were destined to rot away or be broken apart. Fewer than hundred 1-ton Land Rovers are believed to have survived.  

The unicorn Rover. Everything regarding the 1-ton has become collectible and hard to find. 1-ton high offset wheels are probably the most desired Land Rover wheel. The ENV axles are as precious as gold, and the steering box is impossible to find. All of these facts have just made the 1-ton even more desirable for collectors. Even well made 1-ton replicas are getting attention, as they always stand out from a crowd of other Landies, especially for the well trained eye of a Land Rover enthusiast and collector.  

By Vladimir Stec, owner at Heyus 

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Sources of images:
Land-Rover: Series I, II, IIA & III by James Taylor