Rover chief engineer Maurice Wilks was inspired by his army-surplus Willys-Overland Jeep to create a workhorse vehicle for military and agricultural use – and for export abroad to kick-start both Rover’s fortunes and the national economy after World War II. Prototypes were up and running by late 1947, and production of the Series I began at Solihull in summer 1948. It had permanent four-wheel-drive with low-ratio gearing and a locking freewheel mechanism, and a 50bhp, 1.6-litre engine from the Rover P3 saloon. It was fitted with lightweight body panels made from surplus aircraft-grade aluminium – steel was in short supply post-war – and came with army-surplus green paint. The Land Rover price started from just £450. Supply to the British forces started in 1949, the Land Rover replacing the Austin Champ and later, the rust-prone Austin Gipsy. Deliveries to organisations such as the Red Cross soon followed. The 100,000th Land Rover was made in autumn 1954 and by 1958, production ran to around 200,000.
Due to their capabilities they were a natural choice for use by the Post Office, where Land Rovers were used both in tows and rural communities.