ORIGINAL LAND-ROVER SERIES I: the Restorers Guide to all civil and military models 1948-58
by James Taylor.
Bayview Books, 1996, 128 pages, $34.95, ISBN 1-870979-72-9
Land Rover expert James Taylor has written a most complete and informative guide to the Series One, and it will be most welcomed by all Land Rover enthusiasts. The hardbound 128-page book is in coffee-table-book format, and very handsomely produced with over 200 excellent photographs of various Series Ones and their details. This is one in a Bay View Original series of excellent books on authenticity in various classic cars from Austin Healey to Volkswagen. The Series One owner now has at his disposal the perfect guide for restoring his vehicle to very high standards of authenticity.
Taylor covers every model and many variations, including the 80, 86, 107, 88, 109, as well as station wagons, fire engines, and Minerva and Tempo variants. He describes in really amazing detail the original features and components of all the systems, including drive train, body, electrical, brakes, etc. Clear photos illustrate most of the detail features that are unfamiliar to us American readers and owners! Also helpful is the use of chassis numbers to identify when a certain component began, changed or ended. The inclusion of a detailed breakdown of each models engine, axle and gearbox numbers is a great help in identifying the originality of ones vehicle. Vehicles can be altered considerably over time, especially in the United States where new parts are increasingly difficult to obtain.
The book includes short sections on the export versions of each model, detailing the differences between those sold in the United States, Australia and Canada. The information on American models seems quite accurate, and confirms my own extensive experience with Series Ones. In fact, this book represents the first time that I have seen the American differences accurately and usefully spelled out. As a Series One owner, I find the book extremely useful. Details that I have struggled for years to document are all clearly and helpfully presented here, as well as plenty of other information that is new to me. Since most Series Ones in the United States have been heavily modified over the years, Taylors book is invaluable for documenting what a model originally looked like (and essential to the restorer).
There are a couple of minor errors in some relatively small details, but the text was carefully checked by the Series One Club in the United Kingdom, so the overall production is very accurate. Just about the only thing lacking is an index. And the subtitle can be a bit misleading. While called a restorers guide, this is definitely not a step-by- step how to manual. (Nor is it a general history of early Land Rovers.) It is rather a feature-by-feature guide to the original shape of the models, with special attention to detail. While the photographs by Rowan Isaac (all especially commissioned for this book) are excellent, some might fault the general approach. There are no before-and-after restoration shots, and practically no before shots at all, which affords the restorer no independent verification that the restored models in the illustrations are indeed accurate. But these flaws are very minor considerations in an otherwise superb book.
James Taylors latest is indispensable for the Series One owner. It is also highly commendable to any Land Rover owner or enthusiast. Definitely one of the best Land Rover titles yet to roll off the presses.
Review by John Hanna
Reprinted from the Solihull Society Newsletter, November/December 1996