By the time the US Army's wartime 'Jeep', it was developed quickly developed and intended for short-term, small-scale production. At launch it was met by initial scepticism but the success of it took the company by surprise.

Necessity is the mother of invention and, when war came to an end, small farmers such as Maurice Wilks needed a new light multi-purpose vehicle. It would have to drag a trailer-load of hay cross-country, power a small sawmill, plough a field, take a few sheep to market and milk churns to meet the lorry, or ferry the family to church.

The war had made mechanisation normal and near-essential, and war-surplus Jeeps or cut-down pre-war Austin Sevens and Ford Eights were only a stop-gap. What made Wilks different was that, as well as running a farm, he was chief designer at Rover – where his brother Spencer was MD.

Maurice used a Jeep on his farm, but it was worn out and there was no alternative: the brothers suddenly saw a gap in the market. A Rover for the land must be a Land-Rover, and in no time a prototype devised by Gordon Bashford was under test.

To make the vehicle more useful than a Jeep, it would have power take-offs to drive machinery and effective weather equipment. A year after having the idea, the first cars were unveiled.

With a limited budget, restricted steel allocation and minimal press tools, the Land-Rover’s simple square shape was enforced – yet softened just enough to give it an endearing character.

Tooling and steel availability led to the chassis being welded up from four strips of flat plate, a surprisingly successful method that continued for decades on SWB models.

Despite the Land-Rover having a much smaller engine than the Jeep, development ensured that it was just as capable off-road and considerably more versatile.

Just 25 pre-production cars had been built by the time of its ’48 launch – which brought an overwhelming reaction. Motoring writers were astonished by the vehicle’s adaptability, which was beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. It cost only £450: passenger seats, doors, a spare tyre and a starting handle were optional extras at first, but were soon included. Rover had to rapidly gear up its plans for production, and never looked back.

The original 1.6-litre petrol engine was soon superseded by a 2.0-litre unit (for 1952) and the company set about developing its own diesel, which was first offered in 1956. Ruggedly built and simple in construction, the Land Rover proved capable of surviving in countries where conditions were primitive to say the least, a virtue that helped contribute to its worldwide acceptance. Indeed, it is estimated that two-thirds of all Land Rovers ever produced are still in existence today. In the course of more than 60 years in production the supremely versatile Land Rover would prove itself adaptable to innumerable civilian and military roles.

An original UK-delivered right-hand drive example, it was first registered in September 1957. It is believed to have had a prior restoration at some point in its life. It has been owned by the vendor for nearly five years, covering some 1,500 miles in that period but due to in operative speedo the mileage cannot be verified. From paperwork and MOT’s we estimate the mileage to be 110,000 miles.

The car had a colour change from Green to Grey in 1985 and the paintwork is described as being in fair condition by the owner. There are numerous scuffs and chips, but it is an eminently serviceable finish. There is no evidence of any significant corrosion, with only slight surface rusting to trim elements such as the hinges for the bonnet and doors. The door cards all look like original as they match the blue seats that are typically in the station wagons of this era

Inside the Land Rover, the seating does need to be re-upholstered as they look like the original seats. The rest of the cabin wears its age, with scruffy paint to the dashboard and some tarnishing of the original instrument dial surrounds and switchgear. We understand that all of the electrical functions work as they should.

Subject of an older restoration, this Series I is in sound structural and mechanical condition.

1957 Series one 88 inch 7 seater station wagon Land Rover. Presently wearing its summer canvas top. The hard top s/w rear door and all bracketry are with the vehicle and a picture is shown on the listing.

The Land Rover is totally honest, its appearance and condition tell its own story.

In the world of classic Land Rovers, less really does mean more – at least in terms of asking prices. It’s hard to imagine a vehicle much more basic than a 1948-58 Series I, and yet these are the models that often command the highest prices. Yes, this is a restoration project but for someone with the time and enthusiasm this could make a fantastic example. Fully restored examples in superb order are easily topping £30,000 – which makes the value of this impressively renovated Series I perfectly realistic in today’s market. For the Series I fan looking for a show-worthy example, it’s the ideal choice.

This Land Rover would make a terrific useable classic as-is - for pure enjoyment or as utility transport. Alternatively, its solid condition means it would also make a superb base from which to commission a full cosmetic restoration, should a new owner so desire.

The description of this auction lot is, to the best of the seller's knowledge, accurate and not misleading. Zoo Auctions completes all of the details about the lot from the seller, and we perform a level of due diligence through HPI checks and MOT history where available. However, it is the bidder’s responsibility to satisfy themselves as to the accuracy of the description and complete any checks they feel is necessary before bidding on an auction. Please see our Terms and Conditions for full details.

All Cars are checked through an online HPI check. This vehicle shows no insurance database markers for damage or theft and has no finance owing