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1952 80” Royal Air Force Land Rover Series I celebrates RAF centenary year

A unique 1952 former Royal Air Force Land Rover Series I will go on display at Land Rover Legends for the very first time since it’s recent ‘barn find’ discovery.

Discovered in a Gloucestershire barn, where it lay since 1979, the vehicle is subject to a ‘rolling’ restoration and work remains in progress as much of the vehicle’s original paint was stripped off, obliterating any tell-tale allusions to the cars history. The finish is attempted to replicate the condition of the RAF vehicle as a glider tow vehicle and not intended to be in a Concours condition.

Unlike Army examples, early records of ex-RAF Land Rovers have been lost in time, so detailed information of allocations within the RAF from 1952 right up to the early 1960s are unknown, making a tough task of the ongoing restoration efforts.

Work includes removing the rear body section, cleaning and preparation of running gear with overhaul where necessary and finishing of the chassis. Painting of remaining body panels and adding appropriate RAF emblems and markings. The car has also had the correct 1997cc ‘Siamese 2ltr’ engine unit fitted. The rebuilt gearbox is a military replacement. A stainless petrol tank is now fitted along with correct pattern side screens & doors.

The incorrect ‘lights through the grill’ is believed to be an ex-Military of Defence replacement, as with many such vehicles, few original replacement parts or panels are supplied. The rear floor is ‘absent’ after its conversion to accommodate towing Gliders with Combined Cadet Forces.

Unusually this vehicle was kept beyond typical disposal periods of about 10 years to be converted to glider tow work for glider training mainly with Air Training Corps and Combined Cadet Force units across the United Kingdom.

The display comes in a special year for the RAF, as it celebrates its centenary. Particularly poignant still is the location of the show, Bicester Heritage. The former RAF Bicester site on which Bicester Heritage is now based is of national historic importance. Neglected for the best part of 40 years, it was added to Historic England’s ‘At Risk Register’ in 2008 and designated the most ‘at risk’ of all Defence Estates in the UK.

A beautiful 420 acre former WW2 RAF Bomber Training Station acts as ‘marina-like’ cluster, promoting skills and expertise, employment, qualified customer footfall, shared business incubation and aggregate growth. Collectively, Bicester Heritage is all about driving the future of the past.

Land Rover is synonymous with military service as most of its vehicles were, and continue to be, adapted as workhorses around the globe for the Armed Forces.

The RAF-liveried Land Rover Series 1 will be displayed exclusively at Land Rover Legends next month at Bicester Heritage. Tickets for the event are available now, for more information please visit: