Few automotive brands can stand by the claim that 70% of their vehicles produced are still in use today. For Land Rover, their legendary utility vehicles have traversed the globe with determination in search of adventure and discovery. The “Go anywhere” vehicle, the original Land Rover Series I, developed a reputation for a lineage of vehicles that would navigate the earth through harsh-terrain territories throughout the world.
The original Land Rover started life in prototype form as the Center Steer. The prototype was a three seat Land Rover with a center driving position, capable of traversing terrain at a safe operating angle of 30 degrees. The three front seats were carried over to the production version, but the driver position was moved to right hand drive. The original Land Rover 80-inch Series 1 was produced from 1948 until 1951. It was equipped with a 1.6 liter 50 horsepower engine and featured a 4-speed gearbox and 2-speed transfer box. The original vehicle featured dual headlights mounted behind the grill, which were moved in front of the grill beginning in 1950.
For such a legendary model, Minichamps has replicated some of the original Land Rover’s unique features. These include the fold down windshield, removable plastic-molded canvas top, removable upper doors and windows, removable spare wheel and tire, and a removable metal engine cover. Fully assembled, the Minichamps Land Rover captures the spirit and heart of the original Land Rover. The model has many molded in place details, such as rivets, steel plates, and hinges, but Minichamps packed a lot of depth and detail into these forms and painted these forms with precision and no overspray or bleeding on the actual production model I received.
While the hood is diecast and removable, the latches are molded rubber pieces that serve no functional purpose to hold the cover to the body of the Land Rover. Additionally, while Minichamps included a spare wheel and tire, it just rests unsecured on the hood or in the rear cargo area of the Land Rover. As these models will most likely be sitting in a collectors display case, this will probably not pose a problem unless you plan to take your model off-roading throughout the rough terrain of your backyard. The canvas top is a single molded plastic piece, and it is replicated well and looks great on the model. The flat finish prevents too much glare that plastic can sometimes generate and Minichamps is to be commended for this. Unfortunately the rear cargo hatch doesn’t open, although they packed enough detail into the molded pieces to make it look as if it does.
Aside from some of these annoyances with the model, the model is solidly built, and has an excellent paint and finish. Shut lines are tight, and the interior is nicely detailed, as one would expect on a model with such as highly visible interior. The original Land Rover had three front seats as depicted in this model, which carried over from the original prototype Land Rover Center Steer. The engine detail looks nice, with just enough detail to so that it doesn’t look like its just some molded pieces. Minichamps did a great job on the fine mesh grill mounted over the dual headlights and a single Land Rover badge on the top center.
The steel wheels are also replicated well with prototypically correct front and rear different wheels. The tires are generic no-brand tires, but look nice and capture the stance of the original Land Rover, which could traverse the earth at a safe operating angle of 30 degrees. The undercarriage is a single molded piece and includes the leaf springs, frame, front and rear transaxles and exhaust system.
Minichamps’ 1948 Land Rover Series 1 is a well-executed model for the price, especially when you consider other static resin models selling for similar or higher prices and the fact that this is the only Land Rover Series 1 in 1:18 scale at this level of detail right now. The overall presentation is nice and the model looks great in the display case. It is nice to have this model produced in 1:18 scale at this caliber of craftsmanship and I for one look forward to other versions and model years of the Land Rover line up from Minichamps should they decide to produce them.