There’s the paint, the famous Deep Bronze Green (also known as Ascot Green), and beneath that, where sixty years of weather and use have thinned it out like a battered Matchbox car, there’s nothing – no primer, just bare Birmabright, the typical Land Rover alloy of aluminum, magnesium and manganese from Birmingham, where it was produced mainly for aircraft construction during World War II. Unlike other aluminum alloys, such as Duralumin, Birmabright does not harden with age and is particularly resistant to seawater corrosion. The alloy is rather unsuitable for machine fabrication, however, so automotive engineer Maurice Wilks looked at body styles that could be easily cut and formed by hand. Steel was not available, and existing quotas were allocated to established companies that exported abroad. This was the situation when Land Rover launched its first series, based on the chassis of the reliable Willys Jeep, of which there were many cruising around the British countryside at the time.
The 86 model, built starting in 1953, freed itself from the American platform with the now-famous ladder frame, welded together from strips of sheet metal, and a wheelbase extended, as the name implies, to 86 inches. Our model was delivered to Australia in 1955 – CKD, which stands for “completely knocked down”. Good thing Land Rover had a subsidiary in Sydney that assembled all the parts according to factory specifications.