Classic Wheels: 1966 Land Rover Series IIA

1966 Land Rover Series IIA

Many vintage vehicle owners love their classic cars for their beautiful lines. Think the 1937 Lincoln Zephyr, 1956 Corvette or 1966 Jaguar XKE. 

But Alex Wilcox Cheek of Cold Spring appreciates his 1966 Land Rover Series IIA for a very different reason. 

“As a designer, I think people assume I’d like a more stylized car,” Cheek says. “The iconic Rovers are the opposite of that. There are no curves at all — form and function are entirely one.”

Driving the Rover, he says, requires undivided attention. “You can’t be on your phone or have any distractions. My Volvo practically drives itself; driving the Rover is a focused and engaging experience.”

While a 1966 Jaguar owner would probably prefer a spin on the thruway, Cheek finds the Rover is more at home on a dirt road. “There’s no power anything, just lights, signals and a horn,” he says. “The air conditioning is two flaps below the windscreen that you prop open.” The flaps at least have bug screens.

Cheek says the Rover’s 2.25-liter, 4-cylinder engine and 4-speed manual transmission leave it underpowered. “Overdrive didn’t appear for another couple of years, so once I’m in fourth gear, that’s it,” he says.

In 1966, the vehicle could achieve 70 mph, but Cheek has not pushed his past 50. “I can’t imagine 70 being possible,” he says. 

The odometer reads 13,500 miles but has turned over at least once. The paint is the original pastel green, the same used on the first Land Rovers produced 75 years ago. “I always kept my eye out for this very specific model, an 88-inch wheelbase in this color,” Cheek recalls. “I took the roof off and added the canvas top.”

The Rover was in rough shape when he bought it during the pandemic for $17,000; it came with a box of the parts that had fallen off over the years. But, he says, it was not hard to work on.

“Everything is easily accessible; if you need to get under the car without crawling under it, you just pull out the seat and open the panels,” he says, adding that the Rover has always started with a key but he can use a crank if necessary.

He has been restoring the vehicle himself but hired a mechanic for the brakes, brake lines and steering.

Finding replacement parts can be a challenge for many vintage vehicles, but not so the Rover. One of North America’s largest Rover parts suppliers is in Vermont, and the design changed little between 1948 and 1985.

The Specs

Model: 1966 Land Rover Series IIA
Manufactured: Solihull, England
Number built: 17,300
Years built: 1948-85
Engine: 2.25-liter straight 4-cylinder
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Original price: $2,775

When Cheek drives it in the village, the Rover gets noticed. “Once I received a formal British Army salute from a guy on the sidewalk as I rattled my way up Main Street,” he recalls. 

He is now looking for another Rover, one from the 1990s. Deciding to sell his 1966 model has proven serendipitous. 

Cheek’s Rover came with documentation. It was purchased new by Jonathan Bulkley in New England and earned a mention in his 2019 obituary: “In August 1968, with his wife and 3-month-old son plus two cats, he drove an old-style Land Rover to Ann Arbor, Michigan.” Bulkley owned the vehicle for 47 years.

After listing the vehicle for sale online, Cheek received an email from Ryan Reidy, a prospective buyer in St. Louis. Bulkley was his wife’s great-uncle and Reidy says when he saw the ad, he thought, “Oh my God, that’s the same car!” Reidy and his wife had visited Bulkley in Ann Arbor and ridden in the Rover. 

A deal was quickly struck. Reidy will pick up the Rover later this month.

“Sending the Rover back to the family of the man who loved it so much seems like the perfect ending for me,” Cheek says. “I was just a temporary caretaker in the car’s long story.”

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