nothing
Cart Summary

0 items in your cart

Your cart is empty.

Subtotal: $0.00

CHECKOUT NOW

COVID-19 - We're in this together. UPDATE: We're open and taking orders. New curbside pickup available. Read More
Search Shopping Cart
Atlantic British Logo

800-533-2210

We're available now! Or Email Us

Sign in to my account

I forgot my password. Checkout as a Guest

70 Years Ago, The Land Rover Came To America

  • Greg Fitzgerald
  • Apr 17, 2020

Rootes Land Rover Series I Advertisement

Seventy years ago, in April 1950, the British Automobile & Motor Cycle Show was held at the Grand Central Palace in New York City. Among the models exhibited was the Land Rover, which had not been formally imported to the United States at this point, though some had been sold in Canada. This marked the beginning of high-volume Land Rover sales in the United States.

Though the Land Rover had been launched in mid-1948 and was already making a foothold in the global market by 1949, the North American market was a curious outlier. Generally, Land Rovers were sold through a shared distribution channel with Rover passenger cars, although as time went on, some dealers would only sell one or the other while others sold both. In 1948, Rover did not have a distribution network in North America and set about attempting to build one.

They set their sights first on Canada, partially due to its ties to the British Empire – a key element in the Land Rover’s early global spread and success. Dealers were established in Winnipeg and Toronto by June 1948. By 1949, further dealers had been established in Montreal and Vancouver. If Americans were interested in purchasing a Land Rover, they were directed to do so via the Vancouver dealership – not exactly convenient for most people.

This scratch-built distribution model was not particularly effective, however, when Rover Group was still a company digging out of World War II an ocean away. Thus, Rover looked to other distributors to carry the Land Rover and Rover passenger car marques. Their solution came with the Rootes Group, a competing automaker in Britain which had made much larger inroads into North America. Rootes was known for a variety of iconic British marques, including Hillman, Humber, Singer, Sunbeam, Talbot, Commer, and Karrier. They had established North American distribution offices in New York and Toronto in 1947 and were ahead of Rover in developing a dealer network, with over 300 outlets at the time of the agreement.

This new relationship was announced at the New York British Automobile & Motorcycle Show, held from April 15-23, 1950. A fully-built Land Rover Series I 80" was on display at the Rootes stand, alongside a rolling chassis, which displayed the workings of the truck's capable drivetrain.

This new relationship would lead to greatly increased Land Rover sales, and the network would grow further for 1951. There were now hundreds of Land Rover distributors in the United States and Canada. Unlike today's sleek, corporate-branded dealerships, many early Land Rovers were sold at service stations, farm equipment stores, and import vehicle dealers that sold many European brands, none in large volume. The high number of dealerships compared to the sales in the period suggests not every dealer moved a Land Rover out the door that frequently; there were five dealerships in Manhattan alone in 1951, selling a vehicle that at that point was probably not that popular in New York City.

This new relationship helped Land Rover sales skyrocket, relatively, in America. In 1950, 89 trucks would be sold (75 in Canada, 14 in the USA -- some early trucks being sold under the old system), and then in 1951, a whopping 673 would be sold (321 Canadian, 352 USA). Sales remained modest, but consistent, with a few hundred trucks sold every year.

The Rootes relationship continued until 1958, when Rover was on a significantly stronger footing, and started their own distribution network, with a North American headquarters in Long Island City, Queens, New York. Thus, the Series II Land Rover was sold by Rover Group themselves.

So, this week finds us at the 70th anniversary of Land Rover sales in the United States, in a roundabout way. They were not continuous years, and there was a small number of sales earlier on, but April 1950 marks the beginning of a concerted, widespread effort to sell the Land Rover in what eventually became one of its largest markets.

Sources:
https://www.nasor.org/NA_80inch.pdf
https://www.lrfaq.org/Dealerships/Rootes_Dealerships.html
https://www.lrfaq.org/FAQ.3.LR_sales_US.html


  • Written By
  • Greg Fitzgerald
  • Adventure addict. '90s Land Rover daily driver. Historic preservationist. Personal vehicles: 1994 Discovery I, 1994 Range Rover Classic, 1961 Series II.
Select a Category
Select Vehicle Select Your Vehicle

What Our Customers Are Saying

Always great service/advice and always great prices. Love the videos. The quality of parts can't be beat and I always get exactly what I ordered in a timely manner

James C.
Vienna, VA

2 days ago

Selection, part quality, and support are all top notch. Prices are competitive.

Wayne L
Richardson, TX

2 days ago

Very good customer service on BOTH coasts. Most parts have been in stock. quick shipping times. Very helpful "how to" videos.

Michael M.
North Hollywood, CA

3 days ago

Great value (which means quality merchandise for reasonable price). Also, the website was easy to navigate. I was kept informed on status of delivery.

David D.
Charlotte, NC

4 days ago

Excellent customer service, great pricing on high quality products. And fast shipping! Thanks Rover parts!!

Jason H.
Charlottesville, VA

4 days ago

Great selection, knowledge staff, and the how-to videos are amazing.

Dustin H.
Washington, DC

4 days ago

Lots of parts that are hard to find and competitive prices. Very knowledgeable and nice customer service.

Eric F.
San Miguel, CA

4 days ago

Parts have always arrived in a reasonable time and the staff are helpful with questions. The website is user friendly and the how-to videos are particularly helpful.

Stephen L.
Burlington, ON

9 days ago

Great website, smooth ordering process, prompt service. Great job, thanks very much.

Bob R.
Musquodoboit Harbour, NS

10 days ago

Very great staff wonderful service fast and easy correct accurate parts

Brandon T.
West Bloomfield Township, MI

11 days ago

Reviews from our Customers...

  • FAST Shipping! Call these Folks they have all the answers to your part installation.

    -Bill M. (Boydton,VA)

    Great customer service, very knowledgeable staff. Everyone I have worked with are Land Rover owners- which is a big help for knowing the vehicles.

    You always have the parts I need at a great price and everyone Ive ever spoken to has a great knowledge of all Land Rovers

    -Keith B. (Blue Ridge,VA)

    Professionalism. My sales rep is a rock star, and I value both his technical expertise and his knowledge of your product line.

    -Alan R. (N. Chelmsford,MA)

  • FAST Shipping! Call these Folks they have all the answers to your part installation.

    -Bill M. (Boydton,VA)

    Great customer service, very knowledgeable staff. Everyone I have worked with are Land Rover owners- which is a big help for knowing the vehicles.

    You always have the parts I need at a great price and everyone Ive ever spoken to has a great knowledge of all Land Rovers

    -Keith B. (Blue Ridge,VA)

    Professionalism. My sales rep is a rock star, and I value both his technical expertise and his knowledge of your product line.

    -Alan R. (N. Chelmsford,MA)

  • You always have the parts I need at a great price and everyone Ive ever spoken to has a great knowledge of all Land Rovers

    -Keith B. (Blue Ridge,VA)

  • Professionalism. My sales rep is a rock star, and I value both his technical expertise and his knowledge of your product line.

    -Alan R. (N. Chelmsford,MA)

SIGN UP for Exclusive Offers and Latest Deals

Ask a Question

Thank You!

Your message was successfully sent to Atlantic British!

Our Customer Service Team will address your request shortly.

How Can We Help You?

Please fill out the form and a Rover Parts Specialist will email you back shortly

Notify me when item number is back in stock!