A fibre-glass bodied van on a Land Rover chassis would have made a great classic car today.
This prototype was built by Mulliners of Birmingham and there are no Land-Rover logo’s in sight. The only giveaways that this mini-bus is based on a Land-Rover is the visible front differential housing and the steering wheel with metal spokes.
The black & white photo above was published in the 1973 brochure ‘1948-1973 Land-Rover Twenty-five years of World-Wide achievement (publication no. R924/4.73). It looks like the mini-bus was built on a SIIA Forward Control chassis, since the engine and steering position look different from a normal bonnetted control model. However bus maker Mulliners of Birmingham was closed in 1960, two years before the first IIA FC was introduced.
A similar looking vehicle is shown in the 1976 book The Land-Rover – Workhorse of the world by Graham Robson, see image above. Robsons book does not clarify much, except for the caption ‘Ernest Marples and his bride-to-be with the special-bodied Land-Rover caravan they used for honeymoon transport.’ Marples, who later became minister of Transport, married Ruby Dobson in 1956, which gives a clue about the underpinnings of the Mulliners glassfibre Land-Rover. It is therefore most probably based on a 107 inch chassis, introduced in 1954. Marples’ honeymoon transport was a caravan, not a people carrier like the car in the first image. Although looking very similar, the roof is of a different design. It is unclear if Mulliners built two cars, a van and caravan, or if it modified the roof for the caravan.
The fate of the Mulliners car(s) is unknown. DVLA holds no record for TNX486, nor does google. It never made series production, the 1973 brochure is clear abou that: ‘This fibre-glass mini-bus prototype was produced on the Land-Rover long wheelbase chassis by Mulliners but was never marketed.’ Shortly after Land-Rover did however market their own ‘bus’, the 109 Station Wagon based twelve seater: