Dutch Royal Marine Land-Rover Series 2a ‘bugeye’

The Royal Marine of The Netherlands has a history with Land-Rover that goes back to the Series 1, and continues to this day with the Defender 110 XD WW. In the 1960’s then Dutch Land-Rover distributor Sieberg in Amsterdam delivered a batch of extremely rare Series 2a vehicles, now known as ‘bugeyes’.

Apart from the USA and Canada, the transitional Land-Rover Series 2a was also sold in The Netherlands. This Royal Navy example has the ‘bugeye’ headlights and specific grill and grill panel.

These Land-Rovers were the first vehicles that received the headlamps to wings modification in 1968. They are known as ‘transitional’, ‘bugeye’ or ‘federal’ Land-Rovers. ‘Bugeye’ because the headlights protruded the wings and ‘federal’ because of new legislation in the NADA market that demanded a certain space between the headlights. The grill is of a unique design and was only fitted to this transitional model, of which only a few hundred were built and were sold to the USA, Canada and The Netherlands.

Designated owner’s manuals

Manuals issued with the Marines Land-Rover Series 2a. Note military registration ‘KM-29-05’ and the ‘Koninklijke Marine’ (Royal Navy) stamp.

Each Marines Land-Rover was issued with a designated owner’s instruction and maintenance manual in English and a copy in Dutch by Sieberg, with the military registration (e.g. KM-29-05) printed on the cover. When these Land-Rovers were auctioned off by the government in the 1970’s, these manuals did not come with the cars, and most were thrown away, making these manuals very rare.

Land-Rover Series 2a manual in Dutch, as issued by distributor HCL Sieberg. Price was 4 guilders in 1967. This manual belonged to car registered KM-29-03 and has the Royal Marine stamp.

It is unknown how many ‘bugeye’ Series 2a’s were delivered to the Navy, but fact is not many original Dutch Royal Marine Series 2a Land-Rovers survive. When the navy replaced them with Land-Rover Lightweights in the 1970’s, most people who bought them at auction did not see them as (future) classics. In 2020 however a rare survivor was offered for sale in The Netherlands, and another example was sold in parts. Thankfully we still have the (period) images, and the manuals as a testament to a small slice of military Land-Rover history.

Copyright for all images, except the manuals which are owned by the author, is with “Collectie Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie”.

Ronald Janus
De Autoboerderij

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