Rover introduced a system under which a suffix letter would denote a number of specification changes made at that point – that system was implemented, but for some reason wasn’t applied to vehicle naming after ‘A’. The big change from Series II to IIA was defined by the 1961 introduction of a new 2.25-litre OHV diesel engine, based on the existing petrol unit.
An additional petrol option for long-wheelbase models arrived in 1966 (USA) and 1967 (UK and rest of the world) with the 2.6-litre Rover IOE six-cylinder engine – an elderly design with 1930’s roots. 1969 saw the introduction of a One-Ton variant with beefed-up transmission and suspension but standard body dimensions (which continued into Series III production).
In the latter part of the nineteen-sixties, safety legislation, kicked off by Ralph Nader’s book ‘Unsafe at any speed’ (1965, USA), had caused various countries to demand safety amendments to the IIA’s design. Most noticeable was the move of headlights from the grille panel to the front wings. This was initially done by a line-side work-around, simply cutting round holes in the wings and mounting headlights direct – though such vehicles all went to export markets, not into UK. From 1969 pressed headlamp-surround panels were fitted (nowadays, more commonly associated with Series III). Series IIA production finally finished in 1971.
Again, pre-production vehicles would have been running prior to introduction of changes, but again this area is not well researched. Components are stamped, but reading them and the vehicle’s chassis number is less easy, mainly due to a cumulative chassis-numbering system which does not break to yearly groups. As before, company’s own vehicles typically carry local registrations.