Land Rover has launched its 70th anniversary celebration this year with a series of events and projects, starting with the restoration of the vehicle that started it all: one of the three pre-production Land Rovers shown at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show.
This gave the world its first glimpse of the shape that would become instantly recognizable as a Land Rover.
Land Rover will celebrate its 70th anniversary year throughout 2018, starting with a unique restoration project: the original launch Land Rover
The first Land Rovers were shown at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show; this original launch vehicle has been missing for the last 63 years
Recently discovered, it’s the world’s most historically significant unrestored Land Rover
Experts at Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works in Coventry will preserve the history and sympathetically restore the famous vehicle in 2018.
For years, the whereabouts of this Land Rover was a mystery. The demonstration vehicle from the Amsterdam show was last on the road in the 1960s, after which it spent 20 years in a Welsh field before being bought as a restoration project; it then lay languishing unfinished in a garden.
Following its surprise discovery just a few miles outside of Solihull, U.K. – where the car was first built – the experts at Jaguar Land Rover Classic spent months going through company archives to unravel its ownership history and confirm its provenance.
The team behind the successful Land Rover Series I Reborn program, which allows customers to own a slice of Land Rover history with meticulously restored Series Is, will now embark on their most challenging project yet: a year-long mission to preserve this historically significant prototype and enable it to be driven again.
This Land Rover is an irreplaceable piece of world automotive history and is as historically important as “Huey,” the first pre-production Land Rover.
Beginning its restoration at Classic Works (Norris McDonald took the photo above of the lobby at the Classic Works facility, near Coventry), where Jaguar Land Rover can ensure that it’s put back together precisely as it’s meant to be, is a fitting way to start Land Rover’s 70th anniversary year.
There is something charming about the fact that exactly 70 years ago, this vehicle would have been undergoing its final adjustments before being prepared for the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show launch – where the world first saw the shape that’s now immediately recognized as a Land Rover.
Says Tim Hannig, Jaguar Land Rover Classic Director: “The Jaguar Land Rover Classic team will follow a dedicated process to restore the launch vehicle, which has a lot of special features that are unique to the 48 pre-production Land Rovers that were produced prior to the mass production vehicles, such as thicker aluminium alloy body panels, a galvanised chassis and a removable rear tub.
“The patina of its components will be preserved, including the original Light Green paint applied in 1948.”
Previous owners of this historic vehicle are being invited to Jaguar Land Rover’s Classic Works facility to share their experiences and to witness its loving restoration.
This landmark project, representing the earliest beginnings of the Land Rover story – which led to more than 67 years of continuous production of iconic Series I to Defender vehicles at Solihull – is the first in a series of stories and events that will celebrate the past, present and future of Land Rover throughout 2018.
About Land Rover
Since 1948 Land Rover has been manufacturing authentic 4x4s that represent true ‘breadth of capability’ across the model range. Defender, Discovery, Discovery Sport, Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Range Rover Velar and Range Rover Evoque each define the world’s SUV sectors, with 80 per cent of this model range exported to over 100 countries.
Jaguar Land Rover Classic is the official source of authentic cars, expert services, genuine parts and unforgettable experiences for classic Jaguar and Land Rover enthusiasts worldwide.
Timeline: 1948 Launch Land Rover
1948: Built with LHD and listed as Experimental on the logbook and record of sale
1948: Upgraded with new production parts by Engine Department, converted to current RHD setup
1955: First registered on 25 June 1955 with registration SNX 910
1961: Sold to a new owner in Handsworth
1965: Moved to Sutton Coldfield
1967: Moved to Stratford-Upon-Avon
1968: Moved to Alvechurch, Worcestershire
1968: Used in Wales as a static power source
1988: Engine seized – the Land Rover was sold to a new owner in Birmingham, U.K.
2016: Spotted in a garden, destined for a restoration which never began