At the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show, Land Rover unveiled three pre-production prototypes, one of them, has been missing for the last 63 years. This year, Jaguar Land Rover will mark its 70th anniversary with a series of events and celebrations, beginning with the restoration of this lost vehicle that started it all.
For years the whereabouts of this launch 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, UK – where the car was first built – the experts at Jaguar Land Rover Classic spent months researching in company archives to unravel its ownership history and confirm its provenance.
According to Tim Hannig, Jaguar Land Rover Classic director, “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 sympathetic restoration here at Classic Works, where we can ensure it’s put back together precisely as it’s meant to be, is a fitting way to start Land Rover’s 70th anniversary year.”
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. Follow the full story on Instagram @LandRoverUKPR.
all images courtesy of Land Rover