Land Rover is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year and to kick off the celebrations, it’s restoring a long-lost vehicle.
The British automaker has located one of the three pre-production Land Rovers shown at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show launch, which introduced the world to this now iconic brand. The vehicle was last seen on the road in the 1960s before spending 20 years in a Welsh field, Land Rover said. At some point, it was bought as a restoration project, but it laid unfinished in a garden.
After it was surprisingly found just a few miles outside Solihull, U.K., where the car was first built, Jaguar Land Rover Classic experts spent months in company archives to determine its ownership history and confirm it is indeed one of the three pre-production units.
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Now, the team behind the Land Rover Series I Reborn program will take on their most challenging project yet. The plan is to embark on a year-long mission to preserve the vehicle and return it to its former glory so that it can be driven again. The 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 series vehicles. That includes thicker aluminum body panels, a galvanized chassis, and a removable rear tub. More importantly, the patina of its components will be preserved, including the original Light Green paint applied in 1948.
“This Land Rover is an irreplaceable piece of world automotive history and is as historically important as ‘Huey,’ the first pre-production Land Rover,” said Tim Hannig, Jaguar Land Rover Classic director. “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. 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.”