One of the three original launch Land Rovers which was unveiled at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show is to be brought back to life to mark its 70th anniversary.
Land Rover’s Classic division will spend a year restoring the ‘priceless’ 4×4, which has been off the road since the Sixties.
It was languishing in a garden a stone’s throw from the Solihull factory in which it was built.
The renovation project comes as parent company Jaguar Land Rover prepares to launch a 21st-century version of the rugged Defender, as the original model later became known.
A Land Rover spokesman said: ‘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– where the car was first built.’
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Experts at Jaguar Land Rover Classic spent months researching in company archives to unravel its ownership history and confirm its provenance.
Tim Hannig, Jaguar Land Rover Classic Director, said: ‘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.’
He added: ‘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 recognised as a Land Rover.’
It comes as the firm prepares within a year to launch a 21st Century version of the rugged Defender, as the original Land Rover later became known. Restorations on a run of 25 ‘reborn’ Series 1 Land Rovers sold for between £60,000 and £80,000.
Previous owners of the historic vehicle are being invited to Jaguar Land Rover’s Classic Works facility to witness its restoration and share their experiences.
TIMELINE: BACK TO LIFE –THE ORIGINAL 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, UK
2016 Spotted in a garden, destined for a restoration which never began