Original Launch Land Rover Returns to the Road for First Time since 1960s
Rebuilt by a team of experts at Land Rover Classic in Coventry, the 'missing' original launch Land Rover demonstration vehicle from the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show has returned to the road.
The historically important vehicle vanished for decades but was found inf 2016 in a garden near the Solihull factory where it was built.
The ‘missing’ vehicle has been lovingly resorted to correct specification using traditional skills, original drawings and advanced technology. The team set out to preserve as much of the original vehicle as possible during the year-long restoration, including keeping the left-hand drive configuration, prototype braking system and all-wheel drive controls. The team also worked with the Forestry Commission to identify the original wood used on the front seatbacks to provide absolute authenticity
A complete strip down of the vehicle revealed a number of surprises, including a George V sixpence under the galvanised body capping. The front axle required no significant repairs, however the rear axle showed signs of extreme damage. Luckily the part was X-rayed and found to be strong enough to keep. This process also uncovered the original axle number, which was thought to be lost. Other original features include though-dash selectable 4WD system controls known as ‘Organ Stops’.
“It was important to strike the right balance when restoring the launch Land Rover. While there was a need to replace some parts, we were keen to keep as much of the original vehicle as possible in order to retain the unique characteristics of this 70 year-old model. The team has done an incredible job and the end result is a testament to the unique expertise and tireless passion of the experts at our Classic Works facility.”
- Calum McKehnie – Head of Land Rover Classic
The Land Rover’s paintwork has been mainly left to maintain the original patina of this important vehicle. Minor repairs were made to the original panels to remove tears and sharp edges. Any new panels were recreated in original 2mm thickness aluminium. The missing badge was also recreated to be exactly how it was 70 years ago.
“Bringing this historically important Land Rover back to life was a huge challenge, given its wear, tear and decay from the elements since the 1960s, but also a real pleasure. Being able to open up our archive and revisit the original Land Rover engineering programme from over 70 years ago was a great privilege for the whole team.”
- Michael Bishop, Land Rover Classic Build Engineer
Rebuilding the engine fully, they included the specially-made pre-production-specification high-compression pistons. The result is that the model drives just like it did when it left the factory.
The finished vehicle took pride of place on the Land Rover Classic stand at the Goodwood Rivival meeting in early September, before joining the active vehicle collection at the Classic Work facility in Coventry.
Contact your local Harwoods Land Rover dealership for more information.