As the first of many activities planned for their 70th Anniversary this year, Land Rover has sourced a very early example of the Land Rover Series I that will subject to a full restoration.
While not the first pre-production Land Rover, known as ‘Huey’ (due to its HUE 166 registration), the unit to be restored is another rare pre-production example.
One of three presented at the Amsterdam Motor Show in 1948 and originally built in LHD to suit that market, the show Land Rover came back to the UK and was converted back to RHD and upgraded with new parts from the production models. First registered in 1955, the pre-production unit went off the company’s radar in the 1960s and was thought lost forever, but had actually shuttled through several owners in the UK, including one in Wales who used the vehicle as a stationary engine.
Sold to its most recent owner in 1988, the vehicle was going to be restored, but the project stalled.
In 2016, Land Rover became aware of this early piece of their history and, after searching through their own records to confirm its provenance, purchased the vehicle.
The restoration will be led by the Jaguar Land Rover Classic team behind the Land Rover Series I Reborn programme and is expected to take a full year. This is due to the pre-production models having several features that were different from the production Series Is that followed, like a galvanized chassis, thicker aluminium on the body panels and a removable rear tub.
“This Land Rover is an irreplaceable piece of world automotive history and is as historically important as ‘Huey’,” explained Tim Hannig, Director of Jaguar Land Rover Classic.
“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.”
While the pre-production model will be restored, JLR Classic say they aim to maintain much of the vehicle’s “as found” patina.
Further projects, stories and events marking Land Rover’s 70th Anniversary will be released throughout the year.