If you don’t know who Harold Faltermeyer is, you almost certainly know two of his most famous pieces of music – the instrumental themes for ‘Top Gun’ and ‘Beverly Hills Cop’.
Faltermeyer received a Grammy award for each of those creations, but has a history in writing, recording and producing movie soundtracks both before and after those two ‘80s blockbusters. He’s also worked with a wide variety of recording artists, from Donna Summer to the Pet Shop Boys.
Born and raised in Munich in southern Germany, Faltermeyer describes himself as a “country boy” who feels most at home outside, which goes some way to explaining the 68-year-old’s attraction to classic Land Rovers. That attraction was strengthened two years ago when Faltermeyer visited Land Rover Classic in the UK.
There, he was able to see the high-quality work to come out of Land Rover Classic’s ‘Reborn’ programme that restores classic Series I, II and III Land Rovers to original condition. That visit inspired Faltermeyer so much that he eventually commissioned a Reborn restoration of his own, which was completed last December as an early Christmas present for the music guru.
Founded in 2016, the Reborn programme followed the end of production of the original Defender; a model that can trace its lineage back to the very first Land Rover from 1948.
Under Reborn, a team of skilled craftspeople and technicians treat classic Land Rovers to comprehensive, authentic restorations.
Candidate vehicles have to meet certain criteria set by the Land Rover Classic team, who draw upon decades of experience to identify and assess each vehicle’s condition.
To ensure exclusivity of these high-spec, high-price restorations (around AU$100,000, depending on the base vehicle’s condition), Land Rover Classic set a cap of 25 units of the Series I, the number reflecting the 25 pre-production versions of the Series I that were built before the Land Rover’s introduction.
The restoration that each vehicle is subject to is not only comprehensive, down to the last nut and bolt, but entirely authentic in terms of mechanical componentry to original factory specifications, using parts developed and produced by Land Rover Classic Parts.
This commitment to authenticity extends to the colours - Light Green, Bronze Green, RAF Blue, Dove Grey and Poppy Red – which were all ‘army surplus’ finishes that were readily available at the time of the original Land Rover’s production. For example, if a Series I was originally finished in Dove Grey, it will be repainted in that colour under Reborn, ensuring cosmetic as well as mechanical accuracy to the original vehicle.
An additional goal with each restoration is to retain as many of the original parts and panels as possible, replacing items only when absolutely necessary.
Once each restoration is finished, Land Rover Classic’s audit team reassess the vehicle before approving it for sale.
Harold’s Series I
To balance a working life spent in a recording studio, Faltermeyer spends a lot of time in the outdoors, be it climbing, hiking, skiing, hunting or fishing. With the Series I Land Rover so closely associated with the outdoors, adventure and discovery, it was the ideal accompaniment to Faltermeyer’s leisure pursuits that are off the beaten track.
The origins of the Series I restored for Faltermeyer is unknown, but early Land Rovers from all around the world have been sourced for the Reborn programme, as evidenced by the first Series I to be restored, which was found on a Queensland farm.
As it’s a factory left-hand drive vehicle, Faltermeyer's Series I may have been originally delivered to what was West Germany.
What is known is that the Series I was originally built in September, 1952 – just a few weeks before Faltermeyer was born so the “shared birth year” made it even more attractive.
Finished in Bronze Green, Faltermeyer’s Series I is authentic mechanically, as well as cosmetically, to the original vehicle. That means a 70hp (52kW) 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, 4-speed manual transmission and full-time four-wheel drive system with 2-speed transfer case.
Long Drive Home
This past December, Faltermeyer and his partner Birgit Wolf picked up their Reborn ’52 Land Rover Series I from the German arm of Land Rover Classic in Essen-Kettwing.
The pair then drove the vehicle back to Bavaria – a journey of close to six hours – which perhaps was the ultimate proof of Faltermeyer’s devotion to the Series I’s simplicity and originality.
While there was no chance of Beverly Hills Cop’s ‘Axel F’ or the Top Gun theme providing musical accompaniment for the journey – these early Land Rovers don’t have a radio - Faltermeyer says that, with his Reborn Series I, he feels like he has the right companion for all his outdoor adventures.