Land Rover Begins Restoration of Land Rover Series I, Number One

Seventy-year-old automobiles are rare. Unrestored 70-year-old automobiles are even rarer. Even rarer still are the “barn finds,” lost and forgotten automobiles discovered after years, often decades, of neglect and decay in some obscure barn or warehouse. But even among barn finds, one almost never finds the very first example of its kind, let alone one as significant as this: the first Land Rover ever, according to Land Rover itself, which the artisans and engineers at Jaguar Land Rover Classic are commencing to restore as part of Land Rover’s 70th anniversary activities in 2018.

Land Rover Begins Restoration of Land Rover Series I, Number One

Technically speaking, this 1948 preproduction prototype would be considered a “garden find,” which sounds like a term the British might use instead of “barn find,” but in this case, it appears to be true. According to Land Rover, the rusty old truck (named Huey, allegedly) was one of three Land Rover prototypes that were shown at the 1948 Amsterdam auto show, and it had been missing for more than 60 years before being found in 2016 in some chap’s garden just a few miles away from the Solihull, England, location where it was built all those decades ago. As one of the original launch vehicles, this one features thicker aluminum body panels, a removable rear tub, and a galvanized chassis. Land Rover considers it the world’s most historically significant unrestored Land Rover. We won’t argue with that characterization.

Timeline of 1948 Land Rover Series I Launch Vehicle

(Source: Land Rover Classic Works)

Once Huey came to Land Rover’s attention, the company’s historians set about unearthing its past, though one look would suggest that it has spent a lot of time outdoors. According to the timeline Land Rover produced about this vehicle, most of its time seems to have been spent in the United Kingdom, much of it sedentary, apparently being used in Wales as a “static power source” from 1968 until the engine seized 20 years later.

Jaguar Land Rover Classic’s restoration efforts are expected to be ongoing through 2018 and will be “sympathetic” in nature, with the goal of making it drivable again whilst retaining the patina of its components, including as much of what little of its original light green paint remains.

Incidentally, previous owners have been invited to the Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works “to share their experiences and to witness its loving restoration.” If you would like to check in on its loving restoration, too, it will be well documented on Land Rover’s Instagram (@LandRover). We’ll likely also check in on Huey, once the restoration is complete.


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