Some folks take the day off for their birthdays and focus on relaxing and enjoying life. Land Rover, however, is going the opposite way at the start of its 70th anniversary year, taking on a project that by all indications will be extremely difficult and time-consuming. It is restoring one of the original pre-production Series I models debuted at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show. Judging from the photos, the restoration team has its work cut out for it.

Land Rover entered the automotive world at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show, where it presented three pre-production models, the trucks that made Land Rover, Land Rover. So restoring one of those originals seems the perfect project for a big anniversary year.

The model Land Rover is putting its wrenches to went off the grid decades ago. According to Land Rover's research, it had been on the road as late as the 1960s, before spending 20 years in a field in Wales doing work as a stationary power source. It was then purchased as a restoration project, but ended up wasting away in a garden. Land Rover eventually happened upon it just a few miles from the Solihull headquarters at which it was born, and the rest is history – or at least it will be after the yearlong restoration project is complete.

Land Rover calls the model the world's most historically significant unrestored Land Rover. The emphasis there should be on "unrestored," as this model is in rough shape, an unattractive mix of decades' worth of rust, peeled paint and general decay, inside and out. We can just picture the critters scurrying out in all directions the first time Land Rover popped the hood.

But Jaguar Land Rover does have some experience with this type of thing, having previously worked on stunning pieces like the 1978 Range Rover Classic and Continuation 1957 XKSS. The same Jaguar Land Rover Classic team will approach this project with care and purpose, following a specific process to restore the 4x4 while maintaining its historical integrity.

"This Land Rover is an irreplaceable piece of world automotive history and is as historically important as 'Huey', the first pre-production Land Rover," says Tim Hannig, director of Jaguar Land Rover Classic. "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 recognized as a Land Rover."

Land Rover will even invite previous owners to witness the restoration process and share their experiences. After first discovering the vehicle, the 4x4 maker conducted an extensive study of the car's ownership history. Here's the timeline it tracked:

  • 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

This intriguing restoration project kicks off a year of planned 70th anniversary events and celebrations, and we look forward to seeing it when it's complete. It should definitely make for a dramatic "before/after" photo set.

Source: Land Rover

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