Automotive

Range Rover 001 sells for £132,250 (US$213,000)

Range Rover 001 sells for £132...
The first production Range Rover sold for £132,250 (US$213,000)
The first production Range Rover sold for £132,250 (US$213,000)
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The first production Range Rover sold for £132,250 (US$213,000)
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The first production Range Rover sold for £132,250 (US$213,000)
Range Rover 001 was first sold in 1970
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Range Rover 001 was first sold in 1970
Under the bonnet of Range Rover 001
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Under the bonnet of Range Rover 001
Range Rover 001's V8 engine
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Range Rover 001's V8 engine
Range Rover 001 was refitted with vintage parts
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Range Rover 001 was refitted with vintage parts
Range Rover 001 was the first of thr range Rover Classic line
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Range Rover 001 was the first of thr range Rover Classic line
Range Rover 001 cargo space
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Range Rover 001 cargo space
Range Rover 001 cockpit
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Range Rover 001 cockpit
Range Rover 001 was sold at auction in London
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Range Rover 001 was sold at auction in London
Range Rover 001 was repainted in its original Olive Green
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Range Rover 001 was repainted in its original Olive Green
Collection of Range Rover literature
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Collection of Range Rover literature
Range Rover 001 rear view
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Range Rover 001 rear view
Range Rover 001 interior
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Range Rover 001 interior
Range Rover 001 has been resold several times
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Range Rover 001 has been resold several times
Range Rover 001 dashboard
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Range Rover 001 dashboard
Range Rover 001 cockpit
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Range Rover 001 cockpit
Range Rover 001 electrics
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Range Rover 001 electrics
Range Rover 001 grille
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Range Rover 001 grille
Range Rover 001 steering wheel
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Range Rover 001 steering wheel
Range Rover 001 detail
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Range Rover 001 detail
Range Rover literature
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Range Rover literature
Range Rover 001 was a utility vehicle
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Range Rover 001 was a utility vehicle
Range Rover 001 was Land Rover's first upmarket car
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Range Rover 001 was Land Rover's first upmarket car
Range Rover 001 fill cap
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Range Rover 001 fill cap
Range Rover 001 profile
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Range Rover 001 profile
Range Rover 001 detail
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Range Rover 001 detail
Range Rover 001 interior detail
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Range Rover 001 interior detail
Range Rover 001 wing mirror
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Range Rover 001 wing mirror
Range Rover 001 lines
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Range Rover 001 lines
Range Rover 001 steering wheel details
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Range Rover 001 steering wheel details
Range Rover 001 was refitted with its original number plate
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Range Rover 001 was refitted with its original number plate
Range Rover 001 gear lever
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Range Rover 001 gear lever
View gallery - 32 images

The first Range Rover to roll off the production line has sold at auction for £132,250 (US$213,000). The vintage, fully-restored 4x4 with chassis No. 001 was sold in London to a private owner by Silverstone Auctions and Salon Privé in a sale that was not only about automotive history, but the end of a motoring mystery.

First introduced in 1970, the Range Rover was Land Rover’s first attempt to go upmarket. However, despite its reputation as a luxury car for the shooting-and-wax-jacket set, the first Range Rovers were still fairly utilitarian affairs with basic interiors, vinyl seats, and plastic dashboards. But with its 4-liter, V8 engine and increasing collection of luxury features, it proved remarkably successful throughout the original Spen King-designed model’s run of 300,000 cars through 1996.

Unfortunately, in 1970, all that was in the future and, as is common when history begins, a lot of the early bits were misplaced. While the final Range Rover Classic (as it was then renamed) was displayed in the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust collection at Gaydon, Warwickshire, No. 001 seemed for a time lost never to be seen again due to an unfortunate string of circumstances.

Range Rover 001 was the first of thr range Rover Classic line
Range Rover 001 was the first of thr range Rover Classic line

Land Rover No. 001 was the first of a batch of six that were given YVB **H number plates registered in Croydon to hide from prying eyes that a new Land Rover model was being road tested – which would be a bit of a giveaway if they’d had plates registered at the company’s Solihull headquarters.

However, when it was sold to promotional film producer Michael Forlong on April 8, 1971, No. 001 was resprayed from Olive Green to Bahama Gold, a textured dash was fitted, and when it was resold to W G Ansell in 1975, it was fitted with number plate WGA 71. And if that didn’t muddy things up enough, when it was resold to a Kentish farmer it was renumbered again as EGU 16H. This so confused things that the whereabouts of the first Range Rover were given up as lost until the early 1990s when the now-previous owner discovered its location thanks to a chance phone call.

According to Silverstone Auctions, the rediscovery of No. 001 was followed by a six-year restoration during which the car was repainted Olive Green, and the engine and bodywork refitted with original parts of the proper vintage, as well as the original bonnet, and body shell. The whole effort was capped by the owner persuading the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to reissue the original YVB 151H plate due to the vehicle’s historical significance.

Source: Silverstone Auctions

View gallery - 32 images
2 comments
bergamot69
This may have been the first off the production lines, but there are a few pre-production line prototypes in circulation. These had the name Velar on the bonnet, instead of the iconic 'Range Rover' lettering to confuse journalists or others- the Range Rover had it's own unique design language, and there was nothing obvious about it (apart from the sound of the V8 burbling away) that would link it to it's makers, Rover Cars- it had little in common with the utilitarian Land Rover. There is an excellent article on the history of the Range Rover (and many other British cars) on the ARonline webite http://www.aronline.co.uk/blogs/cars/range-rover/the-cars-range-rover-development-history/ , which show fascinating pictures of some earier (thankfully abandoned) incarnations, as well as the earliest prototype- looking far more utilitarian than the production model. The first gen Rangie never had a 4.0 engine, it used 3.5, 3.9 or 4.2 version of the ex-Buick V8- very light, compact and durable if looked after.
Slowburn
Apparently it wasn't targeted at the overflowing with servants class but to people of modest wealth that still saw easy to clean is a luxury.