Land Rover discovery: Original 4×4 found after 63 years

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Parked in a field or a garden for 63 years, this original Land Rover prototype is being restored in conjunction with the company's 70th anniversary | Jaguar Land Rover Classic photos

As part of its 70th anniversary celebration, Land Rover will restore its original 4×4 vehicle, one of three displayed at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show but only recently found after having been missing for 63 of its 70 years.

“Experts at Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works in Coventry will preserve the history and sympathetically restore” what the company is calling “the worlds most historically significant unrestored Land Rover,” it announced.

Sympathetic restoration will be done in Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works shop

The company also reported that the Amsterdam display car was recently discovered “languishing” in a garden only a few miles from Solihull, where it originally was built. Company researchers subsequently spent months unraveling the car’s ownership history and provenance. They discovered that the vehicle was last registered for the road in the 1960s, and then spent 20 years in a Welsh field before someone bought it with plans to do a restoration, a restoration that did not happen.

“This Land Rover is an irreplaceable piece of world automotive history and is as historically important as ‘Huey,’ the first pre-production Land Rover,” said Tim Hannig, Jaguar Land Rover Classic director

Original engine still in place

 “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.

“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.”

Patina

Forty-eight pre-production vehicles were produced. They featured thicker aluminum alloy body panels, galvanized chassis and removable rear tub sections, the company noted.

As part of the sympathetic restoration, the patina of the original components, including the original Light Green paint, will be preserved, the company said.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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