The world’s first production Land Rover, historically significant yet left outside to rot for almost four decades, then hidden in a barn for nearly another two decades until it was “liberated,” is the subject of a new book, JUE 477, by Land Rover expert Martin Port.
Published in the UK by Porter Press, the book tells the story of chassis number 86001, built in 1948 as a rugged 4X4 intended as an agricultural workhorse. While the seminal example was supposed to be presented to King George VI, the Land Rover wound up doing heavy labor on farms and mining sites in northeast England, where it worked unheralded for 22 years.
The well-worn Landie, license number JUE 477, was eventually sold to a Northumberland farmer, Douglas Fairless, who paid just £15 with the intent of either using it on his farm or breaking it up for parts. Fairless wound up simply abandoning it on his property, where it stood exposed to the elements for the next 38 years.
In June 1998, Fairless loaded the decrepit JUE 477 onto a trailer and took it to the Land Rover Series One Club’s 50th anniversary rally.
“Despite its ruinous state, 860001 created such a stir that when Fairless got back home, he hid the vehicle in a tumbledown barn, barricaded behind an assortment of hay bales and vehicle parts,” according to the Porter Press announcement of the book.
“In 2017, after Fairless’s death, 860001 was liberated from the barn.”
That was when Jim Ratcliffe, the founder and chairman of INEOS, a British manufacturer of off-road vehicles, rescued 860001 and “treated (it) to a sympathetic 18-month restoration, retaining as much of the original vehicle as possible,” the announcement says.
JUE 477 tells the fascinating details about the first Land Rover’s early existence and its rebirth, and includes more than 240 images, the publisher says. The hardback standard edition is priced at £30, with a limited number of special launch editions priced at £45 that are signed by Port and Julian Shoolheifer, who led the restoration of 860001.
For information about JUE 477 (ISBN: 978-1-907085-78-9), visit the publisher’s website.