Original 1948 Amsterdam Motorshow Land Rover restored and running

ByIsaac BoberSeptember 23, 2019
Original 1948 Amsterdam Motorshow Land Rover restored and running

More than 12 months after restoration works began, one of three pre-production Land Rovers at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show has taken to the road.

The ‘missing’ original launch Land Rover demonstration vehicle at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show has finally been restored and returned to the road. One of three Land Rovers at the motor show, this one went missing and was eventually re-discovered in a garden near the Solihull factory where it was built.

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Handed over to Land Rover Classic around 12 months ago, it has been returned to 1948 specification, including left-hand drive, prototype braking system and all-wheel drive controls. The whole thing was stripped down and rebuilt, with any new parts built using original tools and to the original plans.

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Calum McKechnie, Head of Land Rover Classic, said: “It was important to strike the right balance when restoring the launch Land Rover. While there was a need to replace some parts, we were keen to keep as much of the original vehicle as possible in order to retain the unique characteristics of this 70 year-old model. The team has done an incredible job and the end result is a testament to the unique expertise and tireless passion of the experts at our Classic Works facility.”

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For trainspotters, the through-dash 4X4 controls will be of most interest. Known as ‘Organ Stops’ these three push-pull knobs on the dash allowed the driver to switch from 2WD to 4WD, and high- and low-range gear. The organ stops only featured on pre-production and a handful of production vehicles before being replaced. Similarly, pre-production vehicles had Lockheed brakes while production models had Girling brakes. No longer in production, Classic mechanics referred to original drawings and rebuilt the braking system from scratch.

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It’s always a tricky decision to make with an old vehicle. Just how far should you go with the restoration. “The flaking exterior paintwork doesn’t look like it has been subject to a year-long restoration, but the goal was always to retain the patina of this important vehicle. Minor repairs were made to the original panels to remove tears and sharp edges. Where new panels were needed, they were recreated in original 2mm thickness aluminium – unique to pre-production models – and painted in the original light green paint, colour matched from the underside of the original seat base, before being aged to complement the original panels,” Land Rover Classic said.

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With the original badge missing, Land Rover set about recreating it. To do this, it digitised a photograph of another Land Rover on the stand at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show. In-house Computer Aided Design specialists then transposed the photograph to calculate the size of the lettering and its position on the front wing to cast an accurate replacement.

The restored Land Rover was displayed last weekend at the Goodwood Revival and will now live as a permanent display at the Land Rover Classic Works facility in Coventry.