Thursday February 8, 2018
A major joy of the classic car world is the finding of a famous or historically important model in a barn, a field or even beneath some bramble bushes.
The original Saint ‘Volvo’ and the Bullitt ‘Jump Mustang’ are two famous examples and seven years before Genevieve entered production, the 1904 Darracq was found in a London scrap yard.
One of the stars of last year’s Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show was the Vanden Plas 1800 “Landcrab” and in the past few weeks there has been the news of the pre-production Land Rover that was one of three exhibits at the Amsterdam Motor Show on 30th April 1948.
It is almost impossible to overestimate the importance of unearthing a vehicle that literally made automotive history, especially one that has been missing for the past 63 years.
The Land-Rovers on display some seventy years ago differed in several respects from the subsequent production model – there was a galvanised chassis, thicker body panels of aluminium alloy body panels and a removable tub in the rear.
According to the motoring historian James Taylor in his indispensable book Land Rover: 65 Years of the 4 x 4 Workhorse, Rover originally wanted to display their new off-roader at the Geneva Show but the schedule was too tight.
The display models left the UK for The Netherlands on 28th April 1948.
Today, the first production Land Rover Series I HUE 166 (aka “Huey”), now resides in the British Motor Museum in Gaydon while the ‘lost’ Amsterdam vehicle was converted to RHD by the end of 1948.
On 25th June 1955 it was registered as SNX 910 and was last on the road circa 1960.
Over the next eight years, SNX found various homes around the West Midlands and in 1968, the Land Rover moved to Wales where it served as a static power source.
Twenty years later it returned to the Birmingham area, its engine now seized and in 2016, in the best tradition of classic vehicle discoveries, the prototype was found languishing in a garden.
This year marks the 70th birthday of the Land Rover, a milestone which will be marked with a succession of celebrations throughout 2018.
Appropriately, the first of these will be the restoration of this priceless 1948 Show Car by the Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works.
In the words of their director Tim Hannig:
“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 recognised as a Land Rover.”
Few visitors to the 1948 show would have envisaged the utilities on the Rover stand eventually becoming so famous – indeed so iconic – that it could be instantly identified via its silhouette alone.
But they did appreciate its potential as a workhorse of the utmost integrity.
And when SNX 910 has been refurbished, it will once again be ready to provide at least 70 years more service – in the great Land Rover tradition.
Celebrate the Land Rover's 70th anniversary at the Lancaster Insurance Classic and Supercars Show held at Sherborne Castle on 15th July 2018. For more information on the event, click here!