Automotive history

How the very first Land Rover was lost, found, restored and sent on its biggest adventure

by Nik Berg
15 August 2023 1 min read
How the very first Land Rover was lost, found, restored and sent on its biggest adventure

It was originally built for the King, sold to a professor and then left to rot in a farm, but the first Land Rover ever made would, eventually, go on to cross the Gobi Desert.

Delivered on 29 July 1948 JUE 477, the first Land Rover off the production line lived with the imaginatively-named Professor Ewen McEwen for over 20 years before he sold it on to a farmer in the North East of England. After performing its agricultural duties the 4×4 was abandoned in a field for decades.

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Tracked down by Land Rover specialist Julian Shoolheifer, chassis number one was recovered and put up for sale. Although he couldn’t purchase the rights to continue building the Defender as he had hoped INEOS boss Sir Jim Ratcliffe was able to buy the car in a sealed bid auction.

Ratcliffe had it restored, keeping it as original as possible, rather than bringing it up to concours condition and then took it upon the greatest adventure of its (and his) life.

Let Richard Hammond tell you the full story of this tale of detective work, hard craft and exploration in the video below.

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