The Land-Rover (the name was endearingly hyphenated until 1979!) was launched at the Amsterdam Motor Show in April 1948 and demand outstripped supply immediately. Welsh farmers greeting the new machine as enthusiastically as Kenyan tea planters. This initially shocked Rover but their Chairman’s report of 1948 ventured, ‘Land-Rover production may well exceed our car output eventually’. By 1950 Rover were building twice as many Land-Rovers as cars!
Immediately post war, having taken on a huge wartime shadow factory in Solihull, Rover needed business to maintain this space and workforce. However, Government officials were only allocating resources to companies engaged in export. Maurice Wilks, younger brother of Rover MD Spencer Wilks and the firm’s Technical Director, realised there was a demand for army surplus Jeeps after using one on his land in Anglesey. He reasoned a new vehicle of that type would sell at home and, crucially, overseas. As a short term stopgap it could be brought to market quickly and keep his workforce in jobs. With steel in short supply but aluminium available, Rover built a 4×4 prototype in autumn 1947 and rapidly developed this into the production aluminium bodied Land-Rover. It remains fundamentally the same utilitarian vehicle today and around two million have been produced – not bad for a short-term stopgap.
This stunning 1957 version of these iconic British 4X4 vehicles has the desirable 2 litre petrol engine, and has been in the same family ownership since circa 1961. It was subject to a comprehensive professional restoration in the early nineties, including a new galvanised chassis endorsed by the “Series One Club”, engine overhaul by specialists etc. Even the re-galvanising was sourced from a specialist who recreated the original “Leaf effect”. This resulted in an outright win at the “All Rover Club International Concours” and David Bowyer award in 1994. This Land Rover has been dry stored and professionally maintained and has completed less than 3,000 miles since. All numbers are original and this is probably the finest available anywhere today.