Range Rover chassis number 35500026A is the 26th Range Rover manufactured and is believed to be the first car Land Rover registered to themselves as a Range Rover on 27th may 1970. It is the first of the batch of 20 press launch cars built to near final production standard although they were fitted with aluminium bonnets which were not carried over into production due to difficulty in pressing the castellated shapes at the front.
The 20 press launch cars were shipped by transporter to Meudon hotel, Falmouth by the 28th May 1970 and were used for the launch of the ground breaking new model to the world’s press over six days from 1st June to 6th June.
According to the book, ‘The First Fifty’ written by Land Rover employees, Roger Crathorne and Geoff Miller, as well as Gary Pusey and James Taylor, the test route was well chosen to include off road trials on the blue hill mountains, followed by high speed capability on the runway at Raf St. Eval and an afternoon stop for oysters and a pint of beer at the Duchy of Cornwall oyster farm at Helford River!
After its services at the press launch, 0026A was returned to the factory and was retained by Land Rover until 30th April 1973 when it changed hands to Herbert Lomas limited. This company specialised in converting Range Rovers into ambulances, the fate of many of the early cars, but thankfully 0026A escaped and found its way into private ownership in 1976 with one Mr. John Hodgkinson, a power station engineering consultant. He travelled many miles in the car including trips to France, Monaco, Spain, Andorra and Portugal. Photos exist on file.
The Range Rover was spotted by Geoff Clark standing idle in Poole in Dorset in mid 1995 and was saved by an avid Range Rover collector. The current vendor bought chassis 26 in early 2000 and restored it to its near perfect condition over an extended period. Since completion it has been stored in a private heated garage and has covered purely test mileage since.
It is complete with new original front seats in the now impossible to find, vacuum-formed material and the vehicle presents itself in as new condition. A photographic history of the restoration, as well as photos of the press launch in June 1970 are available to the buyer.
It would be hard to find another range rover in such condition available for purchase with such provenance.