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“ THE ORIGINAL IDEA
“ THE ORIGINAL IDEA WAS TO DO 25 VEHICLES. THEY WERE SOLD OUT WITHIN A WEEK” MIKE BISHOP 66
TREASURE HUNT STEP 3: SPEC Andy Armstrong, Build Engineer “We’re hand-building a car every 10-12 weeks and each customer can choose from the options of the period. We stick to the original mechanical specifications, but they can choose soft- or hardtop, left- or right-hand drive, 80-inch or 86-inch chassis, seats coverings, even the rare Light Green bodywork. To preserve the unique history of each vehicle, its panels will be repainted by the Land Rover Classicapproved body shop in one of the five original period colors. Alongside Light Green, there’s Bronze Green, Royal Air Force Blue, Dove Grey and Poppy Red. If there are specific details like a brass badge or door sign that tells the story behind the vehicle, we will try to preserve them for the customer.” The restoration process is unique to each vehicle and is what makes this workshop very different from anything you will find elsewhere in major automotive factories. “This is not a manufacturing facility. It’s a restoration facility,” explains build engineer Andy Armstrong. “Each car is different and will require different parts to renew it. Car One has taken two to three months to restore.” Car One, the first customer vehicle to be completed, is another Australian find. Back in the day, it was originally shipped as parts from Solihull to Brisbane, where it was assembled by a firm named Annand & Thompson, whose brass badge is still on the dashboard. It was then sold to a farmer from Hughenden in the Outback. Mike unveils the original door panel with the names of the town and the farmer still clearly visible. “We are staying true to each vehicle’s individual story,” he explains. “On this car, we are even putting the rivets in the same way they did in Brisbane when it was first assembled, which was opposite to the way Solihull used to fit them.” CORRECT IN EVERY DETAIL The whole process is one of detective work and painstaking detail. The end products retain as many of their original parts as possible, including engines stripped and rebuilt by the Land Rover Power Train Department and offering a 12-month or 12,000-mile warranty to their new owners. “Our customers are leaders in their field,” says Mike. “They’re busy and hard to reach on the phone, but when you talk to them, their story always resonates with your own. It’s one of connection: growing up on a farm, learning to drive in one, maybe going on holidays in one. A lot of our customers lead such busy lives that they don’t have the time to search the restorer market. Now they can come to Land Rover. We will pull the drawings out and do it for you.” This is what makes the Land Rover Reborn project special. After all, a thriving cottage industry in Series I restoration already exists. What can Jaguar Land Rover bring to the market? The answer is in the original drawings. “We can categorically prove how the original vehicles were built and finished,” says Mike as he pores over ageing paperwork. “We go into the engineering archives and get them out. That’s the benefit of us doing the restoration. We have this knowledge. This is our intellectual property and means we can do a better restoration on the detail.” Such information also means that the workshop team can order up new parts to the original spec. “Thanks to the original drawings, we’ve been able to put Series I parts back into production in the Solihull tool room,” says Mike. “They can make a part to the exact specifications that were signed off in the 1950s.” It’s this level of detail and authenticity that allows these reborn Series I vehicles to command price tags of between ,000 to 0,000. But the reason why they cause such excitement is that they were, in fact, revolutionary. “The steps they were making in 1947 and 1948 are still present in a contemporary Range Rover,” says Mike. “They set the whole industry a blueprint that has been followed ever since.” Standing proudly in the Reborn workshop, ready to be presented to its new owner, is Car One. This Series I has travelled from Outback Australia back to Solihull and is now ready to begin again where it first left off. “She was a bit beaten up, but the integrity of the vehicle was there,” says Mike with affection. “We were able to bring her home and preserve that integrity.” Above: Andy Armstrong, Land Rover Reborn Build Engineer getting comfortable in Car One 67
Land Rover Magazine showcases stories from around the world that celebrate inner strength and the drive to go above and beyond
Land Rover stands for not only the most capable premium vehicles, but a state of mind where a sense of curiosity, exploration and wonder informs all of life’s adventures. Encounter this throughout the latest issue of Land Rover Magazine, from meeting a herd of Ice Age survivors on the Dutch coast with the Land Rover Discovery, to the most innovative sustainable architecture on a Californian journey with the Range Rover Evoque