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Onelife 26

  • Text
  • Rover
  • Vehicles
  • Cape
  • Epic
  • Defender
  • Rugby
  • Donegal
  • Terrain
  • Phev
  • Arctic
Share the passion of a Land Rover-loving community in a remote corner of India | Experience the thrills of driving on ice in the Range Rover Velar | Explore stunning Donegal with seafarer Monty Halls and his family | Relive the child-like sense of wonder captured at the Above & Beyond Tour | See why the Range Rover PHEV impressed mountaineer Jimmy Chin | Encounter the most powerful Defender: the Classic Works V8 special

CLASSIC WORKS

CLASSIC WORKS 74

“My uncle had a first-generation Land Rover Discovery,” remembers Tim Hannig, director of Land Rover Classic. “We would go to visit him in Denmark. His was a messy hunter’s car, but I remember him unlocking the big side-opening back door and I’d climb in and sit sideways on the bench seat in the back. I was eight years old and it was just ultra-cool.” Similar Land Rover stories abound, all of them contributing to a history that is now 70 years old and spans every continent (and even a few tracts of ocean – remember the first-ever crossing of the Bering Strait by a land vehicle in 2008?). Now, the Land Rover story has a home in a new 150,695-square-feet, purpose-built, .2 million facility in the British Midlands. Classic Works is a full sales, servicing and restoration facility – one of the largest of its kind in the world. A showroom greets visitors at the threshold, backed by huge glass doors revealing 54 workshop bays with dedicated strip-down, remanufacturing and assembly zones. Behind all this, like the secret at the back of the closet, lies the Classic Collection – a warehouse full of over 500 vehicles. “Classic Works has almost taken the role of a museum without being a museum,” explains Hannig. “On a tour, you will learn a lot about where the company comes from, but you’re in an active working environment. It’s living history.” IN PURSUIT OF PERFECTION Why invest so much in a facility that is focused on out-ofproduction vehicles? For Hannig, there are two elements. “One is to celebrate the history of the brand and let people experience it,” he explains. With a history as rich as Land Rover, there’s no shortage of things to celebrate. But it’s the second element that has made Classic Works a reality. “This has to be a sustainable undertaking,” says Hannig. It turns out that the restoration of old Land Rover vehicles causes a lot of excitement. “When we did the recreation of the 1948 Series I production line in 2015, the response was huge,” remembers Greg King, Classic Works engineer. “When I first looked at this it was just a study to see what was possible. I don’t think we understood quite how successful it was going to be.” King is, by his own admission, “Land Rover through and through.” He fell for them as a child growing up on a south Devon farm, and joined the company as a 16-year-old apprentice. The opportunity to be part of a project like this was his ultimate challenge. “We’ve got all the original drawings going back to the 1940s,” King explains. Such know-how means that Land Rover can deliver restoration projects to a level that is unrivalled. But blueprints are nothing without the expertise to bring them to life. And in a sector as specialized as classic cars, Hannig believes having the From cosmetic to powertrain, Classic Works is fully equipped to restore Land Rover vehicles of any age back to life. Bottom right: General manager Felix Welch right people is critical. Two years ago, some 35 employees worked out of a corner of the Solihull plant. Today, 140 specialists fill the bays of the dedicated Classic Works facility. “Customers trust us with their vehicles. A classic car is an emotional affair,” he insists. “We need to give the vehicle that same level of respect.” The hands-on nature of the work means that quality control can’t be built in as it is on factory production lines. “We cannot robot-check if the wheel nuts are fixed to the right torque,” Hannig admits. “Every car is different. That’s why we have to have people who are not only capable and highly skilled, but also motivated to pay special attention to these classics, every day.” “ A CLASSIC IS AN EMOTIONAL AFFAIR AND WE NEED TO RESPECT THAT” IN PURSUIT OF THE HORIZON The existing restoration industry is often small-scale. The creation of Classic Works stays true to that spirit, but brings with it the added benefits of operating at the top end. “There is a positive momentum created by Classic Works,” Hannig explains. “There are gaps in our parts catalogs and we are determined to improve it. Last year, we implemented 150 new parts. We need the enthusiasts to work with us on that.” By pooling knowledge, the industry can identify the most needed components. “We then have the ability to invest, which is good for everybody,” says Hannig. “And we are generating knowledge by working on the cars, allowing us to tool up new spare parts available to anyone. The person who restores at home in his garage deserves a good spare part as much as anyone else.” Classic Works is the first Land Rover retail outlet – classic or new – anywhere. Until now, the company has been a manufacturer and wholesaler. By inviting the public not only to a shop window, but right onto the workshop floor, they are breaking new territory. In doing so, they are connecting with customers like never before. “Tours of the site have been full since we started,” says Felix Welch, general manager at Classic Works. “These cars are very close to being works of art, and they’re attracting people who are relatively new to the world of classic cars, as well as firm fans. Last Sunday, we had a Land Rover Breakfast Club and 52 50th Anniversary Defender vehicles showed up – the biggest such gathering ever.” Classic Works now has its sights set even further afield. A second facility is already open in Essen, Germany, and planning for a North American center is underway. “We will provide a service where there is a demand for it,” says Hannig, adding with a wry smile: “Land Rover didn’t stop at the borders of the UK. In fact, it went a long way beyond.” 75

 

Land Rover

Land Rover Magazine 39

 

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

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