5 years ago

Onelife 25

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Look back at the birth of the original Land Rover | How Land Rover has driven adventure and scientific exploration | GQ Editor Dylan Jones talks inspiration with Chief Design Officer Gerry McGovern | Exploring the potential impact of electrification and connected vehicles | Tackling the 999 steep steps up to Heaven’s Gate in China


PRE-PRODUCTION CAR NO. 7 “BRITAIN’S MOST VERSATILE VEHICLE - THE LAND ROVER. FOR THE FARMER, THE COUNTRYMAN AND FOR GENERAL INDUSTRIAL USE” THE ACTUAL SIGN WORDING FROM LAND ROVER’S STAND AT THE 1948 AMSTERDAM MOTOR SHOW From the street, it’s hard for passers-by to appreciate the much redeveloped and constantly evolving history of Land Rover’s Lode Lane factory in Solihull, UK. The company’s latest and most advanced vehicles, including the Range Rover Velar, the Range Rover and the Range Rover Sport plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) * , are made here, but beyond the perimeter and stringent security survives a modest building that’s the very nucleus of Land Rover’s storied past. Originally constructed in 1939 as the second of two ‘shadow factories’ to prepare for potential war, Lode Lane was first used to assemble Bristol Hercules aircraft engines, before being taken over by Rover in 1945 for car production. The development, engineering and testing of pre-production Land Rover vehicles started here in 1947, and it was in the engineering department in Block 1 that the very first Land Rover Series 1 pre-production cars numbered 01 to 48 were built. Later, Series 1, 2, 2a, 3, 3a and Defender models would also be built here, albeit in Block 3, until production finally ended in January 2016. One of the few original buildings still remaining at Lode Lane, the weathered brickwork of Block 1 has witnessed Land Rover history from day one. Even its glass roof sections are still covered in fading WW2-era camouflage. An appropriate setting, then, for a very special homecoming. For today, Block 1 is welcoming a very distinguished guest – the once long-lost number L07 pre-production Land Rover that debuted to the world as ‘Britain’s Most Versatile Vehicle’ at the Amsterdam Motor Show on April 30, 1948. It was one of the first Land Rover vehicles ever to have been seen in public, alongside its sister cars L03 and L05 (L for left-hand drive), yet this highly significant vehicle was sold off in June 1955 and registered for UK streets as SNX 910. With no record of its whereabouts since late 1968, it was presumed lost. But, almost magically, it has been found, fittingly by someone with a long personal association with Lode Lane. Above: SNX 910 is unveiled to previous owners Reg Mason and June Maddison Top right: The car back in the very place it was born Below right: Reg Mason saved it from scrapping, but he didn’t realize its significance at the time LUCKY NUMBER 7 Reg Mason knows the site, having started working here at the tender age of 14 on the Rover P5 production line, adjacent to where Land Rover vehicles were built. A Land Rover fan through and through, the now retired Mason’s subsequent career with the brand spanned another 25 years in a variety of different roles, but he never really expected to be back in the original buildings. However, a chance visitor to his independent workshop in 2016 was to set in motion a chain of events that would see him return to Block 1 today, standing next to an early prototype Land Rover. * Vehicle’s estimated availability is Summer 2018. 20


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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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