4 years ago

Onelife 25

  • Text
  • Rover
  • Vehicles
  • Jaguar
  • Defender
  • Expedition
  • Motor
  • Luxury
  • Models
  • Camel
  • Trophy
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 “It’s really an amazing story,” Mason smiles as he walks slowly around SNX 910, taking in every detail of its heavily worn body panels. “I had a small workshop in Birmingham and a guy came in one day asking if I’d be interested in buying two old Series 1 Land Rover vehicles that had been sitting in his back garden since 1988. If I wasn’t interested, he was going to scrap them as he needed the space cleared. I didn’t really think too much of it, so didn’t bother going over to look at them until two months later,” he recalls, shaking his head in disbelief. When Mason finally made it over to inspect the vehicles, he was presented with a complete car and “a total rotbox,” both buried up to their axles in 20 years of accumulated mud. After a price was agreed with the vendor, Mason and his friend Dave Amphiett spent nearly four months digging out both cars and getting them back to his workshop. It was only when Mason showed a series of pictures he’d taken of the cars to a friend – a keen Series 1 fan – that he realized that one of his purchases was possibly something rather special. “He identified the rotten car as a prototype from the steering column,” Mason explains. “The normal production unit is a single one-piece pressed bracket, whereas my car’s column was three brackets welded together.” Upon further inspection, Mason found that the chassis number 7 identified the car as an early prototype. “The engine was number 6, and the gearbox and radiator were both numbered 7. It all tied together. It was then that I knew I was in possession of a rare beast.” ENGINEERED FOR SUCCESS Land Rover sent a team led by company expert and historian Mike Bishop to go over L07, and its authenticity was confirmed. After purchasing it from Mason, the Land Rover team discovered during months of research that SNX 910 was an engine test vehicle, built in the early stages of 1948 and one of the first ten pre-production prototypes to be put through their paces by legendary Land Rover engineer Arthur Goddard, test driver Johnny Cullen and Maurice Wilks himself, Rover’s then technical chief, who came up with the whole idea of the Land Rover in the first place. Perhaps even more importantly, this was a launch vehicle at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show. “It’s safe to say that the Land Rover was very well received at the show,” states Arthur Goddard, now 96 years old, who was present at the launch. “It’s also important to remember that the car had been designed and engineered in a matter of months, and most of the testing was done by just three of us near Maurice Wilks’ holiday home in Anglesey. Only ten of the prototype vehicles were ready at the time of the show. I drove a prototype, number 3, to Amsterdam myself. It was my first trip abroad,” he laughs. “Ultimately though, the success of the Land Rover changed Rover’s fortunes.” Indeed, 24,000 examples were produced in the first two years. After its Amsterdam debut, number 7 was converted from its original LHD specification to RHD in late 1948. It was then kept by Land Rover until 1955, when it was sold to its first owner from Solihull. According to the car’s original buff-colored paper logbook, which miraculously has also survived, the car then passed through a number of Midlands-based owners until it reached its final guardian, Alexander Maddison of Alderminster near Stratford-upon-Avon, who had a dairy business, and also bought and sold cars. Mr. Maddison owned it from1967 to 1969, then the trail went cold; that was until Reg Mason received the visitor to his workshop 48 years later. “THE CAR HAD BEEN DESIGNED AND ENGINEERED IN A MATTER OF MONTHS, AND MOST OF THE TESTING WAS DONE BY JUST THREE OF US” ARTHUR GODDARD, 1948 LAND ROVER DEVELOPMENT ENGINEER Top left: June Maddison sees SNX 910 again for the first time since 1969 Bottom center: The buffcolored original paper logbook miraculously survives, preserving its owner history, including Alexander Maddison, June’s late husband, who purchased it in 1967 23


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

© 2020 Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC