What's the Story?
Pre-production Land Rover number 7 has been missing for as long as anybody can recall. It wasn’t around to be counted when Tony Hutchings prepared his book about the pre-pros (Land-Rover – the Early Years) in 1982. Tony recorded it as having left-hand drive, gave the date it entered the Despatch Department, and said that it went to Mr Swaine (Jack Swaine, Rover’s engines man). But all he could say after that was that it was ‘Lost!’
Well, it isn’t lost any more. A tip-off from a friend in one of the Rover car clubs led me to it – just before a team from the JLR Heritage division, who were extremely interested in it. And with reason: it’s a long time since anybody discovered a lost pre-production Land Rover, and this is remarkably original.
‘It came from one of my customers,’ said the workshop owner, who wishes to remain anonymous. ‘He’s planning to move house and he told me he had these two old Land Rovers sitting in his garden. If I didn’t want them, they were going down the tip!
‘So I went down to have a look about six months ago. He said he thought one was a prototype of some sort. So I made him an offer. They were both in his back garden, and this one was up to its axles in mud. We jacked it up first, then I dragged it out with my Range Rover. I got it back here last week.’
The sheer excitement of being one of the first people to see a long-lost pre-production Land Rover isn’t something that I’ll forget in a hurry. If ever!'
Our Favourite Bit
R07 is extraordinarily original. Its engine, starter motor and axles with long-nose differentials are all numbered 06, and the back body is clearly hand-made. The windscreen has the pre-pro sockets for the hood sticks, and the steering shroud is a three-piece pre pro type. The flywheel housing and gearbox cover are hand-made. The wings, front panel and grille with it aren’t original, though.
However, the transfer box is number 640 and is a production type. The pedals aren’t the hand-made bronze type but are production items. The brakes aren’t the original Lockheed type but production items by Girling. And the radiator isn’t the original – not surprising after 68 years, but that’s provided further clues to the vehicles history.
And thoughts from LRO?
Negotiations are under way for the sale of R07. The owner insists he wants it to go to somebody who will retain as much of its originality as possible. ‘If I can’t get what I want for it, I’ll restore it myself,’ he says – and he will, too. He once ran the workshop for a big Rover dealer, and has won concours prizes for classic cars. We firmly believe it’s in good hands.
This vehicle appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of LRO. Current and Back issues are available to download on digital devices here. Please note, we only hold stocks of the the last three back issues.