May 17 2018

Land Rover’s 70th birthday party in full swing

A staple of British automotive history has been revelling in its 70th birthday celebrations since the start of the year. Now, Land Rover’s festivities are about to reach their peak with an extravaganza dedicated to its iconic past…

The launch of ‘Green Oval’ dates back to April 30, 1948, when the iconic 4-wheel drive motor debuted at the Amsterdam Motor Show.

Kicking things off

A remarkable restoration of an original Landy marked the start the celebrations in January.

Missing for 63 years, this superb piece of history is one of just three 1948 pre-production Land Rovers and has been sympathetically restored by a team of preservation experts at the Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works in Coventry.

Its galvanised chassis and thick aluminium alloy body panels and a removable rear tub, which is unique to the pre-production models, have all been brought back to their former glory, finished off with the model’s original light green paint.

“This Land Rover is an irreplaceable piece of world automotive history and is as historically important as ‘Huey’, the first pre-production Land Rover,” says Tim Hannig, director of Jaguar Land Rover Classic.

Speaking before the official birthday, Mr Hannig added: “There is something charming about the fact that exactly 70 years ago this vehicle would have been undergoing its final adjustments before being prepared for the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show launch – where the world first saw the shape that’s now immediately recognised as a Land Rover.”

Major milestones

Looking back through the legendary 4x4’s 70-year career, Classic Car Buyer compiled a timeline of its launches, achievements and special mentions:

1948: Land Rover Series I launched at the Amsterdam Motor Show

1953: Long Wheelbase version of the Series I is introduced

1956: Oxford and Cambridge teams compete on London to Singapore expedition in a Series I

1958: Land Rover Series II unveiled

1970: Original two-door Range Rover goes on sale

1971: Land Rover Series Ill launched

1972: Range Rover crosses Darien Gap on 18,000-mile Trans­America expedition

1976: The one millionth Land Rover built

1979: A Range Rover wins the inaugural Paris-Dakar rally (and again in 1981)

1981: Land Rover begins partnership with Camel Trophy

1981: Four-door Range Rover released

1989: Land Rover Discovery, the third Land Rover model, goes on sale

1990: Original 'Landy' relaunched and renamed Defender

1994: Second generation Range Rover P38A launched

1997: All-new Freelander is unveiled with Hill Descent Control

2001: Third-generation L322 Range Rover with all-round independent air suspension revealed

2003: Inaugural G4 challenge sees 16 teams traverse USA, South Africa and Australia

2004: Range Stormer Concept previews performance Range Rover and three-door body

2004: Discovery 3/LR3, the third­ generation Discovery, launched at New York Motor Show

2005: All-new Range Rover Sport unveiled

2006: Freelander 2/LR2 launched the first Land Rover to be manufactured at Halewood

2009: Fourth generation of the Land Rover Discovery introduced

2010: Range Rover Evoque launched

2012: Fourth-generation L405 Range Rover introduced - the first all-aluminium SUV

2013: New generation of Range Rover Sport unveiled at New York Motor Show

2014: Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division is officially launched

2014: Range Rover Sport SVR debuts

2015: Trio of end-of-line Defender editions revealed with biggest sand drawing at Red Wharf Bay in the UK to commemorate Spencer Wilks' original Land Rover sketch.

2015: One-of-a-kind Land Rover 'Defender 2,000,000' sells for £400,000 at charity auction

2016: Last Defender rolls off the production line

2017: Land Rover launches the fourth Range Rover, the Velar

2018: Limited Edition Range Rover SV Coupe debuts at Geneva Motor Show

2018: Snow artist Simon Beck recreates a 250-metre wide equivalent of the Red Wharf Bay Defender sand outline, 2700m above sea level in the French Alps

Land Rover Legends event

The ultimate celebration of the 4-wheeler’s 70th year are taking place at Bicester Heritage in Oxfordshire on Saturday, May 26 and Sunday, May 27, 2018 in the new Land Rover Legends event.

Collectors, enthusiasts, preservationists and restorers will be out in force to witness some of the marque’s rarest and most extraordinary examples; from unique prototypes and pre-productions, to unusual conversions and stunning military models.

 As part of the show, Footman James has been running a competition to determine the best Land Rover story around.

Champion, Christian Battelley, who enamoured the judges with his story of Dido, the 1954 Series 1, will be interviewed at the event and will feature in the Land Rover Legends’ programme.

You can read up on Dido's story and the other finalists here.

Tickets for Land Rover Legends are available now