Here’s how Land Rover celebrated its 70th birthday
A huge convoy of Land Rovers from the factory to Classic Works, VIPs including Sir Ranulph Fiennes and a special birthday broadcast – see it all here
Land Rover celebrated its 70th birthday today with a convoy of vehicles from the historic Solihull factory to the Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works HQ in Ryton, Coventry – followed by a gathering of long-term employees, explorers and specialists to take part in the filming of a special 70th birthday video.
The event took place exactly 70 years to the day since the Land Rover was revealed to the public for the first time, at the Amsterdam motor show. Guests included Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Nick Wilks – son of the inventor of the Land Rover Spencer Wilks – and the seven-strong Woodall family, who between them have worked for Land Rover for 180 years.
AutoClassics had the privilege of driving the second-oldest vehicle in the convoy, a 1956 Series 1 station wagon (registration VAC 265, second from front in the pictures above) that served as the test bed for the then-new 2.25-litre petrol engine. It’s now part of the world-famous Dunsfold Collection.
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Virtually every model was represented in the convoy, including an example of the new limited-edition V8 Works Defender conversion. The convoy took the scenic route from the factory, via the grounds of Packington Hall (below), where many of the press pictures were taken in the early days of Land Rover, and past Spencer Wilks’ house, close to the recently opened Classic Works HQ.
Once at Works, the visitors and VIPs became part of the live studio audience for the 70th birthday video production, presented by Quentin Willson and motorsport commentator Andy Jaye.
Did you spot AutoClassics editor David Lillywhite in the audience? The video was filmed in the showroom area of the Works building, where several important Land Rovers were displayed. These included: ‘HUEY’, the world’s earliest known surviving Land Rover; chassis 7, one of the Amsterdam show cars; the Darien Gap Range Rover; a prototype ‘Velar’ Range Rover; and one of the Oxford and Cambridge Expedition Series 1s.
AutoClassics was also given access to the Classic Works workshop and the storage area at the back (known as the ‘toybox’), which had been rearranged since our last visit to display even more of the historic Land Rovers and Range Rovers kept there.
See more of the convoy here...
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