In pictures: Land Rover Legends at Bicester Heritage

The inaugural Land Rover Legends event at Bicester Heritage has proven a hit, bringing together some of the greatest Landys from 70 years of the best 4x4xfar

While you were tucked up in bed enduring the greatest nationwide lightning storm of our generation, we hope you spared a thought for those camping overnight during the latest two-day event at Bicester Heritage. Luckily, guests were unfazed as, being Land Rover enthusiasts, it would have taken more than some bad weather to deter their attendance at the inaugural Land Rover Legends event at Bicester Heritage.

The show was lead by TV’s Mark Evans with guests including Tim Slessor of the Oxford-Cambridge expedition, Camel Trophy winners Joe and Bob Ives, Phillip Bashall of the worshipped Dunsfold Land Rover collection and Chris Bishop, managing director of restoration firm Bishops 4x4. Droves of aficionados crowded the demonstration hangar to get up close with genuine legends from the Land Rover stable.

More Land Rover Legends

Legends such as the record-breaking (27 times over) ‘Beaver’ Bullet Range Rover, Series IIA V8 test bed, Maestro-derived Freelander 1 test vehicle, ‘Velar’ prototype Range Rover, 1948 pre-production L03 and Range Rover CSK and P38 Linley, to name but a few!

Between live interviews on stage, a parade of Series I and Series II vehicles enjoyed a lap of honour around the display hangar before burbling across the ex-RAF base, including a rare Tickford Station Wagon, the recently discovered RAF ‘Vehicle 41 AA40’ Series I, pre-production vehicle R23 and an insanely rare Series II 4x2 – one of the only vehicles Land Rover has produced solely with two-wheel drive.

One of the main attractions remained Dunsfold’s replica of the long-lost Centre-Steer prototype, presenting as close as we’ll get to the original ‘Genesis’ Land Rover. While many claim it’s out there waiting to be rediscovered, general consensus among historians suggests it was either scrapped or reconverted back to a WW2 Jeep.

It wasn’t all about celebrating the past, however. Jaguar Land Rover were not only present with their Heritage department – showcasing ‘Swampy’ the Range Rover among pristine classic examples – but drivers from Land Rover’s experience team were also on hand to offer passenger rides, demonstrating the capabilities of the new Discovery 5.

Tackling a man-made off-road course, with a hydraulic ramp to take passengers to 45 degrees before crawling down on a wave of electronically-reinforced terrain settings, the drive wasn’t for those afraid of heights.

Club displays were presented in healthy abundance, with the Camel Trophy Owners’ club and Project Jay stand (dedicated to preserving pre-production first-generation Discovery models) attracting visitors of all ages.

The Range Rover Register welcomed attendees to view seldom-seen special edition models, whereas the CVC Register brought along the very P38 employed to keep security tight at Princess Diana’s funeral back in 1997, alongside one of the earliest surviving first-generation Range Rover Sports and a plethora of pre-production Freelanders.

The Series II Club stand stole the show, however; claiming the ‘Best Club Stand’ award presented by a panel of judges consisting of:

  • Patrick Cruywagen, editor of Land Rover Monthly
  • Philip Bashall, manager of The Dunsfold Collection
  • Chris Bishop, managing director of Bishops 4x4 Ltd
  • David Bond, director of Footman James
  • Paul Sweetenham, one of the founders of British watch brand Farer
  • Calum Brown, representing AutoClassics

Out of the three categories, the 'best restored vehicle' was a 1976 Land Rover 101-inch Forward Control; fully restored from the ground up over a period of 3 years some two decades ago.

The Brian Bashall Memorial Award went to ‘Oxford’, one of two Land Rover Series Is that tackled the London to Singapore expedition – owner Adam Bennet rightfully recognised for his achievement in sympathetically restoring such an iconic Land Rover.

The ‘best bespoke vehicle’ was awarded to an incredibly unusual Series I Grip Karosse, a tailored-Swedish made example offering a fully-enclosed and insulated cabin built onto the standard Land Rover bulkhead – mainly as most Swedes refused to freeze solid due to panel gaps and that trademark canvas roof. One of the most impressive aspects is a working heater; something of a myth to regular Land Rover drivers.

A surprise to owner Monique Bass, but certainly not to the rest of us, was the announcement that her prized possession – a simply outstanding 1991 Discovery 1 Tdi – had taken the award for ‘most original vehicle’. Competition was fierce, with Chris Jordan’s immaculate Freelander 1 ‘Dippy’ and a Defender 50th Anniversary drawing attention far and wide. In AutoClassics’ view, it was a genuine delight to see both the Discovery and Freelander so well represented. We’ll be taking Monique’s Discovery out for an adventure later in the year.

‘It’s been a great turn out,’ Matthew Parkin, head of department at Brightwells Auctions, explained. ‘There has been a gap in the market for this kind of show, and the vehicles have been simply amazing.’

Mark Evans agreed, explaining his love for the green oval. ‘The show has been experimental, but it's been amazing. They [Land Rovers] have flaws, but that’s why we love them. We see ourselves in their design. It’s why they become part of the family.’

While we couldn’t agree more, one person who might not have appreciated his own Land Rover was our staff writer. Being such a devotee to the Solihull marque, Calum was determined to get his Series III 88” running for the big day. And it did! For about 20 minutes – mainly thanks to contributor Chris Jordan and his loud shirt. The full low-down on that story will be published next week…

In essence, the first in what is destined to become a yearly event demonstrated that while other car brands have owners’ clubs and a fan scene, Land Rover owners have an entire culture in which to enjoy. Here’s to next year!

AutoClassics' Land Rover Legends gallery!

Photography by Gillian Carmoodie, Chris Jordan and Calum Brown

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