Legendary pre-production ‘L03’ set for Land Rover Legends

One of three prototype Land Rovers used at the Amsterdam Motor Show is to appear during the inaugural Land Rover Legends event at Bicester Heritage on May 26-27

L03 – one of three prototype vehicles marking Land Rover’s world debut at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show, later owned by Land Rover’s founding Wilks family – will be shown exclusively during Land Rover Legends on May 26-27 at Bicester Heritage.

Fittingly, this news has been announced almost 70 years to the day since the 1948 show first showcased Britain's humble 4x4. A key component of that history, L03 will take pride of place among various other special Land Rovers during the inaugural event, including the 1989 Camel Trophy winning 110 and ‘Beaver Bullet’ Range Rover.

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L03 was driven from London to Amsterdam by a young Ernie Bacon – the son of Mr Bacon, then manager of the Rover company’s London depot, the early Land Rover dispatched towards the continent out of Seagrave Road, Fulham on Tuesday, April 27, 1948 to join the other Rover display vehicles at the bi-yearly event.

Successfully returning home after a riotous reception in Amsterdam, the transmission was removed and replaced with gearbox number 11. Less than a month later, L03 found itself registered to the Rover Company Ltd in Solihull as a demonstrator before being sent to Barcelona for the global press launch of the Land Rover brand.

L03 also made an appearance at the 1948 Barcelona International Trade Fair before returning to the UK, then converted to right hand drive and personally used by Rover Company Director, R L Wilks – nephew of Maurice Wilks, Land Rover’s founding father.

As far as history goes, this pre-production Land Rover Series I is drowning in heritage. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s the vehicle changed hands only a couple of times before landing with the current custodian in 1974.

Since then, L03 has been lovingly maintained and sympathetically restored having taken part in every major Land Rover milestone to have taken place until today, having appeared on Top Gear and in documentaries fronted by Sir Ranulph Fiennes to name but a few TV appearances over the decades.

To commemorate 70 years of Land Rover, the Landy has just returned from a trip to Amsterdam as part of the Land Rover Series One Club’s anniversary celebrations. The next venture is to attend Land Rover Legends, in its rightful place as one of the show’s ‘Star Cars’.

Tickets for the event are available on the Land Rover Legends website.

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