The Very First Production Land Rover Spent Decades Hiding on a Farm

The very first vehicles off the production line tend to receive one of two fates: They’re either immediately placed in an automaker’s museum, still covered in champagne and balloons from the assembly line launch party, or they’re simply sent out to be sold and often get lost to time.

The very first Land Rover to roll out of Solihull received the latter fate. Or so it seemed. After surviving several decades in the British countryside, it was rescued just a few years ago and given a sympathetic restoration. And now the Series I 4×4, known in the Land Rover community by its original license plate JUE 477, is getting its own book.

We won’t spoil the whole tale. Instead, here’s about as much of the story as a movie trailer usually offers: The very first Land Rover off the line at Solihull was originally scheduled to be shown to King George VI in 1948, but instead wound up working in mining sites and farms in northeast England. After more than two decades, it found its way into the care of a farmer, having been sold to him for just £15 at the time in very used condition. The farmer could not make up his mind whether to keep driving it or use it for spare parts, and decided to just store it on his farm.

Did the farmer actually know what he had when he bought it?

Let’s just say that the 4×4 did not emerge for decades after being put to use on the farm, and spent even more time in hiding after being identified as the very first Land Rover off the line. And it wasn’t until just a few years ago until it was finally pulled out into the sunlight.

The 128-page book from Porter Press, written by Martin Port, will tell the full story of the Land Rover and will contain 240 photos within detailing its life, rediscovery and careful restoration.

“This new book from Porter Press tells the unlikely story of the world’s first production Land-Rover, chassis number 860001, a vehicle of historic significance which was hidden away in decaying condition for almost four decades,” the publishing company says.

Titled JUE 477, the book goes on sale this month from Porter Press and will be available for £30 in the U.K. Pricing in the U.S. should be announced later this month.

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