Exactly 70 years ago today (Friday), a new brand was introduced to the automotive world with a showcase of three all-terrain vehicles that would be known as Land Rovers. And the rest, as they say, is history.
A key component of that history, one of the three Land Rover prototype vehicles – L03 – will be shown at Land Rover Legends later this month. L03 was driven from London to Amsterdam by a young Ernie Bacon (son of Mr. Bacon – the then manager of Rover Company’s London depot at Seagrave Road in Fulham). L03 was ‘despatched out’ of Seagrave Road by Mr. Bacon on Tuesday 27 April 1948, and driven to Amsterdam by a young Ernie to join the Rover Company showcase, launching what was to become among the most iconic automotive brands in the world.
After the motor show, L03 successfully made the journey home to London from the Netherlands, and soon after its return was fitted with a new gearbox – no. 11. Later in May, L03 was registered to the Rover Company Ltd in Solihull as a demonstrator, and in June was despatched to Vallvidrera Hills in Barcelona for the global press launch of the Land Rover. It also made an appearance at the 1948 Barcelona International Trade Fair, before returning to the UK, being converted to right hand drive and then used by Rover Company Director, R L Wilks – nephew of Maurice Wilks – Land Rover’s founding father.
L03 is clearly steeped in Land Rover history, and through the 1950s and 60s changed hands a couple of times before being bought in 1974 by the current owner. Lovingly maintained and restored, the vehicle has participated in every major Land Rover milestone since – with a number of television appearances under its belt over the decades.
Just last week the car was driven back to Amsterdam as part of the Land Rover Series One Club’s 70th anniversary celebrations, and will be exhibited exclusively at Land Rover Legends, in its rightful place as one of the show’s ‘Star Cars’.