Following its reveal in February at the prestigious Royal Automobile Club in Pall Mall, the new owner of the first production Land-Rover – chassis 860001 – has now been confirmed.
INEOS Automotive, established in 2016 with the aim of offering a fresh perspective on the 4x4 industry, is the latest custodian of JUE 477 – the first vehicle to roll off the Solihull production line back on this very day in 1948 (27 July), and the one that subsequently began a 70-year history of Land-Rover manufacture.
Yasin Ali, Group Company Secretary at INEOS, was delighted to confirm the acquisition: “JUE 477 is a remarkable example and holds a special place in automotive history. We now have the opportunity to ensure that the vehicle is preserved for future generations to enjoy and that its past is documented.”
There is of course no denying that putting this particular Series One back on the road will be a lengthy process, but the project’s Chief Restorer, Julian Shoolheifer, is in no doubt that not only will JUE 477 drive once again, but that it will do so retaining an impressive amount of original content.
“It would be all too easy to hang the 70-year-old panels on an all-new chassis and put a different engine under the bonnet,” he explained, “but 860001 is unique in so many ways and we need to preserve, sympathetically restore and re-use parts wherever there is an opportunity to do so and using the most suitable methods – both traditional and contemporary – available to us.”
“With that ethos and approach in mind,” Shoolheifer continued, “the incredible patina will be kept where possible so that we are preserving and celebrating the history that JUE 477 offers.”
The entire process will be well-documented and, crucially, will be conducted in dialogue with Dr Andrew Nahum, Keeper Emeritus at the London Science Museum and curator of the recent high-profile exhibition 'Ferrari: Under the Skin', at the Design Museum.
“Transparency and clear aims are vital for a project such as this,” Nahum explained. “It will be my role to ensure that the specifics of the restoration are carried out in a manner fitting for a vehicle with such a special status. The thoughtful choice of all the treatments and finishes used throughout the restoration should make this the most informative and the most historically accurate early Land-Rover in existence”.
Images: Iain Gomes and Julian Shoolheifer