The remarkable history & restoration of the world’s first production Land-Rover
By Martin Port
Published by Porter Press International
Publication date: September 2020
Jacketed hardback ● RRP: £30 standard edition, limited special launch edition £45, signed by Martin Port and Julian Shoolheifer ● ISBN: 978-1-907085-78-9 ● 128 pages ● 280x240mm landscape ● 240+ images
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.
Built in 1948, Land-Rover number one was intended for presentation to King George VI, but actually ended up working on farms and mining sites in north east England. After 22 years of hard service, this well-used workhorse was sold to Northumberland farmer David Fairless for just £15 – and he wasn’t sure whether to continue using the vehicle or break it up for spares. Before long, 860001 lay forgotten and exposed to the elements on the farm.
Although Fairless never found the time to restore 860001, in June 1998 he took it on a trailer to the Land Rover Series One Club’s 50th anniversary rally. Despite its ruinous state, 860001 created such a stir that when Fairless got back home, he hid the vehicle in a tumbledown barn, barricaded behind an assortment of hay bales and vehicle parts.
In 2017, after Fairless’s death, 860001 was liberated from the barn. Sold to INEOS founder and chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the vehicle was then treated to a sympathetic 18-month restoration, retaining as much of the original vehicle as possible.
In this 128-page book, author Martin Port – a highly-regarded Land-Rover expert – sheds light on every stage in 860001’s life, a fascinating story accompanied by more than 240 photographs. The special launch edition of this book is signed by the author and 860001’s chief restorer, Julian Shoolheifer.
- Special launch edition, signed by author and chief restorer.
- How the Land-Rover legend was born, giving Britain and the world a Jeep-inspired workhorse.
- Completed on 19 July 1948, 860001 was officially the first production Land-Rover, and the first of a range of ‘go anywhere’ vehicles which is still being built, in one form or another, more than 70 years later.
- When 860001 was first registered in 1950 (as JUE 477), its first custodian was distinguished mechanical engineer Ewen McEwen, a friend of the Land-Rover’s originators, brothers Maurice and Spencer Wilks. At this time McEwen was Professor of Agricultural Engineering at the University of Durham, but he went on to become Director of Engineering with Massey Ferguson and Vice-Chairman (Engineering) of John Lucas Ltd.
- After almost certainly being used for agricultural training purposes, 860001 moved to a farm in Stanhope, County Durham. In December 1970 the vehicle was sold to local farmer David Fairless for £15 – a sum he remembered as “the proper price to pay for an old derelict Land-Rover at the time.”
- Despite allowing 860001 to decay, Fairless trailered it 190 miles to Shugborough Hall, Staffordshire, in 1998, to Land-Rover’s 50th anniversary – then hid it under hay bales and vehicle parts in a tumbledown barn.
- After being sold in 2017 to Sir Jim Ratcliffe, 860001 was painstakingly restored under the watchful eye of Andrew Nahum, Keeper Emeritus at the Science Museum, retaining as much of the original vehicle as possible.
- More than 240 photographs, many showing 860001 in its ‘barn-find’ condition and the steps taken during its painstaking restoration.
The author: Martin Port has owned and run classic cars for nearly 30 years – from the humble Morris Minor to AC Buckland and Porsche 912, but his overwhelming passion is for classic Land-Rovers. Since buying his first as an antidote to the pressures of Porsche ownership, he has explored Europe and North Africa at the wheel of various examples and used a number of series models as his preferred daily commuting vehicle, regularly covering in excess of 500 miles per week – becoming very familiar with fuel stations in the process. He currently owns a 1959 Series II ‘Trans-Africa’ 88in that drove from Cape Town to London in the early 1960s and is still sign-written on the hard-top detailing the explorative journey. Martin graduated from art college in 1993, and has worked as a graphic designer, photographer and writer for clients such as Liverpool FC and McLaren F1 team. In 2003 he became Art Editor of Classic & Sports Car – a position he held for 16 years before embarking on a freelance career in 2019. He is a contributor to Classic Land Rover and Classic & Sports Car, editor of the Series 2 Club magazine Built 2 Last, and in 2019 published Mini Scrapbook, 60 years of a British icon.