Twenty-five Range Rovers were used as mules, prototypes and pre-production vehicles badged as "VELAR" to disguise their true identity before the first actual Range Rover hit the dealership in 1970. This is that car. It's being brought back to life so it can go to a new home.
Chassis 26 is getting a nut-and-bolt restoration. The precious two-door went to Andrew Honychurch, a long time Range Rover enthusiast who managed to buy it back in 2000 with its original license plate number NXC 231H. Here's what he told to Hemmings about the challenge ahead:
I bought my vehicle as a lifelong Range Rover enthusiast; I understood the importance of the car. It had been largely unmolested, but like so many utility vehicles, had been used hard and was suffering from severe corrosion. The vehicle also had not retained its original V8, rather one from a Rover saloon, but I was lucky to find a new crated engine of the correct age and series to replace the engine fitted."
The chassis required welding at the rear end where they all suffer corrosion, and the body shell is now like new. Finding parts for these vehicles is extremely hard, but I was lucky to be searching many years ago when there was not so much interest in the accuracy of a restoration, so I sourced most correct parts over 12 years ago. I don't think I could restore a vehicle to this state of correctness now, purely due to a lack of correct parts. Unlike, say, the E-type restoration industry, very few [Range Rover] parts are remanufactured to correct specification, so one is left searching out good second-hands, which others are doing also. I recently paid £350 [$573] for a correct fuel cap!
Mr. Honychurch is not going to keep it though, so if you've read the story and feel like getting a piece of Land Rover history, don't hold back:
The vehicle is really fit for a museum, and it seems a shame to use it, but it is for sale, and the next owner can, of course, do with it what he or she likes," Andrew says. "I suspect as the Range Rover brand continues to grow, the value of this vehicle–the first registered Range Rover ever–will grow with it.
I say make it muddy again.