The FINANCIAl -- Land Rover has re-created history by building an authentic replica of the production line used to manufacture its first 4x4 in 1948. The ‘Defender Celebration Line’ re-creates in detail how the first Series I Land Rover was built at the Solihull manufacturing plant just after the Second World War, according to Tata Sons Ltd.
The new visitor attraction, which opened to the public today, forms part of a new Defender tour and showcases replica models in various stages of production, each one meticulously built using identical parts and in precisely the same way as the original Series I.
The display gives an insight into life on a car production line in the late 1940’s using original tools and a draftsmen’s drawing board where visitors are also asked to wear authentic overalls known as ‘cow gowns.’ The attraction boasts an area dedicated to telling the story of the creation of the original Series I by Land Rover founder Maurice Wilks using previously unseen video footage provided by his family.
The Celebration Line is located in the heart of the Defender production line which is housed inside one of the original production buildings at Jaguar Land Rover’s Solihull factory. The opening of the attraction marks the start of a year of celebration as the Defender enters its final year of production in the UK, according to Tata Sons Ltd.
Jaguar Land Rover Heritage Director, John Edwards, says the heritage line will take visitors back to the beginning of the world’s most famous 4x4 manufacturer. “Land Rover has a rich heritage based around the Series I and Defender models, and we wanted to create something extra special that would give visitors and enthusiasts a unique insight into how it all started back in 1948," he said.
“It has been a huge task to recreate a production line from almost 70 years ago, from sourcing original parts for the Series I models, to authentically re-creating the working environment and uniform of employees who were here. The team involved has been meticulous in their research, planning and creation of what is a fitting tribute to the legendary heritage of Land Rover,” he added.
The company turned to one of the world’s leading Land Rover enthusiasts and restorers and curator of the famous Dunsfold Collection of historic Land Rovers, Phil Bashall, to help create the vehicles for the production line. Phil built his first Series I Land Rover at the age of 13, but admitted he was shocked when Land Rover told him of plans to build a full replica 1948 production line, according to Tata Sons Ltd.
“It’s been a struggle at times, but a real labour of love to source all of the original parts needed for vehicles that stopped production so many years ago,” Phil admitted.