Land Rover has recreated the 1948 production line used to manufacture its first four wheel drive vehicle, The Series I. The “Defender Celebration Line” details the history of the Wilks Bros., who were the founders of the Land Rover. The exhibition is located in one of the original buildings at the Solihull factory.
Replica models are showcased at various stages of production, each one built using original parts and in the original method of production, which usually meant hand tools. Land Rover turned to the curator of the Dunsfold Collection, Phil Bashall, to oversee the creation of the “new” Series I’s. Dunsfold is home to the world’s largest collection of rare and unique Land Rovers and parts.
Working alongside Bashall was Roger Crathorne, who is otherwise known as “Mr Land Rover”. Crathorne was born in Solihull, and started working as an apprentice at the Land Rover factory in 1963. He retired from Land Rover in 2013 after 50 years of service to the company.
Despite the 8000 original Land Rover parts that Bashall had in his collection, it still took a period of months to collect the parts needed to recreate the assembly line. Then another 5 weeks for Bashall and Crathorne to assemble the five vehicles that appear in the “Celebration Line”.
Tours are open to the public for 45 pounds. The display lasts through 2015, which is the Defender’s last year of production at Solihull. I am overdue for a visit to the UK.
All photos are courtesy of Land Rover