Land Rover launched three pre-production vehicles, dubbed the Series I, at the Amsterdam Motor Show in 1948 (pictured below). It has now been exactly 70 years since that debut, and Land Rover is celebrating the milestone birthday with an event it calls World Land Rover Day, which included a 37-minute live broadcast from Jaguar Land Rover’s Classic Works in Coventry, U.K. Land Rover will also mark the occasion by restoring its original Series I and introducing a brand new Defender later this year.
The experts at Land Rover Classic are working on restoring one of the three original cars from Amsterdam. This particular model was rediscovered in a garden in Birmingham, U.K. in 2016 after having gone missing for 63 years. The utility vehicle established the look of Land Rover vehicles and is thus regarded as the brand’s most historically significant vehicle.
In 1958, the automaker unleashed the Series II with a more refined design, followed by the updated Series III in 1971. Then, these vehicles would be called 90 for the short-wheelbase version and 110 for the long wheelbase. It wasn’t until 1981 that the Range Rover was born, and the Discovery first appeared in 1989. In 1990, the company renamed its original Series vehicles “Defender.” A whole slew of other vehicles made their mark in the 2000s, including the Range Rover Sport in 2005, Range Rover Evoque in 2010, Range Rover Sport SVR in 2014, and the Range Rover Velar in 2017. Land Rover has sold more than 7 million vehicles since its launch.
Land Rover is expected to debut a new Defender this year. Headed to the U.S. eventually, the new model should sit on the same aluminum-intensive architecture as the Range Rover Sport. It should also feature vast refinements in the areas of handling, ride quality, interior finish, and safety. In the meantime, the automaker is re-engineering 150 examples of the current Defender as limited-edition models. They pack a more powerful 5.0-liter V-8 engine that makes 399 hp instead of the old Defender’s 120 hp.
Check out the gallery to see the Land Rovers of yesteryear, and watch the anniversary broadcast to learn more about the brand’s storied history.