Read About The World’s First Production Land Rover

Land Rover
The world’s first production Land Rover

The world’s first production Land Rover has been resurrected and the whole story has been carefully written for enthusiastic ‘mud-plugger’ fans.

The fascinating 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.

Land Rover Number One

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.

Land Rover
First production Land Rover

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.

Author, Martin Port is a highly-regarded Land-Rover expert and accurately 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.