Land Rover enthusiast Andrew Honychurch is in the process of fully restoring the first regular-production Range Rover. The truck wears registration number NXC231H and chassis number 26, indicating it was the first of 20 cars built to be tested by members of the media when the SUV was introduced in Cornwall, England, in 1970.
Land Rover held on to the truck until it was sold to a field engineer who worked for an oil company in 1973. The engineer drove the Range all across the United Kingdom for his job and all over Europe for his leisure, sometimes towing a travel trailer. He kept it until about 1987 and it had been parked in a damp garage for several years when Honychurch purchased it in 2000.
The Range suffered from major corrosion and the original engine was replaced by a V8 sourced from a Rover sedan. A life-long Range Rover collector, Honychurch gradually sourced original parts to fully restore every nut and bolt of chassis number 26 back to showroom condition. The rust on the frame and the body was fixed, the Rover-sourced V8 was replaced by a period-correct 134-horsepower unit fed with a carburetor and an original fuel cap was purchased for the jaw-dropping sum of £350 (roughly $570 / €415). The aluminum hood and the Bendix brake booster, two tell-tale signs of an early Range, never left the truck.
Although Honychurch is aware that he holds a unique piece of Land Rover history, he plans on selling the SUV once the restoration is complete.
“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,” said Honychurch in an interview with Hemmings.
How much chassis number 26 is expected to fetch was not disclosed.
Photos courtesy of Hemmings and Honychurch Classic Automobiles.