The first-ever Land Rover was abandoned for years but then went on a huge adventure

  • The first production Land Rover has been on an adventure of a lifetime
  • It started off as a gift to the King but ended up being abandoned for decades
  • Later, someone restored it and took it on a trip to the desert

Published on Jun 30, 2024 at 3:58 PM (UTC+4)
by Siddharth Dudeja

Last updated on Jul 02, 2024 at 11:26 AM (UTC+4)
Edited by Nalin Rawat

The first-ever production model of the original Land Rover, which came out in 1948, had undoubtedly seen better days because it was sent out to the world to get lost with time.

What’s this about, you ask?

Well, the iconic 4×4, which was originally created for King George VI, changed several owners and ultimately ended up being abandoned for decades until a few years ago when someone decided to restore it.

What’s more, it even participated in an off-road event in the Gobi desert.

READ MORE: Indian billionaire acquires Queen Elizabeth’s Range Rover used by the Obamas

The first production Land Rover started off with a busy journey

It all started in July 1948 when Land Rover delivered its first car off the production line to Professor Ewen McEwen from Newcastle University and then registered it.

The off-roader’s license plate read ‘JUE 447.’

Since then, it has proudly held the JUE nickname.

However, the Professor didn’t hold onto the car for long and sold it off.

The story gets a tad bit hazy here, but according to a DriveTribe investigation, after changing a few owners, it ended up with a local farmer and miner in Northumberland in 1970.

Further, it got even more interesting — the farmer allegedly purchased the JUE Land Rover for a mere £15 (around $40), at the time.

Had the farmer realized what he bought, he would have held onto his Land Rover just like Londoners do these days.

But he only used the car for his needs and left it inside a barn to rust away in 1988.

As a result, JUE sat there for decades until the owner’s family contacted Land Rover specialist Julian Shoolheifer, who put the age-old vehicle up for sale.

It might not have been as ‘strong and powerful’ as modern-day vehicles like the Defender, but it was special in its own way.

Getting back in the game

INEOS Group’s Jim Ratcliffe managed to acquire the long-lost Rover, and he luckily had an automotive company to take care of it.

Further, INEOS Automotive, which now creates a Defender spin-off called the Grenadier, attempted to restore the Land Rover.

After two long years and putting in hundreds of hours, Ratcliffe brought the JUE back to life, albeit after facing several challenges.

In the end, the chassis number one Land Rover did what the brand wanted it to — some old-fashioned off-road adventure.

Ratcliffe and his team took it on a road trip across the Gobi desert, where it performed like ‘a star.’


Siddharth Dudeja

Siddharth is a tech nerd with a secret love of all things cars. He has been writing for a few years now, and on his free time you would find him gaming when he's not procrastinating.