When was the last time you saw the story of a car being restored to its full glory that made the hair at the back of your head stand up? Old Top Gear brought about many goosebumps over the years and this video being presented by Richard Hammond does something similar. It tells us the story of the world’s FIRST Land Rover that rolled out of the factory on the 29th of July, 1948 with the registration number JUE 477. As a result, it earned itself the nickname Jue (pronounced as Juey). The video also teases The INEOS Grenadier 4×4 but Hammond doesn’t talk much about it. Maybe, that is for another video.
Hammond talks about the history of Jue and how it was about to be given to the king after rolling out of production but ended up with a professor from King’s College. Eventually, it was bought by a farmer in the North-East of England in the early seventies. Since then, it was sort of untraceable until recently, when it was found by Julian Shoolheifer- A Land Rover Specialist and Restorer who regards Jue as the most important vehicle in Land Rover history.
The family of the deceased farmer contacted Shoolheifer for his expertise in Land Rovers so they could auction it for a handsome amount. Jue was found abandoned in a roofless stoned barn where it spent a lot of its life- exposed to the elements. But surprisingly, she was in good shape in many ways considering her age, apart from a few bits. The chassis still had the identity of being Chassis number 1 which was sadly split into two!
As a result of the Auction, Jue was bought by an entrepreneur, 4×4 enthusiast, and adventurer Jim Ratcliffe- also famous for being the Chairman of INEOS. You might be connecting the dots already but the restoration story is more interesting. The restoration was done by Shoolheifer himself and luckily, Jue’s internals were well preserved.
In no time, Jue hit the road again. I must say that the restoration was one of the best ones I’ve seen until today because apart from the repairs and the mending, everything else was preserved to be as it was found- a weathered, worn, and old working Land Rover. The story gets more interesting.
An adventurer that Ratcliffe is, he decided to take Jue across the Gobi Desert in Mongolia with multiple other classic cars instead of preserving it in a museum. And what better way could one celebrate Jue’s birthday? Jue was put to the test in the desert where she came out with flying colors. Ratcliffe says that not once did he sense a hiccup or a sign of something going wrong with Jue.
Unsurprisingly, supporting the convoy of vintage cars with luggage, backup tools, spare parts and everything else was a fleet of INEOS 4×4 SUVs. What I’m glad about though, is that Jue lives on! And what a way to pay tribute to a car so important, not only in the history of Land Rover but also in automotive history!