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The past guides the road ahead

Posted on March 03 2017

We are passionate about the heritage and histories of our brands and products, but are not the only British company to value such legacy. Within the last 12 months, a number of UK luxury carmakers have embarked upon extraordinary journeys to rediscover their past.

British carmakers are racing to rediscover their past

In January 2016, the final Land Rover Defender rolled off the line, following 68 years of continuous production in the UK. It was the last of over 2 million post war off-roaders that began with the Series I in 1948.

Land Rover Production Line (1948)

The news was met with sadness and mourning for the loss of one of the most iconic vehicles ever produced, but Land Rover explained that the old design would not be capable of meeting the new emission standards that sealed its fate.

Churchill (in teddy bear coat) alongside his Series I Land Rover

Just a few months later, the company declared that it would not be the last we saw of the familiar boxy shape emerging from their Solihull factory, as they revealed plans to complete the rebuild of 25 Series I Land Rovers with bare-metal nut and bolt restorations to as-new standard.

The Series I Land Rover "Reborn"

“Land Rover Reborn” offer their customers the opportunity to “own a piece of automotive history”, with buyers getting to choose from five period colours and two wheel-bases, and also getting the chance to follow the progress of their purchase as it undergoes restoration. Prices range from £60,000 to £80,000 once the six to nine months rebuild is complete.

 

Land Rover is not the only British marque to reconnect with its past. In March 2016, Jaguar announced that nine new XKSS’s would be hand built to the exact specification in which they appeared in 1957, replacing the cars lost due to the famous Browns Lane factory fire.

The Jaguar XKSS

The original cars were earmarked for export to the USA, however, just 16 were completed before disaster struck. Now, 60 years later, Jaguar Classic is rebuilding the nine “lost” XKSS sports cars for a select group of established collectors who will each be spending in excess of £1m for the privilege of ownership.

Mike Hawthorn behind the wheel of the Jaguar D-Type

The story of the XKSS follows on from Jaguar’s three successive Le Mans victories in 1955, 1956 and 1957 with the all-conquering D-Type.

The famous fin of the Jaguar D-Type

After the hat-trick of wins, Sir William Lyons took the decision on 14th January 1957 to convert the remaining 25 D-Types into road-going versions. Several external modifications were made, including the addition of a new higher windscreen, an extra door on the passenger side, and the removal of the famous fin behind the driver’s seat.

 

Not to be left out of the race, in December 2016, Aston Martin unveiled their plans to recreate the legendary DB4 G.T. with a special series of 25 track-only "continuation" cars built to lightweight specification by Aston Martin Works at Newport Pagnell.

Aston Martin DB4 G.T. currently for sale at J.D.Classics in London

Launched in 1959, the DB4 G.T. was immediately celebrated as one of the rarest and most revered of all Aston Martins. Evolved from the production DB4 and introduced in the same year Aston Martin scored its historic outright win in the Le Mans 24 Hours, the DB4 G.T. was a true supercar of its day.

Sir Stirling Moss behind the wheel of the Aston Martin DB4 G.T. (1960)

Shorter, lighter, sleeker and with a more powerful version of the legendary 3.7-litre straight-six engine, not only was the DB4 G.T. Britain’s fastest passenger sports car, it was a born winner, scoring a debut race victory at Silverstone in the hands of Sir Stirling Moss. A total of 75 DB4 G.T.s were built between 1959 and 1963. Of these only eight were lightweight models. Most of which survive today, and values now comfortably exceed £3m.

Remaining faithful to the design of those original eight factory lightweights, each DB4 G.T. continuation will be built with Aston Martin Works’ unrivalled experience and exemplary attention. First deliveries will commence in the third quarter of 2017, at the bargain price of £1.5m.

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