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Amazing survivor: pre-production One Ten Hi-Cap wears its history with pride : credit: © Craig Pusey
An interesting sequence of events leads to the rediscovery of a very early pre-production One Ten. Gary Pusey investigates....

I love it when I hear that an interesting old Land Rover has been found. Not that any of them are really lost, of course, so perhaps it’s better to describe them as mislaid. Or maybe they’ve just dropped out of sight? You can dedicate half your life to looking for them, but more often than not it is coincidence and luck rather than hard work that delivers a result.​​​​​​

The story of this 1982 One Ten Hi-Cap is a perfect example of what I’m talking about and, somewhat bizarrely, it starts with a Range Rover P38A 4.6 HSE that I bought in 2004. It was my daily driver and family transport for eight years before it developed a transmission noise that nobody seemed able to diagnose or fix. It all ended rather badly when the transfer box failed in spectacular fashion and left my wife and I, our two children, the dog and a mountain of holiday luggage immobilised in West Wales in the early hours of the morning. We didn’t enjoy the lengthy, multistage recovery relay back to Hampshire. I tried to convince the kids that it was an adventure, but they were (once again!) unimpressed with dad’s choice of car and told me I should buy a more reliable one…

Philip has managed to find a front hoop; when a rear hoop has been found, a canvas tilt will be fitted

Pre-pro headlamp surrounds still in place. The remaining dark green on the wings
is stuck to filler!

Everyone I spoke to seemed to agree with them and told me the Range Rover wasn’t worth repairing, so I sold it to a local independent 4x4 specialist who insisted he was going to break it for parts. A couple of years later I was mildly surprised to see it driving towards me in our local town centre. The dealer had repaired it, put it on coils and sold it on. It changed hands again when it was acquired by lifelong Land Rover enthusiasts Kelvin Mottershead and Diana Gates, who appreciated its history.

They knew that Y233 HPC was quite a well-known P38A thanks to the fact that it participated in JLR’s Range Rover 40th anniversary photoshoot in 2010. This was when Roger Crathorne and Nick Dimbleby famously managed to locate the remote hillside in North Wales that was used in 1970 for the famous press launch photos of YVB 153H, and for some of the filming of A Car for All Reasons. Later that year, JLR borrowed the P38A again and it graced the company’s stand at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. JLR regularly use Nick’s photos of it whenever they need to show a P38A in their marketing and vehicle launch activities. In fact, a familiar shot of Y233 HPC appeared on the screen in the live video launch of the new fifth-generation Range Rover late last year.

Original badges have survived

Kelvin and Diana used HPC fairly sparingly until Kelvin’s passing last year. Diana decided to donate the Range Rover to Dunsfold with the instruction that it be sold to raise funds for the Collection. “Kelvin would have been pleased to know that the Range Rover was going to help raise money for the Collection,” she tells me. “I hope it is bought by somebody who realises just how wonderful the P38A actually is, and who will appreciate the unique history of this particular Range Rover.”

It was when Philip Bashall went to collect the P38A that he noticed something else tucked away in an adjacent open-fronted shed, when traces of original Inca Yellow paint on the tailgate of a One Ten Hi-Cap caught his eye. After he’d put the Range Rover on the trailer, Philip asked Diana if he could have a closer look. What he found was a careworn One Ten that carried a warped, cracked but very original factory-issued number plate reading CKV 569Y, complete with original Land Rover UK Ltd branding. Lifting the bonnet revealed a V8 that had been undergoing maintenance and was minus its air cleaner box. Its original Strombergs had also been replaced with a Weber twin-choke carb.

Front bumper was badly twisted but persuaded back into shape with a sledgehammer

It was undoubtedly an early pre-production High-Capacity Pick Up with its original yellow paint hidden beneath a dark green blow-over that had been done prior to Diana and Kelvin’s ownership and was now peeling away to show the factory paint underneath. There are examples of early Hi-Caps that were over painted in green by the factory and used for military development work, and one is even believed to have been fitted with a rocket launcher.

Philip asked Diana to let him know if she ever wanted to sell the One Ten, because he thought it would be a wonderful addition to the Collection. Two weeks later, Diana called to say that she would be happy to part with it because she knew that it needed significant work and, although Kelvin had made progress with it, there was a lot that needed to be done before it would pass its MoT.

Cab looks considerably better with new seat bases

And that’s how Philip and I came to be standing in the yard at Diana’s smallholding in Hampshire. It was a chilly but bright morning and as we nursed mugs of steaming coffee Diana told us about the One Ten. “Kelvin and I bought it in 1993 to use as our farm transport and that’s pretty much all it was used for. It was a very useful and practical vehicle and although we knew it was an early example, we had no idea just how early until Philip checked the Land Rover records. It’s amazing to discover that it is a pre-production vehicle, and I’m delighted that it is going to join the Dunsfold Collection and will be preserved for posterity.”

In fact, it is chassis number 173075, and the Land Rover production records show that it was built in October 1982 and despatched to Rover Solihull. It was one of a batch of eight vehicles with consecutive chassis numbers that were assembled between late October and early December that year. It was registered with the factory-issued number CKV 569Y on December 1 and allocated to Mr R C Holding in the Quality department.​​​​​​

All eight vehicles in this group were pre-production One Tens of various types, including three that were destined to join the fabled One Ten press launch fleet, which had the distinctive CWK-Y factory registration numbers. At least five of the eight seem to have been Hi-Caps and 173075 was one of a group of four that were despatched out on October 21, making them what appear to be the first One Ten Hi-Caps to be built.

CKV 569Y was sold by Land Rover on March 9, 1984, to the Leeds branch of vehicle finance company Bowmaker Leasing Ltd, which presumably was acquiring it for a customer who was buying it on what my grannie used to call ‘the never-never’ which, for our younger readers, was shorthand for Hire Purchase.

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Philip Bashall with Diana Gates, who is pleased that the vehicle is joining the Dunsfold Collection

Back on Diana’s smallholding, the focus was on trying to get the One Ten to start. The response to the first few turns of the key wasn’t encouraging, so Philip resorted to a glug of fresh fuel into the tank from the jerrycan, a battery jump pack and a squirt of petrol straight down the gaping throats of the Weber. Suitably refreshed and recharged, the Hi-Cap roared into life and we drove it onto the trailer. We took a few photos and reassured Diana that we would keep her posted on our progress, and also promised to invite her to Dunsfold to see it once the resurrection has been completed.

The vehicle as found. Amazing what a power-washer can do

Back at the workshop, Philip decided to amuse himself for a day or two with the power washer to see how much of the nasty dark green blow-over he could remove. This is actually quite an important first step, because it will inform our eventual decision regarding the extent of the renovation – or restoration – that will be needed. Inca Yellow has always been a bit of a Marmite colour among Land Rover enthusiasts but I know that Philip is a big fan, so I’m hoping he will be able to salvage the original factory paint.

Loadspace has taken a beating over the years

“It was probably not an ideal job to be doing in the depths of December,” he says with a chuckle when I meet him two days later, “but it was well worth it. The power washer blew off most of the green paint, although I needed to use paint stripper in a couple of places and a sharp blade as a scraper in others. I’ll probably remove more of the green in due course, especially from the doors. There are areas on the front wings that have been taken back to bare metal but I’m not too concerned about that. We know what we’ve got now, and it is a sound basis for preservation rather than restoration.”

Engine bay as found, with Weber twin-choke carb and homemade manifold

It’s encouraging news, but we need to get the Hi-Cap on the ramp for a thorough examination. We know the rear cross-member was replaced by Kelvin with an incorrect part, but the rest of the chassis requires work as well. The front propshaft is missing, and the universal joint is well past its prime. A couple of brake lines need attention, and although the tyres are fairly new they look awful, so we decide to fit a set of used period-correct Michelins.​​​​​​

The original engine was replaced at some point before Kelvin and Diana’s ownership, and the V8 that’s under the bonnet originated in a Rover SD1 saloon. Back in the day, if you broke your V8 this was a common and very cheap fix, and whoever did it wouldn’t have cared that they were scrapping factory-fitted engine number 15G00005. It is a small consolation that all the original ancillaries seem to have been retained, as far as we can tell.

Cab interior as found

There are plenty of pre-production components still fitted and Philip excitedly points them out. The characteristic front bumper with the starting handle aperture on a bracket welded to the top of the bumper, aluminium inner wings; smooth cowls on the steering column, smooth finish handbrake gaiter, rough-finish dash binnacle, handmade hockey stick on the glovebox, twin fog lights of unknown origin and no reversing lamp. There will no doubt be additional pre-pro gems to be discovered in due course. It’s nice to find it still has its original switchgear and key as well.

​​​​​Philip has already sourced a pair of factory-spec Strombergs and a genuine manifold to replace the Weber carb and homemade manifold. He’s found and fitted replacements for the missing left-hand rear valence and the rotten right-hand sill, too. The cab interior was very tired and new seat bases have been fitted to the original de-luxe seats, although door trims don’t seem to have been installed at the factory. It has rubber floor mats but no trimming, and the optional oil temperature and oil pressure gauges have been fitted somewhere along the way, possibly by the factory.

Real patina

We’ve also found evidence of it having hood sticks in the past, which we are in the process of reinstating. “A hood will set it off nicely,” says Philip, “as well as hide the interior of the rear tub, which is pretty beaten-up. But it’s a good, honest Land Rover that’s led a hard life doing what it was designed to do, and it’s wonderful to be able to preserve all that patina.” I couldn’t agree more, and it will be interesting to see what Diana makes of it when she comes to Dunsfold to see it in the spring.


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