Celebrating its 40th birthday this year, the Range Rover has emerged as one of the 20th century’s most important and iconic cars. Designed by Spen King and Gordon Bashford with its styling finalised by David Bache’s team, it’s impossible to criticise on a dynamic, aesthetic or functional level.
This vehicle looks set to enjoy a bright future in its current ownership.
Words and pictures: Craig Pusey
Roving the ranges…
A lovely car in a lovely setting…
This rare Range Rover, chassis number 40 with engine number 37, is one of the twenty ‘NXC’ cars built for the launch of the range Rover in June 1970 and was actually the 37th vehicle off the line. It was first registered on 27 May that year to the Rover Company Limited, Meteor Works, Solihull and, in common with the other press launch cars and the 25 pre-production vehicles, it was described in the log book as a ‘Velar 100 inch station wagon’ to preserve the anonymity of the new ‘Range Rover’ brand until the formal announcements on 17 June.
Despite apparent plans to launch the car to the world’s motoring press in North Africa, the actual launch took place in Cornwall at the Meudon Hotel and the Blue Hills Mine at St Agnes. NXC245H and the other press cars were transported to the West Country in late May and made available to journalists and photographers during the first week of June.
After the launch, 245 was retained by Rover for just over a year until it was sold to dealers Windmill & Lewis of Bristol who were able to sell it to its first owner, Mike Bartosik, for £1975 even though it had 25,600 miles on the clock. The list price for a brand new Range Rover as of January 1971 was £2229 but demand for the new ‘car for all reasons’ was such that a rather battered and well-used 245 could still sell for a premium!
Mr Bartosik was to keep the Range Rover until 1987 and during that time he kept a meticulous log detailing all of his journeys, service records and other work done on the car and his notes record three extended trips to Poland…the car must have made quite a statement behind the Iron Curtain in 1972, 1975 and 1985! On returning from his trip in 1975, Mr Bartosik recorded in his log ‘Have just completed continental holiday of well over seven weeks. Everything went smoothly and as expected there were no breakdowns. The car behaved well despite the very heavy load it carried and the terrain. It covered 5000 miles which at times was difficult country and forest tracks and paths’.
With great reluctance, Mr Bartosik sold NXC245H to dealers SMC of Bristol in 1987 by which time it had done just 67,822 fully-documented miles. SMC were happy to meet the asking price of £3500 to acquire what they described in the log as ‘A piece of nostalgic history we are very proud to own’.
However, their ownership lasted only six months before the car was sold on and between 1987 and 1999 NXC245H was registered to a succession of owners, at one point changing hands in exchange for a second-hand trials bike, before being acquired by its ninth owner who embarked on a lengthy chassis-up restoration. NXC245H, chassis number 40, was purchased by its current owner in 2008 and he has completed the restoration in time for the car’s 40th birthday and this year’s 40th anniversary of the launch of the iconic Range Rover.