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Off-road performance: vintage Defender driving safely through water.

This year Land Rover is showing what Valentine's Day can really mean, turning a heart-warming online auction listing into the ultimate Valentine’s Day gift.

Four university friends from New Zealand had listed their beaten and broken 1957 Series I Land Rover, christened ‘The Landy’, for sale on an auction site, following 15 years of ownership. The listing told the story of their many adventures and their sorrow at parting with their beloved Land Rover.

While Will Radford, Jeremy Wells, Anthony Dawson and James Shatwell thought they were closing a chapter with the sale, fate intervened when the team at Land Rover New Zealand read the ad and hatched a covert operation with Will’s wife, Claire, to give ‘The Landy’ a painstaking ground-up mechanical restoration.

And now, for Valentine’s Day, the four friends have been reunited with their Series I thanks to Land Rover New Zealand.

When we came across the auction listing on the TradeMe website, we loved the story behind the classic vehicle,


“A heart-warming tale accompanied the listing, documenting the many journeys and stories this Land Rover has been part of and showing just how much the vehicle meant to the four guys. We decided it was an amazing opportunity to help them continue their relationship with this classic vehicle, so we bought it and restored it back to its former glory – replacing the broken bits with genuine Land Rover parts, while retaining some of the dents, dings and even the bumper stickers that made it theirs and gave it its charm. Now they can enjoy it again for many years to come.”

Following the restoration ‘The Landy’ was taken on a whistle-stop tour of New Zealand’s South Island to relive some of the original adventures Will Radford showcased in his TradeMe listing, before returning to Auckland just in time for Will’s wife Claire to hide it in the shed, ready to unveil it to the four unsuspecting friends as their ultimate Valentine’s Day present.

The Valentine’s Day project is part of a historic year for Land Rover, as it celebrates the final year of production at Solihull of the current Land Rover Defender model, the direct descendent of the Series I Land Rover.

This is a remarkable story. Adventure is a core part of the Land Rover brand, so the opportunity to breathe new life into a Series I Land Rover to help these four spirited friends to keep exploring was something that we couldn’t turn down.