Businessman Converts Classic Defender

Since the pre-production times, Land Rover has transformed the Defender model from a traditional farming truck to an iconic all-terrain vehicle. When production of the Defender halted in January of 2016, it was a day of mourning for fans across the world.

To celebrate Jaguar Land Rover’s 70th anniversary this year, the Classic division of the company will be restoring a 1948 pre-production Land Rover that recently surfaced near the historic JLR facility in Solihull.


Businessman Frank Rothwell purchased the rare vehicle for only $5,650 from a company that had owned the property where it was sitting for decades. They even nicknamed the pre-production Land Rover “Mildred” because of the amount of mildew built up on the inside.

Rothwell spent over $34,000 and 400 hours of work for a project to convert the Land Rover to run off of coal.

Why put all of this work into changing the vehicle to be powered from the filthiest type of fuel?

Rothwell will be using the vehicle to entertain his grandchildren and to drive his extremely short commute to the office.

The recessed grille of the Land Rover now incorporates a mock boiler equipped with a fully-functional chimney for the fossil fuel smoke. The coal fire heats up water which is converted to steam. The steam engine is what gets the wheels of the vehicle moving forward.

When it is full of steam, the restored vehicle can travel up to 15 miles per hour for a leisurely ride. It still keeps up to par with the early Land Rover models who could barely go above 40 mph. The vehicle is intended for a more recreational purpose and Rothwell is excited to share the fun with his family.

“I think children of this generation need to do things like using coal and lighting fires” he said, “because it will help them learn how the times have changed”.

Interested in checking out our used inventory of Land Rover Defender models? Contact us at Land Rover Frisco to learn more about our vehicle lineup! We hope you are excited about Land Rover’s 70th anniversary!

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