June 15, 2024

Wade Through Films

The Ultimate Driving Machines

A Rare Wood & Pickett Range Rover From 1971

Wood & Pickett Range Rover

This unusual looking Range Rover is a period custom from the prestigious Wood & Pickett. At first glance it looks like a car from a 1970s sci-fi film, but it was actually targeted at Britain’s rich and famous – and it proved very popular.

The Range Rover had become an almost de facto “country car” for the wealthy in Britain after its introduction. Some wanted more exclusivity and that’s where Wood & Pickett came in, for a hefty fee they would give your Range Rover a new face and a luxuriously appointed interior.

Fast Facts – The Range Rover By Wood & Pickett

  • Wood & Pickett started out in 1947 when coachbuilders Bill Wood and Les Pickett left their employment at London coachbuilders Hooper to start their own venture – though it wouldn’t be until the 1960s that Wood & Pickett Ltd was officially founded.
  • The Mini had been released in 1959, it quickly became a motoring icon with a slew of celebrity owners who often wanted their cars given a little more flair – British coachbuilders Radford began building custom luxury Minis and Wood & Pickett followed soon after.
  • After the release of the Range Rover in 1969 Wood & Pickett began offering luxury custom versions of it, and they were selling almost as fast as they could build them.
  • The company would later work with Harrods on a Harrods Range Rover and with Land Rover themselves on the “Vogue” Range Rover.

The Range Rover Arrives

The first Range Rover was one of the most consequential four-wheel drives ever introduced, it was among the first of the luxury SUVs alongside the Jeep Wagoneer from across the pond. Today the luxury SUV market is valued in the billions of dollars but back in the 1960s it was a new and almost entirely untapped genre.

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Image DescriptionThe Wood & Pickett Range Rover is immediately recognizable by its slatted front grille that covers the headlights. This is the condition the vehicle was in when it was recently uncovered.

The project to build a more luxurious Land Rover had actually begun back in 1951, just four years after the release of the iconic Series I. It was to be called the “Road Rover” and the prototypes included far more saloon car like comforts than their Series Land Rover siblings.

Ultimately the project would be shelved in 1958 however it was reanimated in 1966 by Spen King and Gordon Bashford, with the first prototype unveiled just a year later in 1967.

This new vehicle was given the name “Range Rover” to keep the link with Land Rover, and it had a steel ladder frame chassis, coil springs and live axles front and back, disc brakes, a Rover 3.5 liter V8 engine, and a far more luxurious interior than Land Rover owners were used to.

Wealthy clients would buy almost all the Range Rovers that were being built after its release in 1969, with many using as a country car or an estate wagon. Their appreciation of the higher driving position and comfortable fit out saw more and more of them being used for regular urban transportation, a trend that continues to this day.

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Image DescriptionThe Range Rover interior was upgraded by Wood & Pickett, with new seats, additional wood panelling, and a number of other refinements.

The Range Rover is now in its fifth generation and it remains one of the most popular and influential luxury SUVs in the world.

Wood & Pickett – Luxury Minis + Range Rovers

Wood & Pickett was founded by Bill Wood and Les Pickett in 1947, though the company wasn’t officially formed until the 1960s. The two men had learned the coachbuilding trade working for Hooper before setting out on their own.

In the 1960s the British coachbuilding firm Radford branched out and began building luxurious versions of the Mini, a car that had become a cultural icon that was driven by everyone from nurses and schoolteachers to members of The Beatles.

These Radford Minis developed a cult following and were soon emulated by other coachbuilders, including Wood & Pickett. After the release of the Range Rover the team at Wood & Pickett took the Radford Mini concept and created luxurious Range Rovers which became an instant sensation with the wealthy elite in Britain.

Wood & Pickett Range Rover 4

Image DescriptionPower is provided by the venerable Rover V8, an all-alloy engine that was based on the earlier Buick 215 V8 from the early 1960s.

The company would later work closely with luxury department store Harrods on the Harrods Range Rover, and they would work with Range Rover directly on the high-end Vogue model.

Wood & Pickett is still in business today mostly offering premium parts for classic Minis.

The 1971 Wood & Pickett Range Rover Shown Here

The vehicle you see here is one of the rare early surviving Wood & Pickett custom Range Rovers from very early in the Range Rover’s production run – it had only been released three years earlier.

This example has a significantly uprated interior with leather bucket seats, a significantly improved dashboard, air-conditioning, and walnut wood veneer. On the outside it’s fitted with custom alloy wheels and the distinctive Wood & Pickett Range Rover front end.

It now clearly needs a restoration, however given the wild popularity of these early two-door Range Rovers it’ll likely be snapped up and given the rebuild it deserves.

If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here on Historics Auctioneers.

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Images courtesy of Historics Auctioneers

Wood & Pickett Range Rover