Valentine’s Day 2015 presented four good friends with a slightly better gift than a box of Cadbury Favourites. As students of Otago University 15 years ago, Will Radford, Jeremy Wells, Anthony Dawson, and James Shatwell chipped in for a 1957 Series I Land Rover. ‘The Landy’ was a staple in their many adventures and trips throughout the country. Of course, time moves on, and after 15 years of ownership, The Landy was listed for sale on Trade Me, with a story of the friends’ many adventures, and their sadness at parting with it.

Land Rover New Zealand had come across the auction, and with the help of Will’s wife Claire, began a secret operation to restore The Landy from the ground up. Tony Katterns and the Custom Metal Shapers team were enlisted for the restoration. Broken parts were replaced with genuine Land Rover parts, while some of the characteristics that made it theirs — such as some of the dings and bumper stickers — were retained.

James McKee, Land Rover New Zealand’s marketing manager, says, “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.”

The Landy was taken for a tour of the South Island following the restoration, to recreate some of the adventure shots Will included in the Trade Me auction, before it was returned to Auckland in time for Claire to hide it in the shed for the four mates’ ultimate Valentine’s Day present.

We will have a full feature on The Landy in New Zealand Classic Car Issue No. 293, on sale April 20 — be sure to keep an eye out for it, to read all about The Landy’s history, and the adventures of four good mates. Check out the video of the story and the work that went into the vehicle below: