Dorothy Peters appreciated this photograph of her posing with Land Rover number 16 for 70 years – and then a casual meeting saw her and the 4 × 4 gathered
As a 15-year-old girl in post-war Britain, Dorothy Peters joined the newly formed Land Rover to work on the first off-road vehicles to build.
She had entered the service department in 1946, at the company's plant, in Solihull, near Birmingham, while the original Land Rover of the Series 1 was produced.
Land Rover made its world debut at the Amsterdam Motor Show in 1948 and one of those all-new 4X4s had a special place in the heart of Dorothy – the 16th of the line, with which it was photographed before being put on sale.
For seven decades he made that photograph, always wondering how it would be guided.
And then, at the age of 87, a casual encounter this year means that not only did he reunite with the same off-road vehicle he worked on many decades ago, but he also realized his ambition for life. to take a ride.
The road to an emotional meeting, which left her in tears, began in June of this year, when Dorothy took part in the 70th Land Rover festival at the Lode Lane festival in Solihull, the city where she was born.
He brought with him a photo album of his time working in the plant, which during the war had served as a secret and camouflaged "shadow factory", to avoid being bombed by the Luftwaffe, which targeted industrial sites in nearby Birmingham and Coventry.
Little suspected that the particular black and white image of Britain after the war would trigger events that would reunite it with its special Land Rover Series 1 – number 16 off the production line.
The current owner of Land Rover number 16 is Mike Bishop, who works for the classic division of the company. Dorothy showed him her photograph at a Land Rover party and arranged to get her back in the car
Dorothy said: "I just showed him this picture and I could not believe the reaction"
Mike Bishop, Reborn's Land Rover Classic engineering specialist and heritage expert, spotted Dorothy's faded photograph posing casually next to the machine he owned – the HNX 331 registration.
He decided to celebrate in a way he hoped he would never forget, including a ride around the proven off-road factory trail called The Jungle Track.
Over the next several weeks, the Land Rover team from Solihull worked with Dorothy's daughter and grandchildren to create a day full of surprises.
Then they brought her back to Solihull and the car she laid next to 70 years ago.
Dorothy with her friends at Land Rover – then again Rover – at the end of the years & # 39; 40
Dorothy's identity card from the days when he built the first Land Rovers in Solihull, since July 1946
Spreading a tear and sharing an emotional hug when Mike Bishop reunited her with his beloved Land Rover, Dorothy said, "I could not believe the reaction to my photos." I had no idea that this conversation would take me on a journey down memory lane. and on the wonderful off-road Solihull track. "
"I just showed him this picture and I could not believe the reaction, and it's green, my photographs are black and white, I could not remember the color."
Dorothy Peters with Land Rover 16 owner, Mike Bishop, at the emotional meeting
Mike took Dorothy out for a ride around the all-terrain road known as the Jungle Track
While the classic Land Rover took Dorothy through the mud, the steep climbs and the water, held her head in excited hands and said, "Am I dreaming? Oh my God, it is incredible that this vehicle can make it.
This is wonderful. I've never driven a Land Rover before. Never. What a wonderful idea to do this. I will tell everyone. "
"I'm so grateful. I'm going to become all emotional. "
He added: "The opportunity to share this day with my daughter and my nephews was a wonderful surprise, and to see how different the factory is today was very special, it seemed like a dream and I will never forget it."
Dorothy at the age of 15, with her mother in 1946, the year she looked for a job at Rover, who built the Land Rover in Solihull
Reflecting on the time spent at the factory, for which he had received his original identity card since July 1946, he said: "Obviously it was called Rover then.We had not heard of Land Rover.
"My mother came with me to the factory to see what jobs there were, I was 15. I had little white socks and sandals."
The roof was so high that the birds would have laid their eggs in the nests in the beam, he noted.
Dorothy said when she met Mike Bishop: "I had no idea that this conversation would take me on a long memory trip"
Land Rover owner number 16, Mr. Bishop said of their casual encounter: "I was approached by a very charming woman with some pictures of her time in Solihull, but I had no idea that we would share a special connection with the number 16.
I knew in the moment that we had to reunite them
"I said," Well, do you know who owns this Land Rover? … I do. "
"His enthusiasm for the company and this vehicle in particular was wonderful – as was his surprise when he discovered that I now owned the car, I knew in the moment that we had to reunite them."
Land Rover captured the emotional reunion on the film and Dorothy and her friends had a preview in a special screening at Dorothy's nursing home.