Lot 302

Monterey 2023

1957 Land Rover Series I Custom "The Grizzly Torque" by Pilchers


$123,200 USD | Sold

United States | Monterey, California



Chassis No.
Canadian Registration
  • A legendary Series I with exceptional provenance; exemplifies Land Rover’s indomitable spirit
  • Special-ordered for a 60,000-km around-the-world voyage by Canada’s 'Rover Boys'
  • Retains its original, custom-outfitted aluminum Pilchers body
  • Rediscovered in 2014; exactingly restored to 1957 specifications by marque specialists
  • Star of Land Rover 70th Anniversary celebrations, ad campaigns, and exhibitions in Canada

Between July 1957 and September 1958, the preeminent Canadian artist Robert Bateman CM OBC RCA and his boyhood friend, Dr. Bristol Foster, undertook a 60,000-kilometer journey around the world with nothing besides a sense of curiosity and a unique Land Rover. The journey was, as noted by Bateman in a 2017 interview with Land Rover, “the most free and perhaps the most peaceful time we’ve ever had.” The pair regularly submitted illustrated articles to The Toronto Telegram, whose readers called them the “Rover Boys.” The full sense of adventure which this vehicle inspires in people is quite impossible to put into words.

Christened “The Grizzly Torque,” the duo’s 1957 Series I began life on 2 May 1957, when its special-order, 107-inch long wheelbase “Station Wagon” chassis was completed at Land Rover’s Solihull factory. Equipped with a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder petrol engine, it was subsequently forwarded to Pilchers of Wimbledon, who fitted its custom-outfitted aluminum bodywork, green leather upholstery, an observation hatch, two bunks, external sun visor, capstan winch, crank windows, and Sand Beige paintwork.

After a shakedown tour of Scotland, the pair set off for Africa’s Gold Coast in July 1957, snaking their merry way across Central Africa via Ghana, Togo, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. They then proceeded by boat to India, and onwards through Nepal, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and finally, Australia.

Following its return to Canada, Foster used “The Grizzly Torque” for some years until he sold it to a Texas-bound graduate student; that student later sold it to a rancher in British Columbia. Despite Bateman and Foster’s best efforts to relocate “The Grizzly Torque,” the car remained lost for decades until its rediscovery as a blue, derelict project in 2008 by marque specialist Alan Simpson of Clapperton, British Columbia.

Its identity was subsequently confirmed by Foster and Land Rover by December 2014. The consignor then purchased this famous Series I and organized a consortium of marque specialists (headed by Simpson) to complete an exactingly accurate restoration to its original 1957 specifications.

For their parts, Foster supplied a trove of period photographs for study, and Bateman recreated the hand-painted vignettes that run around the car’s bodywork representing each of the countries visited during their original journey. Two years and some $300,000 later, “The Grizzly Torque” was reborn and immediately sequestered for use as the star car in Land Rover’s 70th Anniversary celebrations across Canada. More recently, it has been exhibited at a great variety of domestic concours and overlanding events.

“The Grizzly Torque” is a remarkable, storied Series I example which perfectly showcases the indomitable Land Rover spirit.