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From Rottweiler Rides to Sari Strolls – Land Rover Nelly’s Memorable Moments


There is a French saying, ‘II faut souffrir pour etre belle’ which roughly translates to ‘one must suffer to be beautiful.’ Nelly, a 1977 Series 3 Land Rover, may not have a heater, but she sure has a heart. Every morning, Melane Henderson braves the cold in her pink beanie, gloves, and camo neck wrap, along with ‘long johns’ to keep warm while driving Nelly. These long johns are what younger folks call thermal underwear, but for our seasoned adventurer, they’re simply long johns. Nelly, like her companions, boasts a trusty knee blanket to fend off the biting cold that sneaks through gaps in the door and air vents. And apparently, the gaps between Land Rover panels are so conspicuous they can be seen from outer space, alongside the Great Wall of China.

Their winter morning ritual involves Andrew, her husband, clearing frost from Nelly’s windows while Henderson tackles the condensation inside. This non-negotiable routine ensures a clear view of the drive to work, sparing them the risk of staying home to ‘supervise’ Andrew working on clients’ Land Rovers.

From daily routines, the narrative progresses to one very ‘eventful’ yet hilarious incident. One afternoon, as the duo made their way home from the hospital, Nelly began to lose power while ascending the switchbacks on Old Main Road. After a few anxious moments, they pulled over into a taxi stop and contacted Andrew.

Beasto the TD5, along with Andrew, arrived in what seemed like just a few minutes. Beasto, a 2005 Land Rover Defender Td5 90, proves to be exceptionally speedy, earning the title of the only ‘Formula One’ Landy known to Henderson. Anyone attempting to tail Beasto and daring to flash their headlights at him would soon regret their decision. Beasto does not take such audacity lightly. With a mere, gentle tap on his accelerator, the tailgater would find themselves falling far behind, left to wonder what had just occurred.

It turned out to be a fuel pump issue, but there was a minor hiccup – Henderson had been checking the temperature gauge instead of the fuel gauge. A tow and a refill of 50 litres of petrol at a nearby garage got Nelly back on the road.

In 2018, they took Nelly on a TB Day awareness march through Hillcrest, where she proudly led a procession of singing colleagues. The noise caught the attention of curious motorists and perhaps a bit of annoyance too. During a quiet side road return to the hospital, the local police officer likely breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that the noisy march had ended.

Their adventures extended to the Creighton Aloe Festival, where they braved thick mist and crawled along at 40 kph. They even posed next to local farmers’ aeroplanes and hot air balloons, creating moments of beauty and wonder.

Nelly also played a starring role at a matric dance in Hillcrest. Initially, the plan was to tow her in a trailer adorned with foliage. However, Henderson convinced the young man responsible to decorate Nelly instead. She arrived at the event amid a dazzling parade of revving Mustangs, Porsches, an old ambulance, a stern-looking police car, and even a shopping trolley. Surprisingly, Nelly won the ‘Best Vehicle’ award, leaving onlookers in awe.

Nelly enjoyed dressing up for special occasions like Valentine’s Day and Halloween. During one Halloween, Henderson had to drive to the local mall with fake blood droplets on Nelly’s windscreen and side windows, all while battling to keep the fake cobwebs from blowing away in the wind. Even passing motorists couldn’t resist a good laugh.

Nelly’s adventures extended to participating in Pace the Train with the local Veteran Car Club. They parked near Stokers Arms in Kloof and shared a memorable encounter with a fellow Land Rover enthusiast, Jack Crutchley, who had incredible stories of his adventures with old Land Rovers. Nelly facilitated connections like these that left lasting memories.

While visiting a friend at Cobham Nature Reserve, they encountered a milk lorry stuck in the mud, struggling to free itself. Despite offering help, the driver declined. Their Land Rover knowledge told them that these vehicles were fantastic for towing, a skill that came in handy for many adventures.

One particularly memorable day featured Nelly, Henderson, and their Rottweiler, Taita all together. With Andrew away at a Mountain Club meeting, they set out to visit a vet when Taita developed a swollen cheek. The journey proved to be a unique challenge, as Taita refused to sit in the back, opting instead to squeeze in beside Henderson in the front bench seat. Their journey to the vet, a slow crawl at 30 kph to avoid any run-ins with the police, led to a humorous encounter with a pedestrian looking for a ride.

A Sari Stroll along Durban’s beachfront added a touch of cultural charm to Nelly’s adventures. They parked at the Garden Court South Beach Hotel entrance and were met with a group of women donning elegant saris. The women happily posed for a photo with Nelly, creating a memorable moment.

One sunny Sunday drive through Kloof brought them to a garage where they spotted a 1972 Series Land Rover for sale at an astonishing price of R249,000. This was a stark contrast to the R45,000 they paid for Nelly, complete with a bin full of spare parts. This was proof of the value that a bit of paint, polish, and elbow grease could bring.

Visitors to their home at Series Ranch often questioned their growing collection of Land Rovers. They wondered why they had so many and suggested selling a few. While Andrew responded with “Everything has a price” or “Willing buyer, willing seller,” Henderson remained steadfast in her response: “Nelly is not for sale; she’s priceless.”

In a world of remarkable adventures, Nelly, the 1977 Series 3 Land Rover, is a steadfast companion. She may not have a heater, but she has a heart. Each journey illustrates the enduring bond between a Land Rover and its adventurous owner. Nelly’s story is a reminder that the true value of an adventure is the memories created along the way.

Nelly, the resilient 1977 Series 3 Land Rover, has embarked on numerous unforgettable journeys. However, this legendary vehicle is far from done. We’re eager to hear about your extraordinary Land Rover adventures. Join the conversation with fellow enthusiasts, share your cherished moments, and become a valued member of our thriving Land Rover community. Your stories are the driving force behind our adventures – drop a comment below and let’s keep the Land Rover spirit alive!