What's the story?
This Series I 109in pick-up, known to its owners, Jacqui Dewar and Malcolm Whinnett as ‘Melvyn’, is named after the late Melvyn Colis, who began the vehicle’s restoration in 2005.
Melvyn was the father-in-law to Paul Foley of Foley Specialist Vehicles, who built Jacqui’s Defender 130 hearse, which is how she found out about Melvyn and his Land Rover. Following the sad death of Melvyn in 2007, Jacqui purchased the 109 in March 2008 and named it ‘Melvyn’ in tribute.
Originally built and dispatched 50 years earlier, Jacqui’s original plan was to convert Melvyn into a hearse for her funeral business, Alpha 4x4 Funerals. ‘My plan was to roll up the sides of the tilt, and have the coffin deck more open, more agricultural-looking. No glass sides – it would be completely open with flower rails along the sides to keep them in place. It would give a more rustic, outdoor experience, if you like,’ says Jacqui.
There was no reason Melvyn couldn’t be modified to suit, from VOSA’s point of view. However, in practical terms it was a no-go. One obvious drawback is the nature of Alpha 4x4 Funerals’ commissions which were nearly always more than 30 miles from home. Jacqui is less than keen to trundle along at 40mph in a 56-year-old vehicle for hours on end. Trailering it to locations would add cost and complications.
Instead, Melvyn looks beautiful at shows and is a rolling advertisement for Alpha 4x4 Funerals, and a delivery truck for the joinery business, Alpha 4x4 Joinery, that she runs with Malcolm.
Our favourite bit?
Security is always an issue, especially if there are a load of tools in the vehicle to fit a window frame or door but Jacqui has Jack, the ex-police Alsatian. Problem solved.
And the verdict from LRO writer Mark Saville?
‘One way and another, Melvyn is kept very busy. It’s great to see another much-loved Series Land Rover still actively ‘earning its keep’ and bringing so much pleasure to its owner.’
Model: 109in Series I pick up
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol
Power: 52bhp at 4000rpm
Torque: 101lb ft at 1500rpm