COLLECTION: Jacques Smit's Land Rover Passion

Jacques Smit Land Rover
Based outside Wellington, we find a passionate Land Rover collector and join him for a tour of his exceptional Landy "assembly".

Words and Images: Wilhelm Lutjeharms

You simply can not call it a garage... It would have made a perfect lounge or elaborate dining hall, but instead Jacques Smit (nicknamed "Nekkies") filled it with some of the best and most collectable Land Rovers in South Africa. And, rather appropriately, proudly displayed on your right as you enter the hall, is a lovely collection of model cars. 

Land Rover collection

Not only is all things Land Rover Nekkies’s passion, but it is also his business, as he services, maintains, restores and customises these cars through his company, Gateway Offroad Centre. We featured one of Nekkies’s classic, first generation Range Rover’s on SentiMETAL, and simply had to pay his collection a visit. 

As is often the case, Nekkies’ interest in all things Land Rover also started at a very young age. “I grew up in a farming community and was used to seeing and experiencing 4x4s. In 2000 I bought my first Defender, a Series II. It was in a terrible state, because I couldn’t afford a better example. I restored it and from there on the bug bit and since then I’ve restored a number of Land Rovers. In 2004 I had the option to go farming, but rather chose to join a business that specialised in repairing, restoring and the maintaining Land- and Range Rovers.” 

classic land rover

Perfectly reversed parked, this collection spans a number of decades. The oldest car on display in his collection is a 1956 Land Rover Series 1, complete with its foldable windscreen and the removable rooftop. It has also received a significant amount of work, but Nekkies admits the aim was plainly to tidy up the car and bring it back to original. 

“I’ve found a 1950 Land Rover Series 1 which is quite special. I’m busy restoring it, so when that is done, I’ll decide whether I’ll keep both or maybe sell the 1956 model. When you find one of these classics Land Rovers, you need to keep them original, as that is what current owners and collectors are interested in.”

Land Rover Defender

The various colours of the Land- and Range Rovers are as interesting as the variety of the derivatives. Another special car, and one rarely seen on any road, is the 2002 Land Rover Defender TD5 147. “Only 10 of these 6-door Defenders were ever sold and all of them came to South Africa. The aim was to sell them to high-end game reserves. A few years later Land Rover manufactured another three which are being used at the factory to ferry visitors around.”

Whether it is Land- or Range Rover, Nekkies appreciates all of them. “I bought my first classic Range Rover three-door in 2012. When one client wanted to restore his three-door, we decided to do both together.” The result is the beautiful light blue classic Range Rover, complete with its 3.5-litre, V8 engine and plush interior. 

classic land rover

It is a challenge to do research on early Land Rovers that came to South Africa. As Nekkies explains, the early cars came to South Africa in knocked-down kits and were assembled in Blackheath, Cape Town. Land Rover unfortunately kept few records of these kits that were exported to South Africa. 

We quickly exchange thoughts about the new Dakar Classic. I sense having already crossed Africa in Land Rovers, that such an event is something Nekkies would be very interested in competing in, and undoubtedly in a product from Solihull.

classic land rover

Needless to say, it is evident that the collection will change in the future with the various connections Nekkies have. This is undoubtedly one of the neatest 4x4 collections in South Africa by far. 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published