Denis Le Cren with his book about the region’s motoring businesses. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Early Nelson motor history immortalised


Denis Le Cren can’t stand seeing things thrown away.

He doesn’t like the idea of losing history. So, over the years he has taken it upon himself to make sure that parts of our Nelson that were once bastions of society are immortalised.

“I thought ‘it deserves to be put down on paper before it is all lost’.”

Denis has been in the Vintage Car Club for more than 50 years and in that time did its monthly magazines. During the research for the articles he would stumble across information that was specific to Nelson.

In his latest publication, he has brought that together in an early history of the region’s motor businesses – from 1903 to the early 1960s. Early Nelson Motor Businesses features almost 300 such businesses spanning Nelson, Murchison and Takaka, that popped up over the rise of the motorcar. Some are still in existence.

“It was a different world back then,” Denis says. “Motor business owners were important people in the day.”

He even uncovered a little-known fact that part of an early Austin motorcar was made in New Zealand.

But these days Denis says the car occupies a difficult place in society.

“The car is sort of frowned upon by a lot of people because of pollution but what they don’t complain is about planes in the sky, which is about 100 times worse.”

Denis has always liked working with his hands – whether it’s building his own home, restoring old Austin motorcars or grandfather clocks.

So, perhaps it is no surprise that the retired electrical consultant also enjoys doing the layout production of his books himself.

To order a copy of Early Nelson Motor Businesses you can call Denis on 5476297.