New Zealand’s First Built Motor Car – 1900

On 12th July 1900, the ‘Otago Witness’ newspaper printed an interesting photo to acknowledge the arrival in Oamaru of New Zealand’s first built motor car (pictured).

Always heard before being seen, the three wheeled, gasoline powered motor tricycle had been causing quite a stir during its historic journey from Christchurch to Oamaru.  Built by Christchurch cycle mechanic engineer, F.L. Dennison (his shop address listed as Cathedral Square), happily reported that his invention could reach the speed of 16mph if the conditions were right. Witnesses said that Dennison’s contraption looked like ‘…a packing case on wheels…’

The only hiccup experienced during this brave adventure was a break down between Christchurch and Ashburton.

What followed during the 1900’s were many of New Zealand’s coach building businesses changing with the times, assembling cars from imported car parts. This industry remained strong until the 1970’s when it became cheaper to import cars already assembled.

*Image courtesy of Papers Past –*


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