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Gavin Bain


20th Feb 2024

Gavin died on the night of 17th February. His health had been deteriorating over an extended period of time and he died peacefully at Nurse Maude’s nursing home in the Merivale suburb of Christchurch. His wife Sharron, daughter Charlotte and son Hamish were with him.  Should anyone wish to write the address is;  Waitahuna, Governors Bay, Banks Peninsula, Christchurch, New Zealand or e mail; sharronbalantyne@gmail.com ( Sharron e mail uses her pre Gavin surname)


 19TH JULY 1944  TO 18TH FEBRUARY 2024
(Note; Gavin’s life is worthy of a biography! This obituary is a joint effort by Leslie Murray and Peter Croft, a lifelong chum and neighbour of Gavin’s. There may be omissions and editorial licence but in the main mostly factual. Just what Gavin would appreciate!)

Gavin was born to a reasonably well to do, and well- respected Christchurch family. The long- established family business was an importing /wholesale one operating from their premises, a fine Victorian warehouse in Lichfield Street. Bains warehouse contained three floors of quality china, glassware and other goods imported from the UK.

Gavin attended St Andrew’s College and amongst other school activities was a proficient player in the pipe band. Following school he joined the family firm. This was the foundation of Gavin’s early years.

In those halcyon days of Gavin’s youth he owned and restored his first car age 14! This was a 1924 Humber 8HP saloon, the start of his love affair with Humbers. It was followed by the addition of a 1924 3 Litre Bentley at age 17. They both remain in his collection to this day.

For the Bain business the advent of the deregulated market , New Zealand’s version of Thatcherism,  and the introduction of uncontrolled imports, much from China spelt the demise of the Bain’s large importing business, so what to do with their now defunct building?  Gavin founded Fazazz, The Motorists Shop on the ground floor of their wonderful building. Fazazz became a famous must “go to” venue for all car enthusiasts visiting NZ, collector’s cars for sale, automobilia, car models, motoring books and much more.  Sadly it’s closure resulted from the massive earthquake of 2011 which destroyed much of central Christchurch. Gavin nearly lost his life then when a considerable chunk of masonry fell from parapets above, writing off his Mercedes saloon and missing him by inches.

This old car addiction remained a lifelong driving force. Gavin might well have been called “Honest John”. His uncanny ability to source buy and sell fantastic cars throughout his life was unrivalled. Even in his last months he purchased a truly original 1899 Benz. The cars he has owned, many still in his collection, are all memorable and too many to mention; Bentleys, Bugattis, GP and sports car Ferraris, Aston Martin, Rolls Royces, Hispano Suizas, HWM,  D type Jag, Humbers, Austin 7’s, Chater Lea, Alta, Voisin, Bimotore Alfa Romeo and of course his beloved Fraser Nash .

His overseas expeditions included 3 litre Bentley fun in the UK and France, Darwin to Adelaide in Australia, Chater Lea cycle car at VSCC Prescott, Bugatti to Italy, one of the few cars ever to be parked in St Mark’s Square, Venice!, Ferrari to Italy for the Millie Miglia and Australia for historic racing, and two amazing FN raids to the Alps and much more in his AC engined TT rep.

Gavin will be well remembered by all who made it to the FN raid to NZ. A brilliantly organised and fun event, showing off this wonderful country and its amazing roads to enthusiastic Nashers. The generosity of his hospitality to all visitors was renowned.

Early on he asked himself “Who can fix my and my chums cars?” The answer was Auto Restorations, a specialist restoration company formed by Gavin and two friends. It has now been operating for over 50 years and has developed into a world- class restoration business, with clients from all over the world.

Gavin and his first wife Jackie purchased ‘Waitahuna’, an extensive property in Governors Bay, with fantastic views and heritage going back to the first European settlers whose ships arrived from 1850 onwards. The property had certainly seen much better days but under his stewardship ‘Waitahuna’ or Dyers cottage and gardens have been beautifully restored. His active support of ‘the Bay’ greatly contributed to the restoration of St Cuthbert’s church and the Governors Bay jetty at the head of Lyttleton Harbour both considerably earthquake damaged. His involvement in preserving Governors Bay history in particular and Banks Peninsula’s in general, and supporting the Governors Bay community was admired and respected.

His library of motor books must be the best in the Southern Hemisphere and his knowledge of what was in them, prolific.

Gavin and Jackie had a daughter Charlotte, now married with a lovely family and living in North Island. Sadly Jackie died at a much too young age. Gavin’s fond memory of her always remained with him in a low- key way which did not preclude future happiness. He married Annabelle and their son Hamish, is now a fine young man.

Then surprise! Sharron Ballantyne, ex long term Bay resident, returned to live in Governors Bay. They hit it off in an amazing and spontaneous fashion. They married in the garden at Waitahuna in 2019. What a wonderful occasion; Gavin, back to his Scottish roots in kilt, sporran and sgian dubh in his sock , Hamish driving the wedding Hispano Suiza and Charlotte and family, plus a host of guests, in attendance.

Gavin enjoyed a deserving, happy and fun five years together with Sharron.
 Sad indeed it is, but we must celebrate the fascinating life of a” one off Gentleman”, Gavin Morris Bain.
Our thoughts and condolences to Sharron, Charlotte, Hamish, and  the family.