McLaren Garage (Former)

586-592 Remuera Road, Remuera, Auckland

  • McLaren Garage (Former).
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Martin Jones.
  • McLaren Garage (Former).
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Martin Jones.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7656 Date Entered 30th June 2006


Extent of List Entry

All the land in CT NA1660/97 (as shown on Map A in the Registration Report) and the building, its fixtures and fittings thereon.

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)


Auckland Council

Legal description

DP 19893 (CT NA1660/97), North Auckland Land District


The former McLaren Garage in Auckland is strongly associated with Bruce McLaren (1937-1970), the internationally significant racing driver, car designer/constructor and Team McLaren Motor Racing founder. Constructed in 1926, the purpose-built garage and service station was constructed in Remuera's Upland Road shopping village during a period of increased commercial development along Remuera Road's expanding tram route. The building is an early example of a suburban service station and garage, one of many specialised roadside facilities designed to serve the rapidly increasing number of private motorcars as cars became more affordable. The garage was erected by a consortium that included its architect, Rupert Morton, and possibly a relation of its builders, J.J. Reardon and Son.

The two-storey brick building was designed with reference to Spanish Mission style, associated with ideas of progressive living and a carefree lifestyle. Its central bay contained a small office and shop, with showcase windows for the display of motor products. Much of the remainder of the ground floor held an open workshop for the servicing of vehicles, with a car-washing floor and drainage in its northeastern corner. A T-shaped canopy sheltered the small central forecourt area, while the upstairs of the building contained three small flats, each containing two bedrooms.

The garage was initially run by Arthur Taylor for ten years. In 1936, he sold the business to Les McLaren, Bruce McLaren's father, one of the first individuals to drive motor fuel trucks for oil company Texaco (forerunner to Caltex). Les McLaren and his family lived in one of the flats above the business, before purchasing a house immediately around the corner, at Upland Road, in 1946. His only son, Bruce, was born while the family lived in the flat, learning the basics of motor racing and developing a sound mechanical knowledge.

Les McLaren bought the premises in 1959 in partnership with Bruce, who had been launched the year before on what was to become an international motor racing career when he became the first recipient of the New Zealand International Grand Prix-sponsored 'Driver to Europe' award. Many of Bruce's cars were serviced in the building, while Australian racing driver Jack Brabham (b. 1926) had also based his racing cars at the garage during the 1950s, having come for the first New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore in 1954. Small modifications were made to the building, including the enclosure of a balcony area in the middle flat in 1961.

Les sold the business in 1968, but the McLarens retained ownership of the premises until Bruce's death in 1970. By this time, Bruce had i) won four Grand Prix races and held the world record as the youngest driver (aged 22) ever to win a world championship Formula One Grand Prix - a record set in 1959 which stood for 44 years; ii) a reputation as one of few champion motor racing drivers who was also a world-class racing car designer/constructor; iii) founded a company that went on to become the multi-million dollar Formula One 'McLaren International'; iv) been awarded the Seagrove Trophy for the British subject who accomplished the most outstanding demonstration of the possibilities of transport by land, sea, air or water; and v) taken his team into a new field of motor racing with the M6-GT built to compete in the Indianapolis 500 - one of only two teams ever to compete in all spheres of motor racing (Formula One, Can Am and Indianapolis) at one time. In 1970 the Society of Automotive Engineers' Certificate of Recognition in Car Design was presented to McLaren. His achievements have since been recognized by his induction into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame and the International Motor Sports Hall of Fame.

Subsequent changes to the building have included a new canopy, roller doors and the introduction of aluminium joinery to the office area. The building continues to be used as a service station and garage, while much of its upper floor is devoted to offices and a small museum run by The Bruce McLaren Trust, commemorating Bruce's achievements. The building is considered significant as a well-preserved example of a 1920s garage and service station, as well as for retaining strong associations with Bruce McLaren.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value


McLaren's Garage (Former) is historically significant as a rare surviving example of purpose-built service station and garage in continuous use since early 1927. The building, constructed at a time when private automobile ownership was rapidly increasing, also reflects the development of one of Auckland's recognised early motoring routes and the suburbs to the northeast of Remuera.

The place has outstanding historical significance as the childhood home for nine years of New Zealand motor sporting icon Bruce McLaren, who co-owned the building for eleven years prior to his death in 1970. The building with its residential accommodation above the garage workshop provides a particular insight into McLaren's early interest in automotive mechanics and was a catalyst in his development as a racing driver, car constructor/designer of international significance and founder of Team McLaren.

The building's significance in motor sports history is reinforced by its location around the corner from the McLaren family home at 8 Upland Road, where Bruce McLaren worked on his first racing car and learnt to drive. The historical significance of the McLaren Garage (Former) is reinforced by the current tenancy of the Bruce McLaren Trust within part of the upper floor.


The building can be considered to have architectural significance as an unusual and well-preserved example of a purpose-built Spanish Mission garage in an Auckland context. It is also architecturally significant as the work of local architect Rupert Morton whose practice designed Berrisville Apartments, one of a small number of pre-war buildings to display strong modernist tendencies, and launched the career of architect and educator Richard Toy. The building has some significance as an increasingly uncommon example of an early purpose-built service station incorporating an associated repair workshop for motor vehicles.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history

The place reflects important and representative aspects of New Zealand's history, particularly the development of specialized buildings and services associated with early New Zealand motoring. The place is associated with transport history and reflects the changing needs of the New Zealand motoring public over time. It also reflects a golden era in the development of New Zealand motor sport and international achievement by a New Zealander, increasing New Zealand's recognition abroad.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history

The former McLaren Garage is strongly associated with pre-eminent motor-racing personality Bruce McLaren, a person of considerable importance in New Zealand and - more particularly - international motor racing history. The garage is believed to be the only building with which he retained a close lifelong association.

The place is also associated with Les McLaren, Bruce's father, who was active in the development of local motor-sport and a foundation member of the New Zealand International Grand Prix which introduced international motor racing to New Zealand.

(f) The potential of the place for public education

Located on a major public thoroughfare in New Zealand's largest city, the former McLaren Garage has considerable potential for public education on the development of motoring, motor racing in New Zealand, and the life and achievements of Bruce McLaren. This is particularly enhanced by the tenancy of the Bruce McLaren Trust, which is dedicated to promoting the memory of Bruce McLaren in perpetuity, and supporting the preservation of motor racing history and heritage in New Zealand.

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place

The former McLaren Garage is significant as a well-preserved surviving example of an early purpose-built suburban service station/automotive workshop with residential accommodation above. The design's suitability for its purpose is evidenced by the building's ongoing use for its original functions.

The Spanish Mission style of the building reflects early twentieth-century ideas about motoring, including connections with progressive living and the United States of America.

(h) The symbolic or commemorative value of the place

The former McLaren Garage has commemorative value for its strong associations with Bruce McLaren, who died tragically at a young age and who - more than any other individual - has come to symbolize a golden age of New Zealand motor racing.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape

The former McLaren Garage is one of several early to mid twentieth-century buildings surviving at the junction of Remuera, Upland and Minto Roads, which reflect the commercial and technological landscape of the garage at an early stage in its history. The cultural landscape of which the former McLaren Garage forms part is enhanced by the presence of the former McLaren family home at 8 Upland Road, adjacent to the junction.

Summary of significance:

The McLaren Garage (Former) is recommended for Category I registration as a place of special or outstanding historical or cultural heritage value because:

-It was the early home and formative environment in which internationally significant racing driver, car constructor/designer and Team McLaren Motor Racing founder, Bruce McLaren developed.

-It is believed to be the only building with which pre-eminent motor racing personality Bruce McLaren retained a close lifelong association, for the last eleven years of his life as co-owner.

-It has commemorative value as a tangible link with Bruce McLaren and his sporting legacy.

-Its location around the corner from the former McLaren family home at 8 Upland Road reinforces its significance in motor sporting history.

-It reflects the development of specialized buildings associated with early New Zealand motoring.

-It is a little-modified example of a purpose-built service station and garage constructed the mid-1920s, whose Spanish Mission design reflects prevailing ideas about progressive 'modern' living and motoring connections with the United States of America.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Morton, Edmund

Edmund Rupert Morton

Rupert Morton appears to have commenced his Auckland architectural practice shortly before the First World War (1914-1918). Initially working from the Premier Buildings on the corner of Queen Street and Durham Street East prior to relocating to the top floor of City Chambers in Victoria Street West in 1913, he had moved into the Ellison Chambers on Queen Street by 1926.

Morton, who lived in Lucerne Road, Remuera, was a member of a syndicate that in 1926 developed the property and premises occupied by the McLaren garage. He designed at least two other commercial/residential developments on Remuera Road that year.

Relatively little is known of his other commercial designs. In 1923 Morton was the architect of a 1,300m² factory premises in Hepburn Street, Grey Lynn for the Dunedin-based food manufacturer St George Company. He is also credited with designing the two-storey commercial and residential building located at the corner of Garnet and Lemington Roads, Westmere. A shop/apartment building in the moderne style for a Mr McTaggart in Calliope Road at Devonport's Stanley Bay was also designed by his practice.

Between 1937 and 1943 several articles describing domestic buildings designed by Morton's practice and constructed around Auckland were published in Home and Building. The practice is probably best remembered for 'Berrisville' (NZHPT Registration # 554, Category II historic place) an apartment block constructed in 1937 in Anzac Avenue. One of a small number of pre-war buildings to display strong modernist tendencies, 'Berrisville' established Richard Toy - who had joined the firm after graduating from the University School of Architecture in 1936 and who in 1959 was to become professor of architectural design at the University of Auckland School of Architecture - as ‘a presence at the introduction of modernism into New Zealand'.

In 1939 Rupert Morton jointly won a competition to compose a song to celebrate the Auckland's centennial in 1940.

J.J.Reardon & Son

J.J. Reardon and Son

Little is known of the Auckland building firm of J.J. Reardon and Son. The Auckland Street Directory for 1928 indicates that the business was based at 21 Station Road, Newmarket. Joseph Reardon (builder) is shown as living at 26 Ashton Road, while Daniel Patrick Reardon, also a builder, is shown as living at 12 Stokes Road - both in Mount Eden.

The firm appears to have been reasonably large as in 1923 it constructed a 1,300m² factory in Hepburn Street, Grey Lynn for Messrs Irvine and Stevenson, owners of the Dunedin-based St George Co. a well-known jam manufacturer. J.J. Reardon and Son was sufficiently large to tender for construction of a six-storey building for the Auckland Hospital Board in the same year.

Daniel Reardon, presumably the 'Son' in J.J. Reardon and Son, was a member of the four-person syndicate that funded development of the McLaren garage building at 586 Remuera Road in 1926. This building was constructed by J.J. Reardon and Son. At this time the firm was also completing a building containing shops and residences opposite the Remuera Post Office.

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

The development of Remuera

Remuera was promoted as Auckland's elite new residential suburb as early as the 1880s, its desirable northerly slopes attracting many of Auckland's professional and business men. An electric tram service was established along Remuera Road as far as Victoria Road in May 1904, superseding horse-drawn buses as the main means of transport between the suburb and Auckland's Central Business District (CBD). The tram line was extended to Greenlane Road in 1906 and by May 1913 ran as far as the Upland Road corner. Clusters of small shops gradually developed at regular intervals along suburban tram routes, capturing the trade of commuters and local communities. A spate of commercial development around the intersection of Remuera and Upland Roads in the mid-1920s preceded extension of the final leg of the tramline to Meadowbank Road in 1930.

Better motor access from central Auckland to Remuera was facilitated by the formation of Anzac Avenue and the widening of Beach Road, works completed in 1920. Manukau Road was widened and concreted at a similar time - the inner section was renamed 'Parnell Road' and the stretch through Newmarket was renamed 'Broadway'. The first mile of Remuera Road from Broadway to Remuera was concreted in 1921.

Local developments in motoring

The first motorcars in New Zealand were two vehicles imported for commission agent William McLean of Wellington in 1898. Auckland's first car did not arrive until two years later. Initially cars were regarded as an additional means of transport, not expected to replace the familiar horse-drawn vehicles. Roads were not suitable for car travel outside the towns.

By the beginning of the second decade of the twentieth century, cars - although a luxury - were not beyond the means of some successful shopkeepers and professional men. Doctors were increasingly coming to regard them as a necessity. The increasing affordability of the motorcar is suggested by an 'Olympia Motor Exhibition' held in Auckland in February 1924. A 32-page supplement published in the New Zealand Herald to promote the event, noted that there were 12,000 motor vehicles registered in the metropolitan area and that the 3,325 cars imported to Auckland in 1923 represented a three-fold increase on the previous year. By 1924 Auckland had over 17 miles of concrete highway in the city including part of Remuera Road; Manukau Road through to Onehunga; and Ponsonby Road, which - in conjunction with long stretches of tarred macadam roadway within the city and around its borders - provided motorists with 'as satisfactory a system of roadways as can be found in the Dominion'. Passage of the Main Highways Act in 1922 enabled arterial routes to be brought under national control and commencement of planning for a network of highways developed to a high standard. Further road building from central Auckland along Tamaki Drive, completed in 1932, opened up the eastern suburbs and could be expected to have increased trade at the McLaren Garage, constructed near the corner of Upland and Remuera Roads in 1926.

Development of motoring services

Increased motor vehicle ownership brought an associated demand for services. New Zealand's earliest motorists had relied upon blacksmith shops for mechanical repair work. From the First World War (1914-1918) public garages capable of accommodating 30 or 40 cars were being built in towns and cities as places where motorists could leave their vehicles, not merely for repair and overhaul, but for protection from the weather and from the attentions of bystanders. In Auckland, increased car sales/rates of ownership were matched by a flurry of motor showroom/garage construction in and around the central city in 1923. Providing for sales, servicing and parking for cars, these buildings differed from the small garage/service stations constructed in the suburbs.

With the increased popularity of motoring, existing retail outlets - primarily grocery and hardware stores - evidently added motor spirits to their stock. Dissatisfaction with the slow service at unspecialized outlets, however, invited a new way of retailing motor spirits, via pumps accessed from the kerb or off the street at a drive-in. Service stations developed as roadside facilities specially designed to sell motor spirits and other closely related products, such as lubricants, tyres and batteries for the automobile. Many offered repair services. By the mid 1920s, 500-gallon underground storage tanks had been introduced at many New Zealand service stations, with the petrol pumped by hand for gravity service to motor vehicles. Prior to this, motor fuel was sold in wooden cases, two cans to a case.

Motor tradesmen were specifically noted for the first time in the 1917 New Zealand Year Book, grouped with others as hands employed in 'motor and cycle works'. Nationally, there were 172 'repairing garages' in 1916, a considerable increase on the 71 of 1911. By 1922, the motor engineering industry was growing more rapidly than any other. The McLaren Garage is an example of the purpose-built suburban garage/service stations that developed in the 1920s to meet the needs of the rapidly increasing motoring public as rates of private motor vehicle ownership rose.

Construction and early use of the McLaren Garage (1926-1936)

The former McLaren Garage was constructed in 1926 by builders J.J. Reardon and Son, to the design of Rupert Morton. Earlier that year an allotment extending from the west boundary of the current site east to the Upland Road frontage had been subdivided into three. The site on which the garage was subsequently built was purchased by a syndicate comprising real estate agent Albert Burcher, architect Rupert Morton, solicitor James Bawden, and building contractor Daniel Reardon. At about this time Reardon and Son was completing construction of a block of six shops and residences (designed by Morton), opposite the Remuera Post Office. Morton also designed the four shops and residences at 594-608 Remuera Road, built immediately to the east of the garage. J.J. Reardon and Son had worked with Morton three years earlier when he won the contract for construction of a large factory Morton designed for a site in Hepburn Street, Grey Lynn.

Commercial development along Remuera Road was proceeding apace at this time. A building permit sought for the garage site was initially for construction of three shops and dwellings to the value of £4,900. However, the plans submitted and approved make it clear that the building was designed from the outset as a service station, with living quarters in the form of three flats above.

The visual design of the building was influenced by Spanish Mission style, sometimes seen as synonymous with progressive living and a carefree lifestyle. Introduced from the USA, it was frequently used in New Zealand for picture theatres and cinemas, schools and residences as well as commercial buildings. The connections of the garage with American architecture may not have been coincidental. American industry was at the forefront of oil exploitation and the production of automobiles in the early twentieth century.

Petrol pumps are shown in Rupert Morton's perspective drawing of the service station and garage, drawn in circa 1926, but are not indicated on the site plan. The sketch shows a tank truck leaving the forecourt, suggesting that the garage may have had its motor fuel delivered by tanker from the outset. The central bay of the two-storey building was designed with a small office and shop space on the ground floor, with showcase windows for the display of motoring products. The northeastern corner of the workshop was designated as a 'washing table', being a car-washing floor with a centrally located drain. The original T-shaped canopy was supported by two cast iron arms with decorative scrollwork that extended from a narrow arch, centrally located in the forecourt. Vehicles accessed the repair workshop via a set of double doors in the bays on either side of the shop/office area. The three separate flats on the upper floor each held two bedrooms, and were accessed from the forecourt.

The earliest business to occupy the building was established by Arthur Taylor who leased the premises from the owning syndicate. At this time there were three other garage businesses in Remuera Road, and two in nearby Ladies' Mile, Ellerslie. Taylor lived above the business in one of the flats. The other two apartments were occupied by taxi drivers. A taxi business, Blue and White Co-op Ltd, had been established in an adjoining building - now know as 594-600 Remuera Road - by 1934.

McLaren Garage and Bruce McLaren's early career (1936-1959)

In 1936, the business was purchased by Les McLaren (c.1902 - 1985), father of the internationally renowned racing driver, Bruce McLaren. Les changed the name of the garage to 'McLaren's Service Station'. Les had been one of the first tank truck drivers in New Zealand for Texaco, forerunner to Caltex, and with his three younger brothers was keenly involved in motor cycle racing, dominating the sport locally. After his purchase of the garage, he joined the Auckland Car Club, was a referee at the local speedway, and was a car racing competitor. Initially he drove a 4-seater Singer Le Mans, then a 2.5 litre 1935 SS1 (forerunner to the Jaguar), and subsequently one of the first production Austin Healey 100s, which both he and Bruce raced.

Following their purchase of the business, the McLaren family moved into the middle flat above the garage. The other two flats provided accommodation for the mechanics/service station attendants. Bruce McLaren was born in August 1937 and shared a room with his older sister in the upstairs flat overlooking Remuera Road. A balcony was built at the rear of the middle flat the following year to provide the family with an outdoor living area. The family remained in the flat until 1946, when they bought a new house a short distance away at 8 Upland Road.

Bruce McLaren lived above the garage for the first nine years of his life. As a small child, he is said to have worked on his tricycle beside the mechanics in the garage workshop. After the family moved to Upland Road, he graduated to a 750 c.c. Ulster Austin Seven, which he and his father rebuilt in the workshop behind the family home. His first 'motor racing' experience was gained on a figure of eight circuit he laid out as a 13-year-old in the back garden at Upland Road.

With his family continuing to run the business through the 1940s and 1950s, Bruce accumulated a sound base of knowledge through the garage's shop foreman, Harold Bardsley. He was also influenced by his father, who had long been interested in motor racing and was a foundation member of the Auckland International Grand Prix Association. Later known as New Zealand International Grand Prix (Inc) ['NZIGP'], this organization founded in 1953 brought international motor racing to New Zealand. Bruce's eventual gifts as a quality driver, a skilful engineer and an outstanding car designer have been attributed to his early environment, in which he developed an appreciation of these aspects. His success on a world scale has been ascribed to the fact that he learned to drive as early as possible, had his own car, had easy access to a garage, and was engulfed by motor racing while his father was still competing.

In 1954 Australian racing driver Jack Brabham brought his Cooper-Bristol car to New Zealand for the first Grand Prix at Ardmore. He later based his cars at the McLaren's garage in Remuera. Three years later Bruce McLaren and Phil Kerr worked on an 8CLT Maserati at the garage. One of a pair imported by Freddie Zambucka - one of New Zealand's best drivers of his day - the car was rebuilt for its new owner Frank Shuter for an attempt on the New Zealand speed record.

In 1958 Bruce McLaren was the first recipient of the New Zealand International Grand Prix-sponsored 'Driver to Europe' award, a programme designed to give a young New Zealand driver a year of top-class racing in Europe. McLaren, driving a Formula Two Cooper-Climax sports car, had been runner-up in the 1957-58 New Zealand Championship series. In 1959 Les McLaren (garage proprietor) and Bruce McLaren (motor mechanic) purchased the building from the remaining members of the syndicate that originally developed the site.

McLaren Garage and Bruce McLaren's later career (1960-1970)

While Bruce McLaren was in Europe, brief consideration was given to extending the ground floor of the building to the rear in 1961, enabling the front to be converted into a car sales showroom. This proposal failed to materialise, but the following year small modifications were made to the flats, including the enclosure of the balcony area of the middle flat to house a lunch room and store room. The flat passed out of residential use and was taken over by the service station and garage business.

In the United Kingdom, Bruce McLaren joined Cooper Cars, staying with the company for 7 years. In 1959 he joined the Cooper factory Formula One team alongside Australian racing driver Jack Brabham and won the United States Grand Prix at the age of 22, becoming the youngest driver to win a Grand Prix. This was followed by a win in the Argentina Grand Prix, the first race of the 1960 Formula One season. A year after winning the Monaco Grand Prix in 1962, Bruce McLaren founded Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd and was building his own racing cars and working with Ford with its GT40 programme. At the end of 1965 he left Coopers and announced his own grand prix team, which over time included New Zealand drivers Chris Amon and Denny Hulme. In 1967 the McLaren Can-Am Team became Can-Am champion, the first of five consecutive years the McLaren Team won the championship.

Bruce McLaren won his first grand prix in his own McLaren car at the Spa circuit in Belgium in 1968. History was made the following year when Denny Hulme won the Mexican Grand Prix in a McLaren car in 1969, Bruce McLaren himself having won the first Grand Prix of the decade (the Argentine) and his car having won the last in the 1960s. At the same time the McLaren Motor Racing Team Ltd won three championship Formula One events in 1968 and one in 1969. In 1970, the team entered USAC racing with its new Indianapolis car, the M15. Only one other team had ever been active in all three spheres of racing at one time.

In June 1970 Bruce McLaren died in an accident during testing at the Goodwood circuit in England. He is buried at Waikumete Cemetery in Auckland. He was inducted into the International Motor Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.

For most of this period, the business at McLaren Garage remained in family hands. It was sold in 1968 when Les McLaren was 66 years old, although the McLarens retained ownership of the premises as an investment property. Two years earlier Bruce McLaren, although still based in the United Kingdom, had purchased a service station (known as Bruce McLaren Motors) at 288 Te Atatu Road in West Auckland. The garage premises at Remuera were sold in November 1978 to Anthony and Mary Kirkbride who appear to have had an interest in the property since March 1973. The name 'McLaren's Garage Limited' is still owned by the original workshop lessee, who operates from small premises in another suburb.

Later history (1971-2006)

Following the Kirkbrides obtaining an interest in the property, plans for a new canopy and alterations to the ground floor of the building were put in hand in 1975, introducing roller doors to the garage entrances and aluminium joinery to the service station shop and office. Three years later brief consideration appears to have been given to conversion of the building into a shopping arcade and offices, but this proposal did not proceed further. Renovations undertaken in 1988, during which the location of the petrol pumps was changed, gave rise to questions as to whether the existing use rights under which the business operated in terms of the Town and Country Planning Act 1977 had lapsed, potentially threatening closure of the business after 50 years of trading.

The service station and garage operation remained functional, however, with the above-ground tanks at the rear of the property being removed in 1992. Six years later small individual fuel tanks, installed in the forecourt by Les McLaren in the 1960s, were removed as part of a service station re-branding exercise, rejuvenating the business. In September 2001 the Bruce McLaren Trust - an organization dedicated to promoting the memory of Bruce McLaren in perpetuity - moved into the central upstairs apartment, expanding into the eastern apartment in 2004. Operating partly as a museum, visitors to the building have included important individuals linked to motor racing history including the late Sir Tom Clark, Eoin Young, Ross Jensen and Jack Brabham, who - amongst others - have signed their names on a hallway wall. Two rooms are currently dedicated to memorabilia linked to Bruce McLaren, including displays of some of the trophies he won during his racing career. The westernmost apartment remains in residential use, while on the ground floor the service station and workshop trades under the name 'Remuera Upland Motors', continuing 79 years of operation from premises specifically designed for that purpose in the 1920s.

Physical Description


The former McLaren Garage is located towards the eastern end of Remuera Road, close to its intersection with Upland and Minto Roads in Remuera, one of Auckland's well established eastern suburbs. Residential sites in the vicinity of the Upland Road shopping village are occupied by large dwellings set in mature grounds, and include registered historic places such as Elmstone at 468 Remuera Road (NZHPT Registration # 2626, Category II historic place) and Clifton House at 493 Remuera Road (NZHPT Registration # 566, Category II historic place.

The garage occupies a 597m² site, one of three commercial sites located immediately to the west of the Upland Road intersection. Designed and constructed within three years of one another, these buildings are of similar scale and design. All have residential accommodation on the upper storey providing strong continuity to the streetscape. The garage building is set back from the front boundary facing Remuera Road to accommodate the service station forecourt.

The site immediately to the west is occupied by a large, two-storey, early twentieth-century timber villa. This well-maintained building is set well back from the road, increasing the visibility of the former McLaren Garage as approached from the west along Remuera Road.

Commercial buildings on the south side of Remuera Road opposite the garage are more varied in age and style, but - apart from the structure on the corner with Minto Road - are double-storeyed. Development on the southeast corner of Minto Road is a mix of single-storey and terraced shops, while that on the northeast corner of the intersection is more recent and, with one exception, single-storey. Other buildings in the immediate vicinity include a 1930 Auckland Electric Power Board building in Minto Road and the house at number 4 Upland Road, which is identified as a 'Category B' item in the District Plan.

A narrow alley separates the buildings at 586-592 and 594-600 Remuera Road providing, foot access to the rear of the site. The yard to the rear of the three sites adjoining the McLaren Garage has vehicle access from Upland Road, is asphalted and marked out for parking. Mature trees and a fence screen these commercial activities from residential development to the north on Upland Road.

Composition and layout of the site

The building is a three-bay, two-storey concrete-framed structure on a slightly sloping site which allows for a shallow basement. The building extends across most of the width of the site. The forecourt area occupies the front quarter of the site, with a sealed parking area occupying a similar depth at the rear. All of these lie within the legal title of the property and are included within the boundary of the proposed registration.

The garage workshop is at street level. The service station shop and office functions are now located in the adjoining building at 594-600 Remuera Road. Above the garage are three residential flats. The basement area, accessed from the exterior on the north side of the building, has a false timber floor, greatly reducing the original stud height so that the space is only suitable for storage. The basement originally contained two laundries that served the flats.


The building has an asymmetric pitched roof with the shorter, steeper plane facing the street. Elements such as the tiled roof bays at either end of the façade; and the arch with radiating sun motif above the central upstairs window, reflect the influence of the Spanish Mission architectural style that was making an appearance in suburban residential and commercial contexts in the 1920s. The upper section of the central triangular pediment is in-filled with glazed ceramic tiles accentuating the greater width of the central bay. The façade has been plastered in accordance with the architect's original design.

The two flanking bays have the original doors to the first floor apartments and large roller doors that provide access to the garage workshop. The central bay has been slightly modified but retains the essential form of the original. The articulation of the main elevation reflects the nature of the spaces within the building, with the façade divided into three primary elements: the central bay (incorporating the ground floor office and original service station, and the largest first floor apartment); and two flanking bays (each incorporating ground floor vehicle doorways to the garage workshop and a first floor apartment).

The east elevation adjoins the pedestrian access between the front and rear of the site and is unpainted. The west elevation is painted and has one window for the first floor apartment.

The north (rear) elevation has a four-bay concrete frame with yellow brick infill. A band of red bricks below the level of the window sills on the second storey provides a decorative element. The ground floor garage workshop has a number of steel-framed windows, between square-sectioned concrete columns, providing large amounts of natural light to the workshop. The bay in the east end has a door to the rear yard. Below the workshop is the former basement a number of openings in which are bricked up.


The building has two main floors and a basement. Most of the ground floor level, accessed from the service station forecourt adjoining Remuera Road, is given over to the garage with its four repair bays. A small office/store area (formerly the office store and showspace) adjoining the mid-section of the south wall is part of the original layout. On the upper storey are three two-bedroom apartments, only one of which is currently in residential use. The living room of each apartment has a southern outlook over Remuera Road. Apart from the large central apartment - which had a bedroom overlooking the main traffic thoroughfare and a central area in which the second bedroom, bathroom and kitchen were located - the apartments have a centrally located kitchen and bedroom with the second bedroom and the bathroom located at the rear, on the building's north side.

The garage workshop is accessed via the bays at either end of the building. The administrative office for the garage workshop is located in the former service station shop/office space in the central bay overlooking the forecourt. The north side of the workshop is dedicated to the servicing of motor vehicles. Concrete columns divide the workshop into four bays - two of which have vehicle hoists. Natural light and ventilation is provided by steel-framed windows that span the north wall. Toilet facilities are provided in the space below the stair that leads to the east apartment. In the west end of the blocked-up basement there appears to be evidence of the existence of the original hydraulic hoist - although no evidence of this equipment is visible in the workshop today.

Each of the first floor apartments has a separate front door at ground floor level in the south wall, with steep stairs to each flat. The two flats viewed retained most of their early layout, although the central and eastern apartments have recently been linked by construction of an internal connecting doorway. Each apartment is serviced by its own toilet and kitchen and retains much of the original joinery including doors, architraves and picture rails. The central and eastern apartments accommodate the offices of the Bruce McLaren Trust and a small museum exhibiting material relating to the motor-sport history of Bruce McLaren and others. Signatures in the hallway include those of Greeta Hulme, widow of New Zealand motor racing driver Denny Hulme; Formula One racing driver, yachtsman and Crown Lynn Potteries/Ceramco industrialist the late Sir Tom Clark; secretary/biographer to Bruce McLaren and a founding director of McLaren Motor Racing Limited, Eoin Young; and Australian motor racing legend Jack Brabham


Other service stations registered by the NZHPT include: Bursell's Garage, State Highway 26, Waihou (NZHPT Registration # 4269, Category II historic place) constructed in 1930, and the former High Street Auto Centre, Greymouth (NZHPT Registration # 5064, Category II historic place) constructed in 1935. Both buildings are designed in Art Deco style. A building formerly known as the Britomart Service Station constructed in 1923 on Auckland's Customs Street East, was located within the Customs Street East Historic Area (NZHPT Registration # 7160) but was demolished in December 2005.

Surviving older-style services stations in Auckland include:

'Shell Pitt Street', located at the corner of the Pitt and Vincent Streets in the CBD, built in the late 1920s. The service station component appears to have been extensively redeveloped in the 1960s or thereabouts.

'Shell Triangle', located at 574 Great South Road, Ellerslie, constructed in 1929. While the forecourt is modern, the originally garage/shop portion is identifiable, but is of modest design with little to distinguish it from other commercial/industrial buildings of its time.

The 'Classic Car Museum', located at 347 Manukau Road, Epsom, constructed in the Art Deco style circa 1929. Built as De Luen and Hardley's service station the original building has been retained as the front section of a more modern two-storey building.

The former service station located at 455 New North Road, Kingsland was also constructed in the Art Deco style circa 1929. Built as the 'Super Service Petrol Station' under the management of Harold R. Page, the rear (workshop) section of the building is occupied by Central Car Repairs Ltd. The front section is occupied by a hamburger bar and a florist.

'Oxton Motors Ltd', located at 100 Park Road, Grafton was constructed circa 1933 as 'Carlton Service Station' for proprietor H.J. Butcher. Currently a 'Shell' service station, this building retains much of its original form, detailing and character. Like the McLaren garage at Remuera, it incorporates residential accommodation on an upper storey - in this case a single flat.

The former BP 'Orakei Service Station' at the corner of Ngaiwi and Coates Avenues, Orakei was constructed some time after 1940, in the streamline 'Moderne' style. The former service station component of this little-altered building is vacant; the garage workshop section is occupied by 'The Car Repair Shop'.

Two west Auckland service stations have carried the Bruce McLaren name. The first, a service station at 288 Te Atatu Road was purchased by Bruce McLaren in 1965, and traded under the name 'Bruce McLaren Motors' until 1989. The building was demolished to make way for an extensive commercial development that incorporates 'Caltex All Seasons' service station.

The second, Shell's Bruce McLaren Service Station at Henderson takes it name from its location at 39 Bruce McLaren Road, a road named in honour of Bruce McLaren, but otherwise appears to have no other connection with Bruce McLaren.

The house that Bruce McLaren grew up in from the age of nine at 8 Upland Road, Remuera survives, although its land has been recently subdivided and ancillary buildings - such as the garage in which he worked on/re-built motor vehicles - have been demolished. Bruce McLaren's grave lies at Waikumete Cemetery, Auckland. The McLaren Garage is believed to be the most significant surviving place in New Zealand linked to Bruce McLaren's early life and motoring career, and the only building with which he retained a close lifelong association.

Few places have been registered associated with sporting history or linked with sporting personalities.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1926 -

1938 -
Balcony constructed north side of middle flat with roof over section outside kitchen/bathroom and part of bedroom.

Timber floor constructed in basement area, reducing stud height; basement window openings brick up; coppers in downstairs laundries removed.

1962 -
Balcony area of middle flat enclosed: lunch room and store constructed in west side of balcony area; original kitchen area reconfigured to become changing room;

1962 -
Wall knocked through to incorporate east side of balcony area into former mater bedroom; new doorway created between kitchen and bathroom.

1975 -
Service station canopy replaced; forecourt shop-front modified - timber joinery replaced by aluminium; doors to workshop replaced by roller doors;

1975 -
Terracotta tiles on roof of east and west bays facing street replaced with 'Decromastic' tiling.

1988 -
Petrol pumps relocated; unspecified internal alterations to garage; forecourt canopy altered.

1998 -
Forecourt revamped; petrol pumps replaced; service station shop/office relocated to adjoining building (594-600 Remuera Road).

2001 -
Internal connection made between central and east flats.

Construction Details

Concrete piers and footings, concrete structural frame with brick infill; corrugated steel roof (with two sections of 'Decromastic' tiling)

Completion Date

8th March 2006

Report Written By

Martin Jones and Joan McKenzie

Information Sources

Becht, 1993

R Becht, Champions of Speed: A Celebration of Bruce McLaren, Denny Hulme, Chris Amon, Auckland, 1993

Bush, 1971

G .W. A. Bush, 'Decently and In Order: The Government of the City of Auckland 1840-1971', Auckland, 1971

Holcroft, 1974

M H Holcroft, Carapace: The Motor Car in New Zealand - A Roadside History, Dunedin, 1974

Jakle, 1994

John A Jakle & Keith A Sculle, The Gas Station in America, Baltimore, 1994

Ludvigsen, 2001

K. Ludvigsen, Bruce McLaren: A life and Legacy of Excellence, Sparkford, 2001

McLaren, 1964

Bruce Mclaren, In the Cockpit, London, 1964

New Zealand Building Progress

New Zealand Building Progress

November 1922; August, September, December 1923

New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald, 12 July 1932, p. 6; 28 September 1933, p. 6.

21 February 1924, 'The New Zealand Herald Olympia Motor Exhibition Special Supplement'

New Zealand Building Record

New Zealand Building Record

November 1926

University of Auckland

University of Auckland

Auckland Sheppard File M889 (Rupert Morton)

Young, 1971

Eon S Young, McLaren Memories: A Biography of Bruce McLaren, Auckland, 1971

Auckland City Council

Auckland City Council

Auckland City Environments, Property file for 586-592 Remuera Road

Other Information

A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Northern Region Office

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.