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Sir Colin Giltrap, philanthropist and Giltrap Group founder, dies

Author
Anne Gibson,
Publish Date
Thu, 18 Apr 2024, 10:07am
Sir Colin Giltrap. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Sir Colin Giltrap. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Sir Colin Giltrap, philanthropist and Giltrap Group founder, dies

Author
Anne Gibson,
Publish Date
Thu, 18 Apr 2024, 10:07am

Sir Colin Giltrap, the philanthropist and businessman who founded the influential and powerful Giltrap Group about 60 years ago, died last night aged 84. 

Giltrap, knighted for his contribution to motorsport and his generosity to so many over decades, spent a lifetime in the motor vehicle industry, although in more recent years he had handed over to sons Richard and Michael Giltrap. 

However, the founder and director in his early 80s remained active within the business, headquartered at 119 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn. 

Giltrap Group has significant land holdings on both sides of Great North Rd near the Ponsonby Rd intersection, due to the founder’s foresight. 

Giltrap Group says: “It all began in the 1960s when a young, car-mad Colin Giltrap co-founded Hamilton luxury car dealership, Monaco Motors.” 

In the early 1970s, Giltrap bought Matamata Motors and then a Mazda and Audi dealership at 444 Great North Rd, Auckland. 

From there, he expanded along that Great North road strip, buying many neighbouring properties on both sides as he expanded the vision. 

Giltrap Group says that in 1977, he founded European Motor Distributors which bought the rights for Volkswagen and later, Audi. 

In the 1980s, Giltrap bought Schofields in Newmarket. 

“Coutts Cars becomes a standalone BMW dealership, Coutts BMW at 150 Great North Rd, with Giltrap North Shore, also hosting BMW. Audi, VW Porsche, Rolls Royce and Bentley moved to 101 Great North Rd, under a new dealership called Giltrap Prestige. 

“This dealership also retailed General Motors products and later on Nissan,” the business said of that phase of its history.” 

Giltrap also bought half of Archibald & Shorter in Greenlane, giving it a stake in that Jaguar dealership. 

By 1989, Giltrap had bought a Toyota franchise at 101 Great North Rd and he got the rights to distribute Mercedes-Benz in New Zealand. He built a new showroom at 100 Great North Rd and the Giltrap Motor Group was renamed Giltrap Prestige. 

By the 1990s, that business had become New Zealand’s only Aston Martin dealership and it bought the rights to distribute Skoda in this country. 

New purpose-built showrooms were then developed for Audi, Volkswagen and Porsche at 100 Great North Rd and by the early 2000s, Giltrap had become this country’s only Lamborghini dealership. 

Lady Jennifer and Sir Colin Giltrap when he was knighted in 2012. Photo / Greg BowkerLady Jennifer and Sir Colin Giltrap when he was knighted in 2012. Photo / Greg Bowker 

In 2012, Giltrap was made a Knight Companion of the Order of New Zealand for his services to motorsport and his philanthropy, saying at the time he wasn’t sure what to make of his new title. 

“I think it’s quite a good honour. I didn’t realise when I first received it in the new year quite how much it meant but I’m starting to slowly get used to it. 

“I’m still a little but intrepid about it because I’m still Colin to everybody and a few of the staff don’t know whether to call me Sir Colin or Colin but, I mean, I want to get the message around that I haven’t changed: I’m just Colin, always have been and always will be.” 

The Herald reported then that he was a patron of the McLaren Trust and had supported and mentored numerous young drivers, and had contributed to many sporting events and charities including the Canterbury Earthquake Appeal and the Starship Foundation. 

“It might not be big donations, it might be two and a half grand here, a thousand there and that sort of thing, but we enjoy helping New Zealanders where we can,” he said. 

But being a patron isn’t always smooth sailing, he told the Herald in 2012. 

“Probably the worst initiative was paying huge money to get Tiger Woods out here for the New Zealand Open at Paraparam (Paraparaumu) but it rained all the time and he didn’t perform at all,” Giltrap told the Herald in 2012. 

“No, usually it’s great, very rewarding,” he said at the time of his philanthropy. 

By 2017, his business had new $40 million headquarters which won a national award from the New Zealand Institute of Architects. 

Michael Giltrap, group joint managing director with his brother Richard, said Warren and Mahoney’s design of the new Auckland building, 119 GNR, was way beyond what they had ever anticipated. 

119 GNR refers to the address at 119 Great North Rd and this building won regional then national architecture awards. It was designed by Warren and Mahoney. 119 GNR refers to the address at 119 Great North Rd and this building won regional then national architecture awards. It was designed by Warren and Mahoney. 

Earlier last decade, Giltrap Group became 100 per cent owner of Archibald & Shorter (Auckland) as well as Roverland (North Shore). In 2018, SEAT New Zealand opened its first dealership in Newmarket and by 2021, Polestar and Lotus became part of the Giltrap Group. 

Late last year, New Zealand Autocar magazine reported Giltrap had fallen in London, broken ribs and been hospitalised. 

Giltrap Group spokesperson Shaun Summerfield said at the time the family thanked those who wished them well 

Sir Colin is survived by his wife Lady Jennifer, his sons and their families. 

Anne Gibson has been the Herald’s property editor for 24 years, has won many awards, written books and covered property extensively here and overseas. 

This article was originally posted on the NZ Herald here. 

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