Dagenham mechanic hangs up overalls after 40 years

don nicolson today

Don Nicolson is retiring after 40 years in business. - Credit: Mande Loftman

A Dagenham mechanic who "nothing is too much for" is hanging up his overalls after 40 years in the trade.

Don Nicolson, of Don Autos in Wantz Road, is due to retire today (Wednesday, March 31) after four decades fixing vehicles for customers - including former boxer Chris Eubank.

Mande Loftman, who has been Don's secretary for the past 10 years, said: "He always does as much as possible for customers. He's honest. He's trustworthy.

"Nothing is too much for him. He's done a lot for a lot of people. If people haven't got the money, he will say pay when you can. I don't think you get that anywhere else."

Don Nicolson in 1981

Don pictured 40 years ago when he started the business in Dagenham. - Credit: Don Nicolson

Don, 65, set up the garage when Ford's Escort, Cortina and Sierra as well as Vauxhall's Cavalier and Nova were among the most popular cars in Britain.


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A specialist in repairing the old Metrocab taxis, Don Autos became known as the place to go for drivers who needed cabs checked over before applying for taxi licences, Mande explained.

The company went on to win contracts with Barking Abbey School, plant hire firm Quattro Plant and was sponsor of Dagenham and Redbridge FC.

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The businessman has even been known to service the club's lawn mowers to help keep the pitch in top shape.

don's overalls

Don's overalls will be hung up for the last time today (March 31). - Credit: Mande Loftman

Don ran his own fleet of 33 taxis under the company name DZRL Taxis. The "generous" man even gave two old cabs away to help out a couple of customers.

Don also fixed lighting on a truck belonging to Eubank, who was middleweight and super-middleweight world champion in the 1990s.

There are customers who have remained loyal to Don ever since it opened and, according to Mande, many are shocked the doors are now closing.

"It's hard to find a garage you can trust. People know they are not going to get ripped off [at Don Autos]. They get what they paid for and it won't cost them a mortgage," she said.

"I've had lots of messages to say wish him well and thanks for the service."

As his 66th birthday approaches, it's time for the married father of three to enjoy a well-earned rest after a career caring for Barking and Dagenham's motorists.

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