Born to be a mechanic: My first word was 'car'

NO word of a lie, Nathan Bell's first word was 'car'. So it's fair to say he was born to be a mechanic.

When he was 15 he left school and searched high and low for someone to take him on as an apprentice mechanic.

Now 27, it's only fitting this week the community members who put their trust in the Yamba businessman's services showed their gratitude in The Daily Examiner's Best Mechanic in the Clarence Valley competition.


Nathan Bell looks over a car at this business West Yamba Automotive.
Nathan Bell looks over a car at this business West Yamba Automotive. Adam Hourigan


The owner of West Yamba Automotive and adjoining Nath's Autos and Detailing was streets ahead of the competition in taking out the Facebook poll and was appreciative of the support from his family, friends and customers.

"People just ring up and put their car in, you don't always realise they really appreciate what you do," Bell said.

"I like The Daily Examiner Facebook page, and I've see these competitions all the time. I saw the builder one. But I didn't even see this one, I don't know if I skipped over it. "But my sister-in-law Allira (Robison) tagged me, my wife did it and it just snowballed from there. I woke up the next day and every time I opened up Facebook there were more notifications.

"I think it shows how big Facebook is."

As a businessman, Bell is aware of the growing influence social media has on business and uses it to help promote his own businesses.

"I've got one page for West Yamba and one for Nath's Auto. When we get a used car we post it up. The amount of people you can reach with one button is just unreal."

Bell admits he was always wanted to be a mechanic and stay in Yamba - and at first it wasn't easy.

"My dad always restored cars. My first word was car.

"It was kind of hard getting a start in Yamba but I was lucky enough to get a job here. When you're only 15 with no driver's license not a lot of people are really interested. I went everywhere from Ballina to Grafton.

"Warren O'Leary at West Yamba Automotive ended up calling me back and said he'd give me a go.

"It's a good life in Yamba. I didn't want to leave."

Four years ago Bell started his own detailing and used car business on weekends on the adjoining lot. It soon grew, with Bell dedicating equal time to both. Last year he bought West Yamba Automotive when O'Leary retired and now, with an apprentice, car detailer and mum in the office, there's plenty to keep him busy.

"We're always busy here," he said.

"Yamba is getting bigger and bigger and there's been a lot more happening in general.

"In the last two months in particular, with the roadworkds, a lot of spare parts people are coming in. One customer who's a tiler said he's been turning work away with so much going on. It's a bit of a change."

Check out the complete top ten list below:


West Yamba Automotive tallied a total of 33 votes and 185 likes, followed by Riepons Mechanical in South Grafton with 25 votes and 177 likes and in third spot was Keith McFarlane from O'Halloran Motors in Maclean, with 22 votes and 100 likes.

Of the 10 mechanics who made the list, three were in Grafton, three in South Grafton and two each in Maclean and Yamba.

Top 10 Mechanics In The Clarence Valley

1st: West Yamba Automotive

2nd: Riepons Mechanical Repairs

3rd: O'Halloran Motors

4th: Trevor Waterhouse Mechanical Repairs

5th: Southside Service Centre

6th: Cleavers Mechanical Repairs

7th: Al's Mechanical

8th: Powers Rego & Mechanical

9th: John Snape Motors Maclean

10th: Coastal Mechanical Services

Special Mention:

  • Westlawn Mechanical
  • Purnell Performance
  • McCrackin Diesel
  • Smiths Auto Performance
  • Harold Biffin Auto Repairs
  • Motortorque
  • S&A Auto Palmers Channel
  • Chris Whitton

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