It could be several days before police determine whether the gruesome death of a car salesman was the result of foul play, an accident or self-inflicted.

The remains of Shane Malcolm Bell, 28, of Dallington, were found in the driver's seat of a burnt-out 1989 silver Subaru station wagon near the southern end of Dunlops Rd, near Loburn, North Canterbury, on Sunday.

The car belonged to a business associate.

Detective Senior Sergeant Brian Archer said a post mortem examination was completed yesterday. But he refused to discuss its findings.


"At this stage the inquiry remains a suspicious death investigation. We are trying to put together a picture of Mr Bell's movements in the days leading up to his death. A key component to this investigation is determining when the car was burnt out. We now believe this was prior to Thursday evening. A member of the public who was in the area has come forward and indicated they had seen the burnt out shell of the car at around 4 to 5pm on Thursday," he said.

Mr Bell was last seen at his Dallington home on Thursday morning.

Detective Senior Sergeant Archer said police were still making inquiries into Mr Bell's background for clues to his death.

He was a self-employed car salesman, who bought cars off Trade Me, repaired them and re-sold them.

Bullet holes found in the side of the car were not related to Mr bell's death, or the fire.

"A group of recreational shooters came forward and told police they were in the vicinity on Friday evening. They have indicated that the car was already burnt out at that time and they fired shots at the vehicle using a rifle," Detective Senior Sergeant Archer said.

Police have spoken to Mr Bell's family and partner who were "extremely upset and are trying to come to terms with his death".