Born in Otago, New Zealand, Crichton’s career began in his local Ford dealership, where he was quickly promoted to sales manager. A short time later, he became general manager of a General Motors dealership.
In 1972 he acquired an ailing used car operation which he developed in a short period of time into an American and European prestige car dealership.
His involvement with cars led him into motorsport with him going on to win a host of major motor race events throughout the country before finally moving to Honolulu in 1977 where he acquired the Mazda distributorship for the state of Hawaii.
He quit racing when he discovered that he has cancer of the larynx and switched to yacht racing. and is now best known as the owner of some of the world's fastest racing yachts.
He successfully competed in a number of major off-shore yacht races with his own yachts which included the prestigious Clipper Cup, the Kenwood Cup series and the American Big Boat series. He also competed in a number of other major international races including the Admiral's Cup series in England and quickly earned a reputation as one of the world's foremost yachtsmen.
After surviving throat cancer, though he now breathes through a hole in his upper chest, Neville Crichton sold his Hawaiian interests in 1982 and moved back to New Zealand where he acquired a group of Ford dealerships that were in difficulty. Under his stewardship, he turned them into the country's largest Ford dealership. He returned to motorsport and won the 1984 and 1985 New Zealand National Touring Car Championships.
He started a boat building company, Sensation Yachts, but withdrew as a result of a sell-out to his staff. However he remains a consultant for the company that continues to be one of the most respected luxury sailboat manufacturers in the world.
He purchased the total shareholding of Ateco Holdings Pty Ltd.. Under his direction, Ateco has developed into one of the big three Australian independent car importers. Ateco is the Australian importer of Alfa Romeo, Citroën, Fiat and Kia cars and commercial vehicles, while its New Zealand affiliate is the importer of Alfa Romeo and Fiat products. In mid-October 2005 they also took over the Australian and New Zealand distribution of two of the world's most famous marques, Ferrari and Maserati.