Bourne (47) was widely hailed and top rally official Morrie Chandler said nobody had a bad word to say about him. "I am sure somebody at some time will come but there will never be another Possum. He's unique."
On April 18 Bourne was preparing for his favourite event, the Race to the Sky hill climb in the Southern Alps, when he was involved in a collision with another competitor.
He was kept in a coma until Monday when his family revealed he had extensive brain injuries and that his life-support system would be switched off. He died early on Wednesday with his wife Peggy and three children at his side.
Peter Raymond George Bourne was born in 1956 in Pukekohe near Auckland. He acquired his nickname as a result of a teenage driving indiscretion, when he rolled his mother's car when avoiding a possum on the way back from a mechanic's course in Auckland.
He began his rallying career in 1979, driving a Mark I Cortina with a V8 engine and placing third in his first rally. The result inspired him to become a professional rally driver and by 1983 he had attracted the attention of Japanese car manufacturer Subaru, who backed his New Zealand rally campaigns.
Further strong results followed and encouraged Subaru in 1986 to back him in rally events in Australia, Asia, Africa, the United Sates and Great Britain.
By the mid-1990s Bourne had established himself as the most successful rally driver in the Southern Hemisphere, a position he cemented with a string of successes right up until his death.
In 1993 Bourne was driving when long-time co-driver, friend and business partner Rodger Freeth, was killed in a spectacular accident on the first day of the World Championship round in Australia. Though devastated by the tragedy Bourne continued driving, dedicating the 1993 Asia Pacific Championship he subsequently won to his dead friend.
A seven-time Australian rally champion, Bourne was New Zealand champion in 1991 and Asia-Pacific champion in 1993, 1994 and 2000.
This year Bourne achieved a long-held ambition to drive on the world rally circuit. He came fourth in the first round in Sweden in February, although he had never competed on snow before.
Despite his failure to finish in the New Zealand round of the championship earlier this month, Bourne was seventh in the drivers' table.
Interviewed last year after winning his sixth Australian championship, Bourne was asked whether he would try for another. "Yes. I'm doing what I like doing. The trouble is that in a materialistic world people seem to think when you've done it once why would you do it again," he said.
"They fail to understand the reason you do it is not for the results, but because we're doing what we want to do and we've worked damn hard to put together the best team in this part of the world.
"The only hard thing is the time away from home. I have fantastic support from Peggy and the three kids. They hate seeing me go and when I ring up they ask whether I've won the rally yet. They don't expect anything but wins."