Australian Auto Accessories
How It All Began
Australian Auto Accessories was started by Garry Smith in 1963 in the northern Melbourne suburb of Preston. The first product handled by the business was a Pin Striping Kit inspired in Chicago, but which they manufactured in Australia. The kit was available in black, white, red or gold, and it comprised fifteen different decal designs. Australian Auto Accessories sold the kit almost exclusively by mail order, which was a rarity in those days in the automotive field.
Earlier at age fifteen, Garry came into contact with his first aftermarket (as distinct from original equipment manufacturer) accessory. The product was a Wolf Whistle, purchased by his father, which originated from Yoder Manufacturing in Little Rock, Arkansas.
From the age of sixteen Garry would catch a train each month from high school into the city of Melbourne to purchase the American publication Hot Rod. His interest in Hot Rod magazine was sparked by the two racing cars his father ran in Templestowe and Rob Roy Hill Climbs as well as other venues. One of these cars was a Cooper 500, which was sign-written Cold Rod. The other was a Cooper 1100 with a larger capacity engine, and it was sign-written Warm Rod. The products advertised and written about in Hot Rod magazine were of great interest to Garry, especially the J.C. Whitney accessory ads.
Garry later noticed that most car accessories available on the Australian market were either Australian made or imported from England and the Continent, with virtually no products imported from the U.S.A.
In 1965 Garry made a whirlwind twelve week trip to fifteen countries, and spent seven of the twelve weeks in America. During that trip Garry, acting on gut instinct, placed orders with California Custom Accessories, Hollywood Accessories, Hollywood Wheel Company and James Auto Specialties in California. He also placed orders with Hutchins Company in Missouri, Jubilee Manufacturing in Nebraska, Gem Manufacturing and Warshawsky & Co in Chicago, Wallfrin Industries in Brooklyn, and Del-Krome in New York State. Products from these companies were received exceptionally well in the Australian market place.
During his 1965 trip Garry met Ed “Big Daddy” Roth in California and he became the Australian licensee for the range of Ed Roth T-shirts. Australian Auto Accessories produced and marketed these T-shirts (which were a runaway success) with in excess of 200,000 sold in Australia.
In the latter half of the 1960s the company became increasingly involved in performance parts for V8s as related to the Holdens and Fords of that era.
The trading name of Australian Auto Accessories, originally registered in 1963, was incorporated into a company in 1967, and in 1971 a partnership of ten companies was formed trading as Australian Auto Accessories. An enormous amount of time and energy was directed into the group of companies and by 1974 Australian Motorcycle Accessories, a member company of the Australian Auto Accessories group, was the largest importer in Australia of parts and accessories for Harley Davidson motorcycles.
In 2003 Garry’s contribution to the industry was recognised and honoured by the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) when he became the inaugural inductee in the AAAA Hall of Fame.
Australian Auto Accessories has travelled a variety of unique and exhilarating paths over the years. Currently the company offers a broad range of top quality products for both the V8 and 4 cylinder markets, as well as a selection of specialty items for selected classic cars.
The organisation can claim to be the most experienced importer and wholesaler of accessories and performance parts in Australia. We have innovative products incorporating the highest quality technology and materials. Australian Auto Accessories has a knowledgeable team of dedicated staff and strives for product excellence coupled with aggressive pricing.