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CoolDrive Auto Parts Founder Inducted into AAAA Hall of Fame

16 Apr, 2019

CoolDrive Auto Parts founder John Blanchard Senior (W.J) has been inducted into the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association Hall of Fame.

After a lifetime in the automotive industry, W.J was officially added to the Hall of Fame at the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Expo Awards Dinner in Melbourne last week.

Now officially retired, but still active as an advisor in the CoolDrive Auto Parts business, the 84-year-old began his career in the automotive industry at his parents’ garage ABC Motors in Clifton Hill (Melbourne), helping his father as a five-year-old.

That led to the ability to service cars by age 11 and then, after leaving school, a long career with the likes of VW, Kenworth, Land Rover, New Holland and Girling, before a stint overseas and then striking out on his own.

In the late ‘70s, W.J established Melbourne Auto Air with his wife Shirley, becoming the first person to import automotive air conditioning systems into Australia, and since then that business has grown exponentially.

Today, CoolDrive Auto Parts is one of Australia's largest suppliers of automotive air-conditioning, engine cooling, engine management, rotating electrical, accessories and workshop products to the automotive and related trades.

Known to everyone at CoolDrive simply as “Senior”, W.J was acknowledged for his meticulous attention to detail, high level of organisation and entrepreneurial spirit, and today is extremely proud that CoolDrive remains an =family-owned business.

“Dad was very moved by being recognised by his peers and the many kind words expressed about his life’s work in the industry,” John Blanchard, CEO of CoolDrive Auto Parts said.

“It’s been a long journey and one that he’s loved, and I don’t think he will ever really retire. He continues to be a great resource to the business as an advisor and mentor, and we’re all delighted that he’s been recognised in this way by the industry.”

At the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association’s awards dinner, W.J was quick to acknowledge the loyalty and work of CoolDrive’s founding employee - Robert Piccone, who is still with the business today.

He also recognised the love and support of his wife of 63 years, Shirley, who has worked alongside him and supported him throughout his career.

A lifelong motor racing enthusiast, W.J has been heavily involved with the Victorian Historic Racing Register for many years and continues to donate office space to them, as well as supporting the racing exploits of son John and more recently eldest grandson Tim, who also works in the CoolDrive Auto Parts business.

W.J credits his long involvement with and passion for the automotive industry by providing him with many lasting life-long friendships.

CoolDrive Auto Parts is one of Australasia’s largest automotive parts distributors with a comprehensive range of automotive air conditioning, rotating electrical, electrical accessories, engine cooling, engine management, underbody, braking and suspension products. CoolDrive Auto Parts is 100% family owned and operated, and has over 30 branches in Australia and New Zealand.

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