100 years supporting automotive businesses

In 1918, Victoria’s rapidly growing retail automotive industry saw 15,150 vehicles and 27,424 licensed drivers in the state.

It was during this turbulent time that two car-dealer brothers, Henry and Percy Rickards realised that larger international counterparts could force smaller, local companies out of the marketplace. The brothers called together a group of garage owners to meet at the Bendigo Chamber of Commerce rooms on 20 September 1918 and decided to register a new industry association, the Retail Motor Dealers’ Association of Victoria.

Present day issues such as industrial disputes and skilled labour shortages were occurring as far back as 1918. To rectify these complaints, the association introduced a number of committees: the foundation of VACC’s current operation.

Soon there were calls to increase the scope of the association to cover allied motor trades and on 14 April 1920 the association was renamed the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC).

VACC purchased real estate on St Kilda Road in 1956, becoming the first motor industry association in the southern hemisphere to own freehold property. On 4 September 1958, accompanied by an eight-page newspaper supplement and car cavalcade, Victorian Premier Henry Bolte officially opened VACC House.

Over the years, VACC has grown to incorporate all facets of the automotive industry, including passenger vehicles, motorcycles, heavy vehicles and farm machinery, in the retail, service, repair and manufacturing sectors.

Today VACC provides key business support services for over 5,000 members including:

  • Dealing with member, consumer and industry issues
  • Developing and publishing automotive industry research
  • Advocating on behalf of members to governments and other agencies
  • Producing regular communications and publications
  • Promoting automotive industry skills, training and careers

The VACC continues to uphold a strong set of values that it was founded upon, fostering the growth of many small businesses across the state.