A tribute to Les McVeigh, his two retiring partners and a look at the past and future of Rare Spares
When it comes to keeping Aussie classics alive, there is no business that does it quite like Rare Spares. With a deeply rooted passion for all things automotive, the company has gone leaps and bounds to cover a variety of makes and models like no other. Rare Spares provides automotive enthusiasts across the country with the necessary life lines to keep their pride and joy running like a dream and looking great
The company started from humble beginnings, supplying new and refurbished parts for 1948 – FJ series Holden’s. The business quickly grew from a residential basement to a variety of locations throughout Melbourne as a result of the increasing demand and popularity of their products.
In 1986 the company expanded its offerings to also include Ford parts as well creating products that catered to OEM specifications and even developing an industrial rubber product range. Rare Spares was soon being distributed Australasia wide, the company had gone from being a small automotive parts manufacturer to an industrial powerhouse incorporating metal pressing, information technology, clips & fasteners as well as hose products.
Rare Spares has proudly supported the Australian Automotive Aftermarket over the years, and when it comes to keeping our pride and joy on the roads, it wouldn’t be a long shot to suggest that anyone with a classic Australian car has relied on Rare Spares to provide them with some of the finest of details. Also catering to industrial sectors, Rare Spares has been a significant and crucial contributor to our automotive landscape as a whole.
But it would be difficult to discuss Rare Spares without mentioning one of its most important contributors, Managing Director Les McVeigh, who sadly passed away in early June of this year. Les was an instrumental part of Rare Spares, co-founding and growing the company over four decades to now becoming a multi-million dollar parts supplier for classic Ford’s and Holden’s, as well as other manufacturers.
Not one to run a business solely with profit in mind, Les was an automotive enthusiast through and through. Since an early age Les enjoyed the hands on aspect of the scene which would explain his passion for creating important and even forgotten parts. At the age of 18 a young Les McVeigh purchased an FX (48 215) Holden from Dandenong that managed to travel 50 meters before blowing up. Not to be deterred, Les got the car home and got to work replacing the engine and has remained a Holden man from that time onwards.
Les as well as the Rare Spares directors are first and foremost passionate car people, so their enthusiasm and dedication has translated into the long running support they have provided to the automotive restoration community for over 40 years.
Les had been a vital part to the key of Rare Spares success, but other long time partners have been vital to ensuring the business’s growth and variety of products. Neal Videan, Director of Supply, is hanging up his boots after 36 years of contribution. When asked about his time at Rare Spares, Neal discussed how he played his part in bringing the company to life.
“Working with the company has been incredible, there have been so many things I have had a hand in getting manufactured and brought to market, but still working for the company today to bring in profits and dealing with customers that I set up years ago.”
A theme that is echoed throughout the company is the quality of the people who work for Rare Spares.
“I truly enjoy the diversity of the people who work for the company, I think we have a real family feel within the organisation”
When asked about the future of the company, Neal was excited for what is on the horizon.
“We will be growing the base of industrial products customers, which includes contract manufacturing and I think there will be more and more demand parts for these new parts, as well as for traditional Rare Spares product lines. Even with the demise of Holden and Ford people will still want to do up the Aussie icons.”
As Neal says goodbye to the company he helped build, he discussed what he plans to do in his spare time.
“I will have a few family duties to attend too but I actually have a soft spot for classic motorbikes. I usually play around with Vincent HRD’s.”
General Manager David Rayner also has also been fundamental to the growth of Rare Spares over the years.
“In the 36 years I’ve been with the company, it’s been incredibly interesting, enjoyable, often challenging but ultimately rewarding”
When asked about the most exciting aspect of being involved with the company, David touched on the importance of Rare Spares within the automotive community.
“It would have to be the end results of manufacturing a huge variety of componentry for the restoration market. That ultimately is what we do, making parts for motoring enthusiasts; it’s the most rewarding and exciting part of the business.”
David also provided an insight into where he sees the company heading in the future.
“As the cars get older, we will be making parts for newer cars, when they get 20-30 years old, we will be the ones keeping them on the roads. Of course we will continue to make parts for cars we traditionally made parts for as I can see the demand for these growing.”
Whilst Rare Spares is expanding, David plans to slow things down a little once he leaves the company by focusing on travel and maintaining his fleet of cars which includes a 1960 Cadillac Eldorado convertible, Ford Granada and a Ford Zodiac among others.
David Ryan, Director of Finance also provided some insight into the direction of the passionate company.
“There is still a vast array of spare parts that need to be made, we haven’t backed off on our new product program, and we are now making parts of the size and complexity that we hadn’t even dreamed of five to ten years ago. As the model years roll on, more parts will be required, it’s an ever unfolding landscape and one we are truly excited to be involved in.”
Lance Corby has been with the company for 36 years and now assumes the role of Managing Director. When asked about the future of the company Lance mentioned that Rare Spares will continue to grow despite the end of Australian vehicle manufacturing.
“Rare Spares is a progressive company, we will continue to move forward with the times and the fact motoring companies are moving manufacturing out of Australia doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom. There is a great opportunity for Rare Spares here and we are going to look outside of the box, we don’t want to restrict ourselves to what we are doing today. We will try and move the company forward in any which way we can.”
Melissa McVeigh, Director of Marketing and daughter of Les, shared her thoughts on the company’s legacy and direction.
“We are all very excited and optimistic about what the future holds for Rare Spares. Although we may have recently lost over 150 years of knowledge of those who are no longer with us be it in passing or retiring, their legacies, passions and drive live on in all of us.”
Melissa also continued to mention how Rare Spares will continue to flourish as time goes on.
“We now have a very dedicated, knowledgeable team at Rare Spares and we are all looking forward to the future in working together to continue to grow and overcome any challenges we may face with the changes in the Automotive Industry.”
“We are passionate about what we do and the people we do it with. As a wise man once said to me, if you’re not making mistakes you’re not growing or learning, just don’t make them twice.”
As Rare Spares continues to hone their focus on classic Ford and Holden parts, many new products are destined to hit the shelves, the future of Rare Spares continues to brighten as many of the common place cars we see today, become the classics of tomorrow.
However it is clear to see that Rare Spares co-founder, Les McVeigh’s legacy will continue to positively impact everyone in the automotive scene for decades to come and with Australian manufacturing coming to a close, the next chapter for Rare Spares begins.