When the words “automotive” and “aftermarket” are mentioned in the same sentence, you’d be forgiven for thinking of superchargers or turbos or bodykits or droning exhausts. The fact of the matter is, there really wasn’t much of that at the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Expo (AAAE) which was held at the Sydney Exhibition Centre 11-13 March 2013.
What the average punter (quite fairly) forgets is that just about anything you buy for your car after you’ve bought it is, effectively, aftermarket. That covers items from o-rings and gaskets to exhausts and catalytic converters to oils and filters to brake discs and pads. Although the expo was somewhat smaller this year than in the past, it still covered 5 acres and three of the five halls available.
Check in was painless; the staff more than willing to help and unutterably polite which bade well for the rest of the visit. First up, though, was a wonderful but unexpected catchup with the two dynamic owners of HDT Special Vehicles, Peter and Sandy Champion. Shortly afterwards a chat with former V8 Supercars commentator, Paul Marinelli, before a walk through the near five acres worth of equipment. There’s something in the order of two dozen categories; brakes, 4wd accessories, chemicals, electrical and electronics, tools, performance parts, just to name but a few. Within these groups were over thirty exhibitors, in some cases, including quite a few from the Asian business interests, so certainly there was plenty of choice for attendees to look at. Passing the Pedders Suspension stand I noticed rally driver and MRTPerformance owner Brett Middleton standing alongside Scott Pedder, a great indication that companies are backed by their owners. Auto industry guru Paul Franks was also in attendance and said g’day.
It was hard to not be overwhelmed by the sheer variety and diversity of product; there was plenty of hands on in the form of displays, plenty of people to talk to, a goodie bag or two but what really stood out was the friendly, unfussed, laid back atmosphere of the personnel manning the display stands. The relaxed body language and easy smiles spoke of knowledgeable people in a comfortable environment.
The size of the stands varied; Disc Brakes Australia had a good sized display with plenty of their brilliant products on show, Precision International delighted with a Corvette taking centre stage, Extreme Performance Clutch had a range of vehicles to look at whilst a small but impressive display came from Zhejiang Dicastal Hongxin Technology with some tasty looking wheel designs.
The expo itself ran over three days and included speeches and presentations; to fully absorb the experience a full day would be required in order to look at and appreciate each of the displays. A Wheel Thing thanks Mark Walker from Mediacom Services for the opportunity.