Celebrating the Diamond Anniversary 1948 to 2008
Story and photography by Moss Staff
Editors Note: As a Moss customer for over 20 years I consider the Moss 60th Anniversary to be especially noteworthy. There are just a handful of companies catering to enthusiasts that can match the breadth and range of products that Moss offers to an ever expanding group of cars and users around the world. Here is the first installment in a special series celebrating the Moss diamond anniversary
If way back in 1948 Al Moss had bought a Ford instead of an MG TC, things might have turned out very differently. Al was then a young man living in Los Angeles and the lure of the TC was irresistible. Al became an avid TC enthusiast, and after reading about the successful road rallies being held on the East Coast, in the summer of 1948 he decided to organize one himself. It was one of the first rallies to be held on the West Coast.
The rally, which ended in Santa Barbara (where we are based), brought Al into contact with a bunch of fellow MG enthusiasts. He quickly discovered they all shared a common problem – service and parts for these cars were not widely available. Al saw the opportunity and opened an MG repair shop. Although the company originally specialized in service, a growing demand for spare parts led to an ever greater emphasis on parts supply. After moving to Goleta in 1961, Al published his first MG parts catalog in 1962. As enthusiasts embraced the British sports car movement, Moss Motors built catalogs for the MGA, MGB, Austin-Healey and Jaguar’s XK120-140-150 series. By 1977, Moss Motors was established as an industry leader. It was at this time that his long-time friend, Howard Goldman, whose own business was located just across the street, offered to purchase the entire Moss Motors operation. Al eventually took him up on his offer and entered semi-retirement to spend much of his time restoring and racing his collection of British sports cars, which he does to this day at his home in Arizona.
Expansion and Acquisitions
Soon after Howard Goldman took over, Moss Motors moved to a purpose built facility in Goleta, which offered more room and better access than the prior location. Moss continued to update and revise its catalogs, and the business grew rapidly as more products were added to the line.
It was during the late seventies that Moss greatly expanded its product research and new product development activities. So many critical components had been discontinued; it was obvious that many British classics would be scrapped simply because they could not be repaired for lack of parts. In order to keep the business and the hobby alive, Moss took on ever larger development projects. Ultimately, a complete upholstery manufacturing division was established to fill the demand for show quality interiors. The effort continues to this day, and is a great contributor to our strength.
Moss embarked on a number of acquisitions that would serve the British hobby well. In 1983, Moss acquired a company called Start Your Engines in Beltsville, MD. Start Your Engines was one of the pioneering Triumph parts and restoration specialists. This acquisition not only helped us expand our Triumph range, but also yielded a number of Triumph specialists with considerable expertise, many of whom are still with Moss. In 1985, Moss purchased a wholesale automotive supplier known as CARS.
By 1988, Moss Motors was the largest supplier of British sports car spares. The sales staff had grown from 4 to 18 and 12,000 square feet had been added to the main warehouse in Goleta. In a quest for more space our East Coast facility had moved twice, finally settling in a modern industrial park in Dover, New Jersey. That same year Rover Cars PLC (formerly known as British Leyland) decided to cease distributing original factory parts. They offered to sell their entire multi-million dollar inventory of “obsolete” spares. Moss Motors stepped up and bought the lot.
Once again opportunity knocked and in 1989 Moss acquired Classic British Sportscar Spares. This UK based organization included some of the most respected names in the industry. Among them were Cox & Buckles, Britain’s foremost Triumph specialists and their associate company Triumphtune, the original Sprite & Midget Centre in Richmond, Stafford’s MG parts in Manchester, and Naylor Bros in Shipley, West Yorkshire. The group became known collectively as Moss Europe. Also in 1989, the Nisonger Corporation was purchased.
By 1995, space was once again at a premium. A decision was made to move the entire operation to a 70,000 sq. ft. location on Rutherford Street in downtown Goleta. At the same time the upholstery manufacturing and machine shop were consolidated into one nearby facility. With all of the Moss US operations in close proximity to each other we have been able to conservatively grow all of the business units and each of the units have embarked on ambitious programs to meet the needs of our customers.
In 1995 an experiment in diversification led to our highly successful Mazda Miata accessories program. The Miata, very British in concept, attracted an enthusiastic customer base reminiscent of our British clientele and Moss responded with a range of enthusiast products which has grown to include a complete line of performance, personalization and restoration parts for three generations of this seminal sports car.
By late 1998 Howard decided it was time to step aside and put the next generation of growth to a new team. Company President, Glen Adams and Howard’s son Robert formed the new management team that would lead and continue to grow the business, via expanded product offerings and focusing on reproducing parts no longer available to the British hobby. As well as diversification into “specialty” cars like the Miata and others that attract an enthusiastic owner base. Moss has launched parts and accessory lines for the new Ford Mustang and F-150 and both generations of the New Mini.
The UK operations were later spun-off in a management-led buyout. Due to a combination of economic downturn and a major warehouse fire in early 2000 the UK operations, then known as Moss International, entered receivership. To safeguard parts supplies and customers and vendors depending on Moss, the US company reentered the UK market, purchasing the assets of Moss International.
With the US and UK operations consolidated into one organization benefits in sourcing and purchasing have realized while the best practices of combined Moss operations have improved service to car enthusiasts all over the United States, United Kingdom and the rest of the world. If you have a special Moss Memory you would like to share to help celebrate our 60th Anniversary, please send a note and a picture to firstname.lastname@example.org