The earliest automotive trade association in New Jersey dates back to 1907 when the Newark Automobile Trade Association was organized. That organization prospered through its promotion of an annual automobile show, which was held for many years in the Sussex Armory in Newark. The popularity and success of those early shows led to annual auto shows being held, until the beginning of World War II. Subsequently, statewide auto shows were again held during the period 1993-1997.
In 1918, the concept of a statewide automotive retailers association was launched. The New Jersey Automotive Trade Association (NJATA) was organized and members were solicited. NJATA continued to receive financial support from the Newark Automobile Trade Association until 1944 when a separate dues structure was established for the State organization.
The Newark Automobile Trade Association and the New Jersey Automotive Trade Association operated out of the same offices in Newark until the mid-1940s, when NJATA relocated its offices to Trenton in order to be closer to the legislative “process” in the State Capitol.
In 1946, the Newark Automobile Trade Association officially became the Essex County Automobile Trade Association. That same year, with the help of the association, 15 county associations were formed. Subsequently, on July 3, 1947, the State association was officially incorporated as the New Jersey Automotive Trade Association.
Twenty years later, in October 1967, the association’s original incorporation certificate was amended to reflect a change of name to the New Jersey Automobile Dealers Association and, in 1995, the association’s name again was amended to the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, Inc. (NJ CAR).
The concept of establishing a permanent headquarters for the Coalition dates back to the 1960s. In 1972, the association purchased a tract of land in Ewing Township, approximately five miles northwest of downtown Trenton, to build permanent facilities to house the association offices, provide meeting space for its leadership, and space to house additional member services that would be offered. Construction of a two-story colonial-style building, with over 11,000 square feet of floor space, was begun in 1973. The building was completed in December 1974.
When the Coalition was looking to operate a statewide agency to process members’ title work, additional office space was necessary. Fortunately, a building at 770 River Road, with 10,000 square feet of floor space, became available and was ultimately purchased by NJ CAR. One-half of the space in that facility is used to house the Coalition’s Motor Vehicle Operations, including NJ CAR’s Online Registration Program.