The AACA’s Michael J. Jones (L) with Coker Tire’s Wade Kawasaki. Images courtesy Coker Tire.
On Saturday, February 13, the Antique Automobile Club of America held its 80th annual national awards banquet in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Described as the “Academy Awards of the antique car trade,” the black tie gala has traditionally honored AACA members and their vehicles, but the 2016 awards introduced a new trophy for suppliers, and the inaugural recipient was Coker Tire of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Founded by Harold Coker in Athens, Tennessee, in 1958, Coker Tire carved out a market niche by providing tires and wheels to the collector car market. Business grew rapidly, and in 1961 the company relocated to its current hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Under Harold’s leadership, Coker Tire went on to become the world’s largest supplier of collector car tires and wheels, and though he retired in 2004, Harold remained active in the company’s affairs until his death in November of 2014. Today, Coker Tire is led by company president and chief operating officer Wade Kawasaki and chief executive officer Corky Coker.
The Automotive Supplier Award was created in 2015 by the Hornets Nest Region in Charlotte, North Carolina, to honor vintage Ford parts supplier Dennis Carpenter. The text on the trophy reads, “Presented to a supplier or merchant of automotive restoration parts or components which uphold the originality of vehicles as they were delivered from the dealer. Established in 2015 by the Hornets Nest Region, Charlotte, North Carolina, to honor Dennis Carpenter, an innovator in providing original reproduction equipment Ford parts.”
Steve Moskowitz, executive director of the AACA, said of the award,
The Antique Car Club of America is proud to have selected Coker Tire as our first ever recipient of the Automotive Supplier Award. Our board could not think of a more worthy firm as the name Coker Tire comes immediately to mind when talking about the vast history of the hobby. Without the production of these specialty tires our hobby would not exist and we are grateful to the Coker family for their storied dedication to the hobby and to AACA. We are very proud to have had Harold Coker as our 1972 National President.
Wade Kawasaki was on hand to accept the award, presented by Michael J. Jones, AACA director and chairman of the national awards banquet.