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|RARE SPARES LEGEND PROFILE
In the automotive industry, passion is a word that often defines so many who have achieved success and earned respect amongst peers.
As co-founder of Rare Spares Les McVeigh’s passion translated into a successful, fulfilling four decade career, so it was truly fitting that, in its tenth and final year, Les was honoured posthumously with the prestigious Rare Spares Legend award.
On the balmy Saturday night of Summernats 30, Rare Spares recognised the huge contribution Les made over his lifetime not only to Rare Spares, but to the modified, custom and restoration car scene in Australia as a whole. Les gave more to the industry than most people will ever know and the award was graciously accepted by Les’ wife Heather, and daughter Melissa, on his behalf.
The Rare Spares Legend Award was initiated 10 years ago as an important way to acknowledge the most deserving contributors to the automotive industry in Australia For Les, the automotive path began young.
At the age of 13, Les purchased his first car which he then proceeded to drive around the streets of Reservoir before it met its destiny as a paddock basher. At the age of 18 he bought an FX Holden for a grand total of $60, and while he was aware the car required work, was caught somewhat by surprise when it came to a grinding halt only 50 metres down the road. Unperturbed however, he installed a new engine and was a Holden fan from that day onward/
Throughout the early 1970’s, Les was the proud owner of both an FX and FJ Holden. He would travel to dealerships far and wide buying parts to restore his cars and with interest growing from other FX and FJ owners, eventually began sourcing and re-selling parts on to members of the Early Model Holden Club of Victoria, of which he was a founding member.
In 1975, Les joined up with John Rayner who shared a similar vision and who was also buying and selling Holden parts within his circles. The duo got on well and saw an opportunity to turn their hobby business into something more formal. Together they began making windscreen seals for FX’s and FJ’s, initially basing themselves out of John’s basement in Kew before renting a 1000 Sq. Ft. factory in Reservoir.
Not long after David Ryan rejoined the business which soon moved to a larger premises in Brunswick to cater for expansion as demand accelerated.
Travelling around the country and even overseas where Holdens had been exported became a huge part of the job, with Les tracking down parts and sending them back to the Rare Spares warehouse. Over the ensuing years countless trucks, containers and train carriages were filled with tonnes of Holden parts all being shipped back to Rare Spares. At one point, Les thought they may have even had enough parts that they would never run out; of course this proved to be wrong.
In 1986, Les recognised the demand for Ford parts, figuring if there was such a high demand for new, old Holden parts, there must be a similarly demand for Ford parts. So once again he headed around the country, adding Ford parts to the shopping lists.
Over the years, Les created lasting relationships with many of the major car manufacturers including General Motors Holden, Ford, Mazda and Nissan. His contribution to the company was instrumental in making Rare Spares the successful enterprise it is today.
Les was excited and proud to work alongside people who were as dedicated to their work as he was, and who treated and nurtured Rare Spares as if it were their own.
In his spare time, Les restored his beloved ‘Blue Heather’, an FJ Holden aptly named after his wife.
He was an honest man, who believed in integrity, held strong personal values and devoted his entire working life to providing the parts to enable hundreds of thousands of car enthusiasts plan, rebuild, and restore their pride and joy.
Les will be greatly missed in the Rare Spares community but will forever be honoured in the Rare Spares Legends Hall of Fame.