As I-CAR celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, we thought it only fitting to provide some insight into the organization’s natal beginnings.
Things remained fairly static within the collision industry from its start in the early ‘40s up through the ‘70s. And whatever changes occurred did so at a pace that was easy to keep up with. But several industry leaders, the visionaries, could see things would soon change---and at a rapid pace.
With the introduction of the unibody vehicle in 1979/1980, cars were becoming more sophisticated. While paint technology had changed somewhat, and car-building had certainly changed, “body men” were still applying the same repair techniques they had used since the end of WWII.
And, it appeared to most that unless someone or some organization took the reins and forced change, shops would soon be incapable of making safe repairs.
In April 1979, Bob McDonnough of IDEA invited several industry leaders to meet at the Hilton Hotel at the San Francisco airport and began to devise a plan.
The group was composed of Dan Murray from General Motors; a representative from Ford; Bud Merwin representing Automotive Service Association (ASA); Gordon Holcomb, president of the Automotive Legislative Council of America; Jeff Hendler, executive director of the Autobody Craftsman Association; Donn Prover from the Equipment and Tool Institute; Bob Foote, president of Applied Power Corporation representing Blackhawk tools and equipment; a representative from the National Association of Independent Insurers; and Bob Mecherle, grandson of State Farm founder George Mecherle, representing State Farm Insurance, along with an array of shop owners and other interested parties.
The first thing they all agreed on was that collision technicians needed better repair information---and a lot more of it. If a vehicle had to be fixed a certain way, the OE had to let the industry know it and make the information readily available. The question was: What was the best way to do that?
Of course, each party had its own interests throughout the discussions. It was noted that several insurance representatives only wanted to find a way to make cheaper repairs.