As told to Rob Mullner, Chief Enthusiast
by Ben Hershkowitz, President Newark Auto Products
In the latest installment of our Made In America series we celebrate a company that has served the Auto Aftermarket for over 100 Years and as you will see actually preceded the Auto Aftermarket starting with horse drawn carriages.
Originally known as Newark Auto Top and Body Company, the company was established in 1907 and has been in continual operation since then. Founded by Lee Seaman,he served as an apprentice and then floor supervisor for the J. M. Quinby Co. of Newark, N.J. Quinby was one of the country’s foremost manufacturers of horse-drawn wagons and carriages. Original wooden benches needed cushions. Some sort of protection against rain and snow was desired and was supplied by Quinby as optional extras.
As automobiles began appearing in greater numbers, Lee started his own business to supply interior items for both wagons and automobiles,since early automobiles like wagons and carriages were completely open to the elements.
This is where Newark Auto entered the scene –the craftsmen created and installed seat cushions, canopy tops, (usually over a simple wood frame)and side curtains. Tops were removable. Transparent and flexible side curtains that could be rolled up down and stored under a seat were created from material called isinglass.
In 1910 the president of Princeton University arrived at company headquarters requesting work on his new Model T Ford. His name was Woodrow Wilson — he became governor from 1911-1913 and later, President of the United State.Another well-know customer was Thomas Edison who drove down to Newark from his West Orange, N.J. laboratories for goodies for his new “motor carriage”.
Roy Warshawsky, long-time chief of The J.C. Whitney Co, and Warshawsky and Co., major mail order operations was also a customer. Newark started a business relationship with Warshawsky in 1961 and has continuedfor 55 years.Roy and Newark began doing business together when Roy purchased a 1915 Model T Ford in rough original condition. He had it shipped to Newark for complete refurbishing which included recreating the original diamond tufted genuine leather upholstery, door panel covers, floor mats and a new convertible top.
Newark’s first products to be sold nationally were replacement carpets made of 100% wool for luxurious Cadillacs. At that time only a very few luxury cars used actual floor carpeting. All the others used rubber matting.
Over the years the company moved in lock-step with the automotive industry and trends in the Aftermarket and transitioned into manufacturing many types of automotive interior products and accessories. Included were cloth, woven fiber, woven Saran and clear plastic seat covers, genuine sheepskin seat covers, full floor carpets for all American and Import cars and trucks, replacement floor rubber mats, convertible tops and dozens of specialty items. Most cut by hand by craftsman using old world techniques and original style materials for a correct look and fit.
In the last 20 years Newark Auto has specialized in sewn to contour Replacement Carpets for classic cars, domestic makes such as GM, Ford and Chrysler and imported makes such as Nissan, MG, Triumph, Fiat, and Toyota to name a few and Molded Rubber mats for Classic Pick up trucks.
Ben Hershkowitz, present CEO and President says he loves to repeat one statement the company has made over all the years. “Newark Auto has been in continual business operation since 1907 (now 109 years) without interruption from, fires, floods, strikes, riots, or civil insurrections, and we expect to keep that record going.”
Congratulations to Ben and the Newark Auto Products team for all of their efforts to meet the needs of JC Whitney customers restoring and enhancing their cars, Jeeps, trucks and more.
To see the full assortment of Newark Auto products please visit: