The History of AZ Autos

Few motor dealers or garages can trace their history back more than 120 years and through four generations of the same family.

AZ Autos has been trading in three centuries and we are proud to be retain our AZ name. It all started with Benjamin Alvarez, born in 1873, who entered the transport trade in around 1895 before opening a car showroom in London’s Euston Road in the early 1900s.

Benjamin is believed to have encouraged William Rootes, later Lord Rootes, to switch his adjoining business from bicycles to cars. This company developed into the Rootes group – famous for producing Hillman, Humber, Singer, Sunbeam, Talbot and Commer vehicles before being taken over by Chrysler in the late 1960s.

All three of Benjamin’s sons followed their father into the motor trade in the London area, and all were active in the years before the Second World War.

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Alfred (AC), the grandfather of current owner David, worked for his elder brother Joe, but soon joined the Army as he was already serving as a territorial soldier. After rising to the rank of Major with special commendations for leading convoys in the Middle East, Alfred returned to civilian life and found that the motor trade had changed dramatically. With the help of some old Army connections, Alfred soon built up a successful used car company in the Home Counties.

The business had West End offices in both Fitzroy Square and Warren Street which, at the time, was regarded as the centre of the UK’s motor trade. Alfred’s son Richard, David’s father, joined the firm in 1972.

The Alvarez family business became one of the largest wholesalers of used cars in the area, but moved out to Hertfordshire as the West End had become impractical due to parking restrictions and traffic congestion.

Richard continued trading from a site in Bedfordshire and was joined by David in 2008, who had gained valuable main dealer experience with both Mazda and Mercedes. David quickly built up the retail operation and created a service garage in Hitchin, before opening the Prestige showroom in nearby Graveley.

I wonder what Benjamin would think of the trade today?

Historical events in 1873:

  • Levi Strauss & Co begin manufacturing their famous brand of jeans.
  • Ulysses S Grant is sworn in for a second term as President of the United States.
  • The Heineken Brewery is founded in Amsterdam.
  • Work begins on the Natural History Museum in London.
  • William Gladstone (Liberal) resigns as Prime Minister, only to return two days later.