Saying Goodbye to Andy Cohen

by Jeff Perlman

Andy Cohen noted car collector and co-founder of pioneering luxury and sports car accessories catalog company and retail store Beverly Hills Motoring Accessories passed away on October 19 at his hilltop home in Malibu, California due to heart attack complications.

Cohen, 73, was well known in collector car circles for over 50 years. In 1975, he and friend   
Jim DeFrank founded Beverly Hill Motoring Accessories (BHMA), converting an old auto parts store on Robertson Blvd in Beverly Hills. The success of this first-ever upscale car accessories boutique led to the launch of what would become a celebrated worldwide mail order automotive catalog, counting well-known celebrities and VIPs among its clientele.

The business ultimately grew to regularly print one million catalogs annually, earning acclaim as the automotive equivalent to luxury fashion retailer Neiman Marcus. From its core product offerings of premium-quality custom car covers, BHMA’s product line expanded to include an extensive selection of accessories, wearables and car care products for owners of the world’s most exclusive automobiles.

Both in-store and within the pages of its lush catalog, BHMA’s offerings continued to expand, showcasing handcrafted car floor mats, Porsche Design products, toys, watches, AMG performance enhancements and power upgrades for high-end SUVs. The addition of advanced electronic devices and entertainment systems were precedent-setting within the sector.  Leading automotive aftermarket sought inclusion in BHMA’s catalog, a definitive sign that they had indeed “arrived.”

Internationally, the BHMA catalog evolved into a motorhead’s “wish book,” for true automotive enthusiasts. Customers ranged from international royalty, captains of industry, and the biggest names in television, movies, and music. All shared a passion for the latest and greatest for themselves, their homes and their treasured rides.

BHMA also established itself as a trend-setting resource for holiday gift-givers, generating extensive media exposure both nationally and in Southern California.  Featuring an annual selection of exclusive “Ultimate Gifts For Your Car,” that gained large amounts of international media attention on one-off items including solid gold license plate frames, which debuted on “The Tonight Show.”

Assuming full ownership of BHMA upon DeFrank’s decision to sell his interest in the late 1980s, Cohen ran the retail and mail-order business until 1998, selling it to a Canadian investment firm.

Andy Cohen’s lifelong love affair with all-things-automotive began at an early age, as an avid reader of car magazines in his native New York. Years later, while on a visit to Los Angeles with his parents, he became infatuated with the California lifestyle, with its beautiful beaches, incredible weather, sounds of the “Beach Boys” and, of course, an abundance of hot rods and collector cars.  He ultimately relocated to Los Angeles, becoming the west coast sales representative for his father’s restaurant tablecloth business.

In addition to his flourishing retail and mail-order business, Cohen, along with fellow Southern California collectors, established the Beverly Hills Car Show, a charity event held annually at Beverly Hills High School. Showcasing Southern California’s most treasured collector cars perused by tens or thousands of guests, the event ultimately evolved into the Rodeo Drive Concours D ‘Elegance, held on Father’s Day at the luxury world’s most celebrated venue.

Cohen also owned a Beverly Hills based auto business that sold and brokered the world’s most sought-after exotics and hypercars. When a client wanted to purchase a luxury sedan or sports car, Cohen knew where to find it.  It wasn’t uncommon to see several of these rarities with prices above $10 million in his showroom inventory at the same time.

Each August, Andy would also lease one of the most prominent estates in Pebble Beach directly across from the entrance to the celebrated Pebble Beach Concours D ’Elegance. Gatherings at Cohen’s location became its own invitation-only “show within a show.” This year's displayed vehicles had a cumulative value of approximating $20 million.

Cohen’s own car collection was home to many of the world’s greatest marques, with an emphasis on rare Ferraris, Mercedes, and of course vintage Ford Woodies which drove his California dream.    That dream was further realized when he moved to his hilltop home above Malibu, where Cohen lived for over 25 years. Noted for its long driveways, the home regularly was an ideal location for the world’s car collecting elite and their rare automobiles. Cohen put together an exclusive cars and coffee event in Malibu every month that became a go-to event for local car buffs.

In 2017, Cohen resurrected the Beverly Hills Motoring Accessories brand with Kevin, his son as President. Again, it catered to the collector crowd with many products not found elsewhere.

At the time of his passing, Andy Cohen was preparing to unveil a new offering that would be another BHMA exclusive: carbon fiber car mats. The business will continue to be operated by son Kevin.

A passionately devoted father, Cohen is survived by his three children; sons Chad and Kevin, and daughter Chaya. They were the center of his world.

The car world has lost a great friend, but he leaves a legacy of fun for the open road.

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