The Association was founded in 1923 by Sir Crawford Douglas-Jones who was at that time Resident Commissioner for Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
When the motor car took the place of the ox-wagon, travellers who had to make long journeys about the country were able, mainly during the dry season, to make these journeys by motor car in a few hours or days instead of weeks. It was evident that the ancient methods of transport were rapidly being superseded by the modern. One of the chief difficulties experienced at the time by drivers of cars was that of keeping to the road they wished to follow. On leaving a town, the track would be distinct and easy to follow, but a few miles out it became difficult to decide which was the correct way: either the well-defined spoor or the indistinct one often almost hidden in tall tambookie grass. And often did the distinct track lead into some impassable vlei, where, without any warning, the car became bogged and impossible to move under its own power. It was plainly evident that some co-operation of motorists was necessary to provide funds for the preparation of road maps, description of routes and the erection of sign posts.
Through the generosity of some businessmen, the first General Meeting of the Association was held in July 1923 at Zimbabwe Ruins. This set a tradition over the years, and since then, all important AAZ anniversaries have been celebrated with a Vintage Car Run to Great Zimbabwe.