One of the best things about owning a classic, vintage or collectible car is having the freedom to hit the road in the vehicle of your dreams; feeling the miles slip away behind you as you sit perched behind the wheel of a rolling piece of timeless automotive art. Another awesome thing? Knowing that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who feel the same way about driving as you do.
Oftentimes, those people even feel the same way about the exact same car as you do (or the automaker, at least). Given humanity’s innate desire to form tribes and make connections, it’s not surprising to find that innumerable classic car clubs exist across the nation. Some are nationally organized, while others represent enthusiasts from your town or county. From the most expensive Bentleys and Rolls Royces to the dirtiest rat rods around, these clubs all have one thing in common: Everyone there loves cars.
But is a classic car club a good fit for you? Here’s a few things to consider when looking at your local club chapter or enrolling in a nationwide association:
It’s not just a club – it’s a community
Many car clubs have been in existence for quite a while, and have built a huge following around their particular type of vehicle. The Classic Car Club of America has been around for about 70 years now – long enough for someone who joined in their twenties to have kids, grandkids and even great-grandchildren all become members themselves. As such, many car clubs can begin to feel like a surrogate family as time goes by.
The community of car clubs gives you an immediate commonality with your fellow members – you can all sit down and talk about something you’re really passionate about, which is what draws people to all types of groups. In an increasingly digital world, the opportunity to have a friendly conversation with another person – even if you don’t know each other at all – is increasingly rare … but not at your local club’s car show.
Access to eons of car knowledge
Maybe your car counts its age by the decade. Or maybe the members of the car club have decades of experience working on cars just like yours. Most likely, it’s a combination of both.
A car club offers you the chance to talk to people (either in person or online) who may know a lot more what that tick coming from underneath the engine may be, or how to get your trunk to close all the way, or maybe just the best kind of carburetor to bolt on for a few extra HP.
Either way, wouldn’t you rather learn about your car from a fellow enthusiast versus an afternoon Googling untrusted resources? (Other than us, of course.) For example, the Cadillac & Lasalle Club forums have literally hundreds of thousands of posts from Caddy fans throughout the years, which offers you a huge resource for your own Coupe de Ville or Eldorado questions.
Give yourself a chance to give back to charity
Many car clubs have a charitable aspect to them, be it organized roadside cleanup days, fundraiser car shows with proceeds donated to charities, or even just collecting new toys at the holidays.
When you’re just a lone car owner on your own in your garage, it can be tougher to find ways to give back to your community, but when you’re part of a car club many of these things have already been happening for years – you just get to join in and lend a hand. It’s easier for you, and better for your community in the long run.
And if you’re part of a car club that doesn’t have a charitable aspect to it? It’s much easier to get the giving started with the help of your fellow members than it is to do on your own. Either way, clubs can have a big impact on their immediate community, while also enjoying the camaraderie of car lovers.
And yes, there are some other occasional perks
Okay, if you want to save a few bucks on parts and merchandise, car clubs are good for that too.
Many car clubs have established relationships with various vendors and registered mechanics; for example, the Corvette Club of America offers discounts on repairs and tires at various mid-Atlantic vendors, as well as discounts on things like track days and autocross events.
Other clubs offer their members exclusive opportunities to buy and sell their cars or parts to other members, ensuring a certain level of fairness in pricing and the knowledge that your car is going to another genuine enthusiast who will take good care of it.
Some car clubs also have their own in-house publications for members, like the Rolls-Royce Owners Club, which puts out their Flying Lady Magazine six times a year. In addition, only club members are allowed to purchase their merch and attend their shows, which is another benefit other clubs may offer. The RROC even has their own club museum, which is rare … but goes to show how far some clubs will go to add value for their members.