Did you know there are more members in car clubs—and clubs related to historic vehicles—than any other social group in the country? The reason is simple. Membership in a club is about much more than brunch cruises, club meetings, and car shows.
Car clubs have come a long way since the Antique Automobile Club of America was founded in late 1935. For one thing, they are no longer just about cars. From classic snowmobiles to helicopters, military vehicles to mopeds, historic vehicles clubs in America are many and mind-bogglingly diverse.
Bob DeKorne, former Club Coordinator for Hagerty Insurance, says club-sponsored car shows and events, rallies and cruises, help bring to life and preserve North America’s rich automotive history. Clubs donate millions annually to charities and—whenever a large car show comes to town—help generate revenue for local businesses.
But says DeKorne, according to regular Hagerty enthusiast surveys the greatest benefit of club membership beyond the social aspect is the bottomless well of resources clubs provide the individual.
Nuts and Bolts
As Hagerty Club Coordinator DeKorne helped compile what is, arguably, the most extensive parts, club, and collector resource locators on the web. But within this list are the individual clubs themselves. Each offers the individual access to an even deeper, more specialized network of knowledgeable experts unique to the particular vehicle that inspires you.
From the Oldsmobile Club of America to the GTO Association of America, long-established vehicle clubs have technical advisors who are passionate about helping their members find parts and answer technical and historical questions.
For individuals working on restoration projects, The Packard Club also offers project guidance on everything from trim codes and engine colors.
The AMC Rambler Club maintains an online “parts source guide” that contains nearly 300 sources for everything from air conditioning/Freon substitutes to vacuum wiper repair. The Corvair Society of America has an online service for recommending parts and service providers.
Research and Registry
People become devotees of historic vehicles for all sorts of reasons. But one thing they all share is a passion for preserving the past and—where restoration work is concerned—getting the job done right. Clubs are there to help. In fact, many club members get as big a thrill helping someone else work on his or her car as they do on their own.
The Antique Automobile Club of America and the Jaguar Club of America have their own libraries and archives for members. Other clubs, like the Rolls-Royce Owners Club, even have their own magazines devoted to technical and historical information. The RROC, for example, publishes The Flying Lady, six times per year.
Once you go to all the trouble and expense it takes to fully restore a vehicle, what’s next? Showing off the fruits of your labors, of course; these days, that means more than just hanging out at weekend car shows.
The American Station Wagon Owner’s Association encourages members to post pictures of their wagons online to share with others. The ASWOA’s member gallery is constantly being updated and expanded, so it’s like a virtual car show every day of the week.
The Shelby American Automobile Club (SAAC) uses the internet to cast an even wider net into the vast and enthusiastic knowledge base of their members. Their world registry is a virtual encyclopedia of facts and figures, production records, and individual histories of every car built by Carroll Shelby: Cobras, GT350s, GT500s, Ford GTs, King Cobras, Mustang notchback Trans-Am cars and more. It contains everything SAAC has been able to discover about these cars since it began, back in 1975.
One of the best things about joining a club is that a person can play with his or her vehicle and do something positive in the process. In addition to the millions clubs donate annually to local and national charities, the best clubs are also very busy trying to reach the next generation of collector. Most realize the need to protect the future of the hobby to the extent that many, like the Future Corvette Owners Association, go so far as to set up clubs exclusively for young people.
Camaraderie, activities that include the whole family, the inside track on parts, expert help working on your vehicle, or any of the other benefits listed above. Why would you want to join a car club? In the end, a better question would be why wouldn’t you want to join a car club?