Through parades and meet-ups, car clubs have become increasingly visible in recent times, but the history of car clubs is almost as old as the history of the automobile itself. The first car clubs began meeting at the turn of the twentieth century to organise racing events. Owners would share tips for repairing and upgrading their cars to increase performance. Because the club activities revolved around racing, car clubs met mainly in the countryside where there were fewer obstructions to driving.
By the 1950s, car models were seeing more planning and design to appeal to specific groups of drivers. More than ever before, owners were choosing their vehicles as an extension of their own image and personality. Whether they owned a speedy little Austin-Healy, a sporty Jaguar or a luxurious Bentley, car owners started to gravitate towards other people who loved the same models. They started joining clubs to share technical skills and teach one another how to maintain and improve their vehicles.
With the nostalgia movement of the 1980s, classic and vintage car clubs began gaining popularity, becoming the number one type of car club in the United Kingdom. Fans of older vehicles can join any of the hundreds of car clubs operating throughout Britain. Virtually every community has a place where owners meet outdoors to admire each other's vehicles while exchanging in shop talk and networking with experts.
For automobile enthusiasts, joining a car club can be a positive and rewarding way to enjoy their weekends with like-minded collectors. Car clubs are a fantastic way to socialise with people from all walks of life who share a similar interest in vehicles. Clubs are almost always family friendly and many members bring their families to meet-ups where they enjoy the fresh air and each other company. Club events are a great reason to get out of the house and away from the video games and television shows.
Many car clubs invite guests from the automotive community who may speak at an event or network with owners as they show their vehicles. Local mechanics and bodywork experts meet with owners and talk about the latest restoration techniques, where to find replacement parts and how to improve performance.
Car shows are also useful for networking with the local community. The many people who attend shows will often stop to chat with owners, giving everyone a chance to make friends and get to know one another. A lot of business and sales people will use auto shows to quietly promote their company. For example, one real estate agent travels around the countryside showing off his brightly coloured American hot rod. The vehicle is both unique and visible enough to have become his trademark. While at the shows he chats with people about the local community and mentions his profession while freely handing out business cards. During the week, he parks the same vehicle in front of homes he is showing and it is quickly recognised by people passing by, who are then more inclined to drop in on his open house showings.
Part of the fun of owning a fantastic car is being able to show it off to people. Most car clubs organise regular shows and parades. Usually the clubs have a symbiotic partnership with a local restaurant or auto parts outlet. The business allows members to park their cars in their parking lot for a meet-up and benefits from the new customers that are attracted to the site. Some clubs meet every Sunday during good weather, owners park their cars together and the general public is invited to walk around and view the cars. Often the shows begin or end with a parade of classic cars through town.
Car clubs are also known to do terrific charity work. Shows are almost always free to attend but often donations are taken for a local charity. For car owners, the ability to meet with one another, show off to the public and raise money for a charity is the perfect combination of reasons to join a car club.