Car Club Survey

Roamin Angels Cruisin the Pines Car Show

Over the last few weeks, I have been in contact with about two dozen California car clubs.  The list of California car clubs that I received online is not 100% complete, but it gave me enough information to enable me to contact clubs with a similar makeup as the Roamin’ Angels.  Some of the men and women I talked with were a little apprehensive in the beginning, but soon they warmed up when I told them why I was calling – to discuss declining membership and what to do about it.

It goes without saying that most if not all the car clubs I talked to are going through the same membership issues that we are regarding declining membership.  Members are getting of an age where they just are not able to be active club members as they once were.  Then you have those who have passed away, moved, or are dealing with health issues.  Let’s face it, most younger people are just not into cars like we were at their age.

Every single person that I talked to was extremely nice and very willing to answer my questions to the best of their ability.  They seemed appreciative when I relayed to them some of our club activities during our half hour discussion and as I learned what other clubs were doing I was able to pass some of that Information on also.

OK Jack, what did you learn?  I will attempt to summarize the best that I can from my notes.


Most of the clubs have monthly evening meetings that are at a favorite restaurant as long as they are not charged for the meeting room.  One club has their monthly meetings at a restaurant on Sunday morning.  They meet at 10:00.  Visit until 11:00 when the meeting starts and lunch at noon.

Another club has their meetings before lunch on Saturdays.  They find that helps to bring in the ladies.  Some clubs have their meeting at a different restaurant each month so things do not get boring.

Not one of the clubs only meet quarterly or annually as we do.  A number of them felt their meetings are a way to keep the membership engaged.  No club had a speaker at every meeting but several would have a speaker when they could get one to talk about a subject that they felt would interest those in attendance. The speaker could be someone from an automotive paint store, vehicle maintenance, lubrication, tires classic and custom car insurance, etc.  Generally something automotive related.


A Christmas party would take the place of the December meeting and one club does not have a meeting in January to give the members time to wind down after the holidays.

One club occasionally does a meeting theme night such as Endless Summer luau where members wear their favorite Hawaiian shirt; or dress up for a 50’s night.  People bring an appetizer to share.

Another club has a live auction at one of their meetings.  Members bring in a couple of things from their garage that they no longer have a need for.  It could be a car part (I was told no engines or transmissions, etc.), an accessory or just some other automotive items.  Apparently, it is not unusual to see an item that was purchased in the past brought back again.  The proceeds go to the club to pay for a Valentine lunch for the ladies at a local buffet restaurant.   The men have to pay for their own meal.

One club has a meeting where members bring soup to share.  Of course, this would not be at a restaurant.  Another club has a membership renewal night each January at Round Table Pizza in place of a monthly meeting.  Several clubs do Coffee and Cars or Cars and Breakfast on Saturday or Sunday mornings.

One town pays a club $5 per car for members who bring their cars to some of the downtown association events.

Another club has a Bingo night.  It could be a pot luck or at least a dessert night.  Half of the proceeds stay with the club.

Sip and Paint has been very popular with the ladies of one club.  The club also does a Christmas Light Tour as a caravan.

One club rents a blow-up movie screen in the summer time and does a drive-in movie night.  They borrow or rent a projector, pop some popcorn, and show a classic car movie.  The same club also does a mystery dinner tour that includes three member’s garages.  The members who sign up pay a small fee to cover the cost of the food and drinks.  They meet at a designated location at 6:00 p.m. at which time they are given a map to the first stop.  The garage door is open and the group has the first course that has been prepared or bought by the resident.  When it is time to leave, they are given a map to garage two for the main course which could be pizza or something else bought or prepared by that resident and then on to the third garage for dessert.  The evening wraps up about 9:00.  There are no monthly meetings when they have the special events such as those mentioned above.


A number of clubs find day trips popular with their members.  Some will be to a close-by location that they have previously visited or to new locations if possible.  It could be somewhere historic or just a visit to another town or caravanning as a group to a car show.  Several clubs are adamant that the special classic or custom vehicles are at the front of the procession followed by the members’ family cars.  A few clubs have done trips involving one or more nights, but they do not seem to be a prevalent.

Several clubs have found the poker runs for club members only are very popular.  It is another way for members to get their cars out on the road.  Half of the fee goes to the winner and the other half goes to the club.

Garage tours have always been popular with the Roamin’ Angels, but it has been suggested that we expand that to include automotive related shops or industries.  It could be automotive machine ships, welding shops, part suppliers, etc.  Any place that does work that would be of interest to the men and women in our group.


Nearly every club has a Christmas party.  A few collect toys for the kids.  One club is near a military base.  The service people drive by the distribution point with their families in the car.  The club has the toys separated by age group.  They hand out the age-appropriate toys to the kids in the car.  This is done in January as most of the families are off the base in December.


Nearly all clubs that were specific as to what vehicles were allowed membership into the club have opened membership to anyone, as with the Roamin’ Angels or have at least relaxed the rules to attract a broader base of members.


Several times a year, one club spotlights a member in their newsletter.  Many members know almost nothing outside of the car club about a fellow member whom they may have known for years.  It can be interesting to find out that they really do have a life that is not related to the automobile.


One club has a large presence in their local July 4th parade.  That is something we should expand at our parade.  It would be good P.R. for the Roamin’ Angels plus show the general public our toys that we are so proud of.

Several clubs have expressed interest in joining us for informal car club shows.  A free location would have to be found.  An invite to somewhat near car clubs would be sent out for them to caravan to the location.  There would be no awards, no prizes, and no cost.  We could use any free advertising that is available to us.  We could set up a BBQ and ice chest with sodas and water which we would sell with any proceeds going to our club.  This would be a multi-club event.

Several of the clubs that I talked to do a car show.  Some shows were as little as 30 or 40 cars, and some hundreds.  No club did more than a 1-day show.

I do not recall talking to one club that doesn’t give back to an organization or the community.  Not one of the clubs I talked to puts on a swap meet, but that is a suggestion that I made to several.  Way to go, Jim!


The Karel Staple chapter of the Studebaker Driver’s Club which I belong to puts out a calendar each year.  Members submit a photo of their vehicle in a setting of their choice along with a paragraph related to the photo.  Members reserve and pay $15 for the calendars so they know how many calendars to order.  This is not part of the survey, but it might be something we could consider doing.

I learned that Bakersfield/Kern County has an organization that oversees all of the car clubs.  Before scheduling an event, the clubs check in with that organization to make sure there are no conflicting events.  This would stop the unfortunate issue that we had with the Sierra City and our car show being on the same Saturday as it was last year.


As previously mentioned, just about all clubs are suffering from declining membership.  Some have just disbanded, while others have joined forces to remain viable.  Let’s work together to ensure that the Roamin’ Angels don’t have to confront that decision

Even though this endeavor was time consuming and required a lot of detective work by my wife, Peggy, to get the contacts, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting a number of very nice people.  I hope that I was able to give them a heads up on some ideas that they might be able to incorporate into their club activities.  Hopefully we can use some of the ideas that were passed on to me to help make the Roamin’ Angels one of the premier Northern California car clubs.