You know the scenario. You take your only-slightly uncommon or only-slightly aged prize car to your local garage; the kind of place that can get you winter tyres and a new ECU for a Vectra by that same afternoon. You need a wheel bearing, or headlight switch for your Mk2 Escort, or your 2004 Boxster, your 2016 Mustang or your 1968 Volvo Amazon… you know, only slightly out of the ordinary cars.
And you are met by complete and utter bafflement by the normally-competent mechanics. They don’t know how get the wheel off, or the dash out, or even whether they need metric or imperial spanners for the job. They are also concerned that they’re not going to be able to get the part ordered in the morning, delivered by lunchtime and your pride and joy out of their hair by tea time.
Why trouble these folks? It’s not their fault they don’t understand (or that they weren’t born when your car was made) it’s probable that you’re looking in the wrong place. What you need is a place where mutually supportive folk who share your interests hang out. You want to be talking to the owners’ club for your marque.
Where else can you ask seemingly stupid questions of random strangers about incredibly obscure bits of incredibly niche motors? In an owners’ club forum of course. And the more obscure your pride and joy, the more likely it is to have a completely rabid fan club. Whether you drive a Jowett Javelin, an Austin Princess or a rally-tuned, former famous owner Impreza, your people are out there.
Landrover 101 ex ambulance... in case you were wondering
Joining an owners’ club might not spring immediately to mind when buying a car, but the benefits can often be substantial and immediate. Many clubs have automatic discounts from trusted suppliers, or get special rates at particular garages or events. And nearly every owners’ club has a surprisingly packed schedule of events, with regional representatives, local meet ups and inevitably, the big summer weekend gathering. Whether it’s the Messerschmitt Bubble Car Club, or the Lincolnshire Low Riders, you’ll find a surprising amount of rallies, meets, and most importantly, people who know more about your car than you do and who are happy to share that knowledge. They will be able to tell you where to find and buy that odd little rubber bumper you need to keep your bonnet latched properly (and they may even have one in the shed that they’re happy to give to a fellow-enthusiast) - and even more importantly, know how to fit it.
VW owners are more a tribe then a club
The best bit about joining a club, though, is that you’re (finally, perhaps?) in the company of other people who think like you do. They like the same kooky cars that you do - they too, appreciate the curve of the Mk1 Mini’s wings, or the way that a Volvo Amazon estate tailgate hinges open. Or the shape of a Peugeot 205’s steering wheel. You’re in safe, and equally enthusiastic hands.
Have a look and see what’s out there. You might save your membership fee in a week of discounts, you could make a hundred new friends and be inspired to head on the road trip of a lifetime. And remember, the more niche your car is, the more likely it is to have an owners’ club.
Oh, and there's rallying for these Jowetts
by Chipps Chippendale at 27 Feb 2018, 00:00 AM