Sad Ending to a Car Club

Just came across this troubling story from the Bay of Plenty Times in New Zealand. While the story of the demise of this car club is sad enough in and of itself, there is some thought that we may see this happening more any more. And not just in the classic car hobby. Many hobbyists in areas from model trains to surfing have voice that opinion that folks just aren’t as interested in joining clubs these days or getting together for physical meetings.

British Cars Bay of Plenty club president Ron Harvey
British Cars Bay of Plenty club president Ron Harvey, with his 1955 Alvis TC 21/100 aka Alvis Grey Lady, reflects on the past 21 years of the club’s operation. Photo / George Novak

Passionate enthusiasts from the British Cars Bay of Plenty club have decided to call it quits on the registered charity after 21 years of operation.

Ron Harvey, 76, who has been president for 18 of those years, said due to ill health he had decided to step down and there were no volunteers to take on the role.

“It’s a decision which is tinged with sadness, as we have had some fabulous times over the past 21 years,” he said.

But Mr Harvey said most members were also members of other organisations, such as the Daimler Club and Jaguar Club.

Mr Harvey said the British Cars Bay of Plenty club was founded in 1994 with a handful of members and their cars, and evolved to a membership with at least 100 cars.

It was formed for members to gather to share their passion, for social outings, and as a registered charity to raise funds to help others.

Mr Harvey said the club had raised many thousands of dollars for the Tauranga community through events such as the Wings and Wheels show at Tauranga Airport in 1994, and the National AA Car Rally at Tauranga Racecourse in 1997.

In 2003, the club celebrated 100 years of motoring with a similar event at Baypark combined with the Tauranga Veteran and Vintage Cars Club, which saw more than 500 classic cars on display.

In a last act of generosity, the club has donated $5000 of its invested funds to Tauranga St John Ambulance, while another $3827 has been gifted to Friends of the The Elms.

— Sandra Conchie, senior crimes and justice reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Michael Carnell
Editor at Just British

Michael Carnell is the editor and founder of the Just British Online Motoring Magazine. As a lifelong British car fan, he has owned or driven British cars of all ages from Austins and MGs to Jaguars and Triumphs. He currently owns a 1966 Vanden Plas Princess 1100, a 1977 MGB, a 1978 Triumph Spitfire, and a 2002 Land Rover Discovery.


6 Comments

  1. I got my first classic car in my early 40s, and now, 15 years later, I am still the youngest person I know into the hobby. Millennials in their 20s and 30s are not as interested in collecting things, since their relationship with tech can be summed up by the phone I am using to compose this reply. They do not build plastic models or collect old tools, either. I do not know what can be done but I plan to reach out when someone younger does show any interest. Motoring itself is also less fun where young people want to live in the US, our cities. Car ownership and storage can be an expensive burden in such places.

    • I think there has always been a tendency for the car clubs to be older. It just takes a while for folks to mature to where they have the time and money available for their own hobbies. I know that I got out of the scene for a long time when my kids were younger and I was trying to raise a family. I also think the clubs could do more to appeal to the younger and more tech-savy crowds. I am amazed at the number of clubs that still require paper checks to pay for things like dues or show registration. Neither of my kids, ages 19 and 23, have a checkbook and I am basically eliminating mine.

  2. One problem with one person being in charge that many years is other members get used to doing nothing. Every club should be actively recruiting members to take on roles of responsibility from the beginning. New members in our club are required from the outset to work on a committee, plan an event, or help out with the annual show. Officers should serve a maximum of two years, and while serving recruit their replacements. Getting more people involved in the running of a club increases their personal investment, and the club is stronger. New members equal new ideas, fresh perspectives, and more involvement. It is sad to read that a club is folding. Our club is also actively working with the local university to recruit new members younger and with even more new ideas, and pass along to the next generation our love of these cars. We have embraced the difficult task of using new media to reach new people, like social media. You have to move forward for the next group of owners. Hopefully someone to buy our cars when we reach the point that we cannot drive them anymore.

    • I totally agree with clubs having someone energetic in charge of membership and recruitment. The clubs also need to accept feedback about methods of communication, times of meetings and events, and how everyone relates. I don’t see this movement dying out, but it is changing. And we need to embrace that change and move forward with it.

  3. My 23 year old son lives in San Francisco and is a member of a “maker club” there. The place is full of wood working tools, machine shop tools, 3D printers, laser cutters, electronics tools. Membership isn’t cheap but he has access to all these tools, courses in how to use them, and space to work in. When I visited, there was a VW bug engine being hot-rodded on one of the tables. So I wouldn’t write-off this generation entirely.

    • The Maker clubs are remarkable places – kind of like 21st century shop class. Many work with everything from computers to 3-D printing, to cars, to … well just about anything.

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