The Coffee Clutchers are a group of car enthusiasts from Central Wisconsin who get together on an irregular basis for breakfast or to visit private car collections, auto museums and restoration businesses. The Coffee Clutchers have no rules, no dues and no newsletter. Their gatherings are just-for-fun get-togethers that everyone involved seems to enjoy.
We started going to Coffee Clutcher gatherings about two years ago. Since that time the average number of attendees has grown from 30 to 50. The last soiree was a bus trip to Madison, Wis., to see the RVM Classics collection there. Of course, there was a modest charge for the bus, but 56 car guys felt it was worth it. Driving to Madison would have cost more than the bus ticket.
Last week, we went to a similar get-together in Green Bay, Wis. Over there, the gatherings are called Garage Sessions. This session was a sort of a Christmas Party and there were probably 100-150 enthusiasts there. A ’64 Dodge drag car was put on display and food was served. It was held in a body shop and the parking area looked like a Wal-Mart lot on Saturday afternoon.
Garage Sessions are very much like Coffee Clutcher breakfasts, except that they are held at night. Other than that, they use the same format: no rules, no dues and no newsletter. Email is used to let everyone know the date, time and place of Garage Sessions.
It seems like informal gatherings like this are catching on. Both Coffee Clutchers and Garage Sessions started as hot rod activities, but expanded to include antique car collectors, muscle car fans and even British car lovers. While car clubs can be heard to complain about falling memberships, the informal gatherings are growing so big space is becoming a problem.
We think that car clubs could learn from this trend. It seems like modern day car collectors don’t want to sit around listening to last month’s minutes or the treasurer’s report. They want to see cars, learn about restoration work and share thoughts and ideas with other old-car hobbyists. Car clubs might be able to increase membership if they followed the same path in planning their meetings.