Clubs have always provided a useful meeting place for like-minded enthusiasts. The format and way people choose to ‘rub shoulders’ might have changed over time, but nevertheless the benefits of being a member of a club, association or group of equally keen Volkswagen owners still applies. Here’s why…
Once a month pub meets, ‘natter and noggins’ and more formal guest speaker evenings, technical talks and lectures about safer driving techniques might be a thing of the past, but the spirit of clubbing it with fellow VW enthusiasts still lives on. Just go to any VW meet to see the banners, flags and accompanying huddle of folding chairs if you want proof of the fact that VW clubs still exist – albeit in a very different format to days gone by.
Today, it’s a lot more spontaneous. Members have 24-hour contact through forums, Facebook, Instagram and various message boards. If it’s a nice evening and people are at a loose end, a meet can be arranged in moments. Likewise, if someone has a technical query – ‘Mike’ the forum’s mechanic will be ready with an answer by the time your typing finger’s left the question mark on your keyboard. However, the social side, technical help and feeling of being part of a bigger VW community isn’t the only reason why people still join clubs because there’s a host of other advantages too.
For instance, clubs belonging to the Association of British VW Clubs can take advantage of blanket Public Liability insurance. This allows clubs to legally hold meetings and gatherings of any kind, participate in shows as clubs or individuals representing their club, and even organise their own shows.
Then there’s the political clout of belonging to an owner’s club. As the ABVWC’s Steve Neill put it: “All owners clubs play a vital role in keeping the classic vehicle movement alive. By joining the ABVWC, one marque and independent owners clubs have access to guidance and support in the identification and registration of ‘historic’ vehicles. This can be particularly useful after a complete restoration where major parts from more than one donor vehicle have been used, for instance.”
Since the closure of local DVLA licensing offices, the UK’s licensing authority is using the rolling tax exemption to contact some vehicle owners, asking them to verify their vehicle’s identity. This is merely a house keeping exercise to freshen up their database, but it is throwing up some awkward situations – especially when a car’s had a reconditioned engine fitted for example, confirms Steve. “The hoops that an owner needs to go through to verify their vehicle’s identity is unlikely to be successful outside an owner’s club environment. The DVLA only recognises the authority of owner’s clubs that are registered with them,” he explains.
The ABVWC is the recognised umbrella organisation that many VW owners clubs stand under, with its chairman being the recognised witness for any vehicle identity application to the DVLA. The DVLA acknowledges that they are not experts but they can be too eager to issue Q plates and their own vehicle identification numbers (VIN), if the quality of the information that they receive is not up to scratch. Social media groups and internet based clubs don’t possess this kind of clout in an age when defining a historic vehicle – unmodified vehicles over 30 or 40 years old – is becoming a bit of a minefield.
But that’s not all. Enthusiast club members can also qualify for discounts on parts and insurance. In fact VW Heritage offer discount to club members – get in touch if you run a club – firstname.lastname@example.org. If you haven’t already why not register your club with the ABVWC too. If you are searching for a local club to join, check out their list of associated VW clubs here.
It’s a win, win and you don’t even have to wear a tie these days, unless you really want to…
The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of VW Heritage.