You want to join a car club because you enjoy driving your old car around. Car clubs are about driving cars around, aren't they? And besides, you'll be able to get a red-plate permit at a fraction of the cost of full registration, won't you?
As they say in the classics: :"And what part of Fairyland are you from, sport?"
Established car clubs are about many things, and driving old cars around is often only a minor part of their being. The bigger, older, and richer the club, the smaller that part is likely to be.
Here's how it works.
A group of enthusiasts, much like yourselves, who like driving cars around, get together and form a club. Soon others want to join them. The early days of a club actually involve a fair bit of driving around. Then the club gets bigger.
Because of the size of the club, it is beyond the scope of just having a word to your mates about a weekend run. You need to have a newsletter. The size of the club also means that planning must go into it. Meetings, often on a monthly basis have to occur to plan things.
Once meetings, on a formal basis occur, the club has changed, and a new type of member is attracted: the Anal Bureaucrat. These bastards love meetings, and above all, they love structure and organising others, because this is POWER.
Also, as membership increases, funds roll in. The AB's will then insist that the club needs property: clubrooms, library, etc,etc. The meetings slowly become the focus of the club, because this is where the AB shines. Talk about, rather than driving cars becomes the important factor.
The club becomes an Owner's Club, not a Driver's Club. Ownership of, rather than use of, cars becomes most important in this Club. In fact driving is secondary to talking about cars at meetings. Events become short little drives to places where more talking about cars can take place. I know, I've been in clubs where a drive of over 50k's is preceded by a debate about whether a bus should be hired!
The Owner's Clubs also increasingly attract the Restorer Purist owner. This particular genus will "restore" a car to better than new "showroom" condition. They become instant experts on that model, and bore the bejasus out of anyone within earshot. They are also that painful arsehole who will insist on pointing out stuff that others don't care about, like: "You know that you should have used a BSF 1/4" bolt there, instead of a 1/4" AF, and besides that nyloc is not original."
These little twerps do this for POWER, because their normal lives are so bland and useless. They are also the ones who reckon their cars are too good to use, and will arrive on car runs in moderns, and still bore the shit out of anyone within earshot.
Into this little mix you introduce a genuine bit of POWER, like the right to determine who is granted the right to have a Permit, and a Red Plate, which amounts to registration at a quarter of the full rego rate, and the system goes toxic.
I am writing here about Victoria. The situation differs state to state a little, but the principles are the same.
VICTORIAN CLUB PERMIT SCHEME
VicRoads has received a number of enquiries recently concerning the use of vehicles issued with Club Permits operating outside of the conditions of the Club Permit Scheme. The following information is provided for the interest of motoring club members.
The Club Permit Scheme allows the members of VicRoads approved clubs to use their vehicles for a low cost that reflects the limited use of their vehicles.
Vehicles issued with Club Permits can only be used on a highway in connection with official activities organised by or under the auspices of an approved club, and in preparing the vehicle for such club activities. There is also a provision for a club to issue a 'Special Use Authorisation' so that members can use their vehicles for 'one-off' activities such as a family wedding providing there is no commercial gain associated with this use.
And there you have it! A door an anal donkey could bolt through.
The AB's, who position themselves into the key posts in the clubs, because they are the only ones who want to do that type of stuff, make themselves the Keepers Of The Keys To Freedom. And they wield their power ruthlessly, and in contradiction to VicRoads regulations.
I will re-emphasise that : THEY ACT IN CONTRADICTION TO VICROADS REGULATIONS.
VicRoads does not require any registration holder to submit themselves to annual roadworthy examinations. Many clubs, under the guise of "safety" corral their members to submit to this, before they renew their permits. There is absolutely nothing on the VicRoads Permit Renewal Form that even mandates a roadworthy, or an inspection. This is a means of control by clubs over their members.
In fact VicRoads does not even require a Roadworthy Certificate for any car, on the very good reason that "Roadworthiness" is a precise legal term, within the meaning of the Act, and very few cars 50 years and older could actually meet that requirement.
So why do clubs ask for it? A bureaucratic cop-out, and a blunt instrument to hold over their members.
I will post the Form that the Ferals use later, but, any club Committee member has the POWER to say that a car is fit to travel on a public road, and VicRoads will accept it. Simple as that. The rest is bullshit.
Why don't they do it? YOU ASK THEM!
As for special provisions, dispensations, etc.... all just lead to corruption. I personally know of a Secretary of a major club who resigned from his position after many years, but asked to be allotted control over the Permits. This meant that this little bureaucrat was able to personally question the private use of every car, and act as a little god. What crap!
Don't get me wrong, I don't really care what owner's clubs do, but what I get pissed off about is that, like religious fundamentalists, they think their way is the only way, and will discriminate against anyone who, for example wants to present cars like we drive.
In the country, there is generally just one car club per town, and they enforce their rules. This article is directed towards helping the many, especially in the country, who don't want to conform to the Owner's Club model.
So.......what do you do about it? I'll tell you what WE did in 2005!
Let me say straight off, the founders of the Feral Sports Car Club are all veterans of the old car game. We've all been on Committees in Owner's Clubs, and other so-called Competition Clubs, which suffer from the same degenerative condition, and we were determined to do something different.
Forming the Club.
We decided it would be a good idea to form a club. We rang up VicRoads for some guidance as to what actually constituted a Club capable of being recognised by them. They were pretty vague about it, but reconned if you sorta had about 6 to 8 members, that'd be about it. When pressed, and asked if Incorporation would be a help, they said,: "Oh! Absolutely!".
So, on a hill called The Monk overlooking Castlemaine, 8 of us (4 blokes, 3 partners, and 1 daughter) formed the Feral Sports Car Club. We divied up the positions on the Committee, and that was it. Got stuck into the piss.
Incorporation. Why do it, apart from VicRoads liking it?
The answer is this little clause:
"Members and office bearers are protected against personal liability for the organisation's debts and other legal obligations."
To read the rest of Consumer Affairs blurb on Incorporation click HERE .
So, after forming the Club, and reading the stuff on Incorporation, we figured we would have to have a Club bank account, which was a bit of fun. "The name of the account is what?" asked the lovely lady, of the two aged reprobates in front of her. Anyhow, she complied.
Then we downloaded the Model Rules from Consumer Affairs, which you can get by clicking HERE.
Don't even think of modifying the rules, because it costs money, and anyway, they are never referred to after that.
Then you fill in the details, post it off, with the fees, and wait.
Not too long after, you receive a nice certificate back in the mail declaring that you are an Incorporated body. This is tantamount to a birth certificate. You exist in the eyes of the law!
The next thing you do is ring up VicRoads, say that you are a car club that has been incorporated, and could they please send you the forms so as to be recognised by them in order to be able to participate in the permit scheme. It's as simple as that!
A couple of days after that the forms arrive. You list your membership numbers, and the cars that you have. Note! Not all the cars need to be going. You can include cars that are "projects". In fact no-one will check up anyway. You are ,after all, dealing with a bureaucracy, and, as long as all the spaces are filled in, who gives a shit?
Most important is that the main office holders get named and their signatures registered, for these punters: the Prez, the VP, the Sec, and the Treasurer, all have the right to sign off on permits.
The forms, with a little verbiage stating why you are different from other clubs in your area, and the Inc Certificate, are sent off, and a nervous wait ensues.
Soon after, a letter, with the official form saying that you are ridgy-didge arrives, but you are still suspicious!
The test comes when you present a car at VicRoads, without a roadworthy certificate, but only The Form!
I have replicated our Form below. You will have to make your own header, but, copy the wording of this form exactly, because it works.
Might it be said that when we first approached VicRoads to get our first permit, we were a tad nervous. It couldn't be this easy, could it? Something's gonna have to go wrong.
We sat there in the office, waiting for our number to come up. We had a copy of our VicRoads doc saying we were ridgy-didge with us. The girl called us up, giggled at the name, looked at her computer and frowned. "Excuse me," she said, and disappeared into an office. We sweated.
"Oh! It's all right," she said, "The computer hasn't caught up with new clubs!"
She took our money, gave us the permit form, and a week later the red plate arrived. AS SIMPLE AS THAT!
As a matter of interest, the owner of the car, the Safety Check Officer, and the Committee Person were all the same person, the ultimate DIY rego system.
At this point, I'll just summarise. You need just 4 mates, with partners to bolster the numbers, and 4 cars, to form a club and be able to be recognised by VicRoads to issue Permits and plates. You do not need to get Roadworthy Certificates to get your cars on the road, and you do not need established car clubs to tell you what THEY think you should do. They hate this, and, quite rightly, feel very threatened by this.
How you run your club is even more threatening to them.
Working Within The System.
The Law is a funny thing. It is proscriptive in that it tells you what is not allowed. The other side to that coin is that everything that is not forbidden is allowed! When you approach the Permit system with that mind-set, there are very few boundaries.
Vehicles issued with Club Permits can only be used on a highway in connection with official activities organised by or under the auspices of an approved club, and in preparing the vehicle for such club activities.
Look at these words carefully. It does not say "used only on official activities", but rather "in connection with". So you could be out driving on a nice Wednesday, by yourself, you stop at a pub. A copper pulls you up and you say you are planning an outing for the club for the next month, as is your right.
The law also does not say what an "official activity" actually is. Could be anything you, as a member, or office-bearer, say it is.
And the preparing of the vehicle for an undefined activity can mean whatever you want it to.
What the law does NOT say is that you can only use the car once a month. You can have as many activities as you want. One every day if you want to, and you can travel as far as you want, and visit anything you feel like. What you are unwise to do, though, is drive it to work and park it there everyday.
It is wise to download the VicRoads rules on Club Permits, print it off, and have it ready stapled to your Permit, so that you can show the copper, because they often do not know the law. Click HERE to download the info.
The Anal Bureaucrats of the owner's clubs get a bit heated over what I'm going to say next, because it goes against all of their ideas of control. They say we are abusing the system, but we're not, it's just that OUR club structure is different from theirs, and they can't deal with it.
We say that each member can post their own official event, and can determine if they want to do it alone, or in company.
Here's how we do it.
We don't have a magazine, we have a hotmail account. On that hotmail account, which each member has access to , there is the Calendar listing events. Each member has the right to list any event, and email the amended calendar off to all members and friends. If they really want everyone to come, then they email it well in advance, and possibly ring up a few mates as well. If they want to go alone, they just post it a few minutes before they leave, either way it's an official club event. The calendar is printed off as evidence, and other members can be called on to provide back-up, though this has never happened.
The calendar has the logo and is in the format on the left.
Armed with the Permit, the Rules, and the Calendar any member is bullet-proof, and can enjoy the use of their car, which is what it is all about anyway, or should be.
Soon VicRoads is going to bring in a 90 day logbook, which is OK, even though under the present scheme we can do more than 90 days if we want to. Some of the owner's clubs fought against this scheme because they saw it as a loosening of their control over their members. It's not really, because once a year they have to sign off on permit renewal, so I urge punters to form their own clubs anyway to be rid of the control freaks.
A Few Traps To Avoid.
Once you get going, you will be noticed, and others will seek to join you. Flattering though this may be, avoid the temptation to get big, because you will end up as yet another Owner's club, and the Anals will take over. Remember, you are under no obligation to accept anyone to your club.
Here's what we did.
We set a limit of Full (i.e. voting) Members. Others who join us as members are Associate Members till a vacancy occurs. The have all rights, except voting rights.
We have an AGM that lasts 1 minute, and no other meetings.
We do not accept anyone who just wants to join. They are invited to come along, to see if we get along, providing their car is acceptable, but if they are a pain in the arse they are pissed off.
We have minimal fees, enough to cover the cost of Incorporation, and the website, plus $10 to keep the bank account open. Any surplus we drink.
We are perfectly happy to run the club until we feel it is no longer fun, and then we'll kill it off. The absence of any property or assets makes this easy.
We are local, very local. If you live too far away, you'll be unlikely to participate, and are probably just wanting the Red Plate facility. Start your own club.
So there you have it. The how and why of forming your own club. It's not really rocket science, just take it step by step, and you'll do it. It costs bugger all, far less than your fees to an Owner's club, and you don't cop the grief.
If, after this, you still have some queries, email me, The Wolf, at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll help you out.
I don't know what the system is in other States, but a Google search will take you there, I'm sure.
THE AIM OF A FERAL DRIVING CLUB IS TO HAVE FUN, OTHERWISE THERE'S NO POINT.