A fire extinguisher is one of those must-have items in any car, whether it be classic or modern. Especially when it’s your own car that catches fire and there’s no sign of any help.
Recently, I witnessed someone's pride and joy catch fire, and I know this sounds strange, but I was impressed by what I saw.
My local car club was on a road trip with 20 other cars when smoke began pouring out of the back of an old blue Volkswagen Beetle. The car pulled over straight away and the driver jumped out with his fire extinguisher. Watching from further down the convoy, I witnessed every single VW owner stop and race towards the car also with fire extinguishers in hand.
While some stood back in horror, others were getting completely covered in powder trying to extinguish the flames. Thankfully the fire was put out quickly, with little to no damage. A loose fuel line was the culprit.
For the rest of the trip, I was wondering what the situation would’ve been like if it wasn’t for all those members – and their extinguishers – lending a quick helping hand.
Owning a car, especially a 'classic', isn’t just about working on it and then driving it. It’s the people keeping the passion of the brand, the car, alive. As an avid Volkswagen devote and owner, when I moved to Melbourne to join CarAdvice, I joined the Volkswagen Club of Victoria. Soon after, I became a committee member and to be honest, I wish I had done it sooner, because for the last 13 years, I was driving my classics thinking my car life couldn’t get any better. Oh, how wrong I was.
Before joining the club, I used to drive to car shows on my own and would then walk around admiring the other classics on display. I'd sit next to my car as if it was my partner for the day.
When I had a small problem with my Beetle, I would spend hours scrolling through countless online forums and YouTube videos searching for a solution, and most of the time not finding the answer. And there were a few times that I was broken down and stuck on the side of the road needing Dad to come rescue me. I just accepted it as part of car life.
But after joining a club, I soon realised there’s another car life that’s far more enjoyable.
Now, I am driving to car shows in a convoy of other enthusiasts, and stopping for coffee breaks along the way to talk about the latest accessory added to someone's car. When there’s an issue with my ‘Dub’, I now look to members with the know-how and experience who happily answer my questions in a heartbeat. And luckily, I haven’t broken down yet, but there’s always safety in numbers if it does happen, just like our friends in the blue Beetle.
But joining a car club is not just about having an endless stream of technical and mechanical know-how on tap. There are many other reasons that make it worthwhile. The social calendar is always full, with some fun events. Dress-up nights, mechanic workshops days, a nice dinner or a simple coffee meeting. Really, at its heart, it’s an excuse to get together to talk cars. And who would say no to that?
Most clubs also have a standout event that is organised by the club, and every member is asked to help out. Even though it might be hard work at the time, you reap the rewards at the end of the day when you see the number of cars in attendance, the happy faces of their owners and not to mention, the money raised for the club.
Some clubs are small, and some are big, but every club needs that money to survive. Those funds go into a lot of things, like the publication of a newsletter, hiring a location or for a social event. More often than not, money is donated to local charities too, which really makes you feel proud to be a part of something.
It’s always important to attend the monthly meetings, where you catch up on any future events. Even though clubs are more connected through social media now, it also gives you the chance to meet new people or to catch up with old friends.
And if you want to take it a step further and get really involved, join the committee, where you will be much closer to the action and can help the club move forward. You just never know how your expertise could help the club out.
So, if you’ve been thinking about joining a car club, I sincerely urge you to. You will make some lifelong friends and it will literally give you a new lease on your car life. And if your classic ever goes up in flames on an event, there will be dozens of people with fire extinguishers at the ready.