Houston Motor Club
Houston Motor Club
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Car Club History
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"When a man opens a car door for his wife, it's either a new car or a new wife."
- Prince Philip

Car Club History

Most car clubs today are modeled after the successful industry pioneer, Classic Car Club. Over a decade ago, with a concept much like real estate timeshare and residence club programs, the UK Company introduced the very first car share club to maximize the driving experience of classic sports cars. From humble beginnings in a warehouse in East London with a handful of cars, the Classic Car Club has grown to 4 branches in the UK with over 1000 members and more than 100 cars.

In 2000, another UK car club was founded as former race driver Damon Hill formed P1 International with very much the same concept, but a focus exclusively on supercars rather than classics. With two locations, both at maximum capacity, P1 is often viewed as the gold standard of car clubs in the UK.

Over the years, several other European car clubs and multiple branch locations have been launched, but until 2005 the only U.S. club was for those that lived in the San Francisco Bay area. Since then, several car sharing concepts have opened in the states, each determining what type of vehicles to maintain in their fleet with some concentrating on classics, others on exotics, and still others creating a mix of the two.

Currently, car clubs can be categorized into one of three types; membership clubs, fractional ownership clubs and rental clubs. The one constant in the US car club market is that all are growing in membership, adding vehicles to their fleet and making plans for expansion to other locations.

Membership Clubs
In a membership club, there is typically an initiation fee and an annual membership fee. Membership is exclusive, much like that of a country club. Almost all have adopted some type of point system, where in return for the yearly fee, members are allocated a certain number of points. These points are then traded for time in their choice of cars, which are carefully maintained and only made available to members. The cars are typically split into categories based upon cost and exclusivity. Most membership clubs have an experience that goes beyond just the cars and offer social events through a private clubhouse as well as many other exclusive VIP services.

Fractional Ownership Clubs
These companies provide a service similar in nature to fractional ownership on an airplane or to the timeshare of a condominium. Members typically select a particular vehicle to sign-up on and then have use of that vehicle for a pre-determined number of weeks (usually 4 or 8) and use of the vehicle is in weekly increments only, even when the car may only be wanted for a weekend. Some clubs allow you to “trade” weeks with other vehicle owners if the others are willing. A multi-year contractual commitment is normally required.

Rental Clubs
Rental Clubs can really be viewed as a “frequent renters clubs”, as the primary benefits to members are that they are able to rent vehicles from the club’s fleet without the hassle of filling out paperwork for each vehicle they wish to rent and they usually receive a discount compared to the price charged to the regular rental clientele. There is virtually no exclusivity and it can often be difficult to reserve the vehicle of choice. Rental clubs may charge a nominal fee to be a member, which entitles the member to discounts or they may use a system of prepaid points that can be redeemed for rentals.