Community, Cars, and Culture

Eric Bystrom, Basel Al orimi, Osiris-Jacob Hernandez Troche, Natalie Haynes, Wyatt Vandenhul

 

Abstract

Car clubs in Omaha are relatively new considering cars have only been produced for approximately 100 years. The first official club started in Omaha was in 1971 and many more have emerged as car culture expands and adapts with the times. considering cars have only been around for over 100 years. Each car club has a unique way for its members to show their cars. It’s a place where ever enthusiastic car people gather and show their car collections. This study is focused on the current sociological impact of car clubs in our culture in the city of Omaha. Information was collected on the car culture and five major club websites in Omaha were studied. Throughout the research is focused on five main themes that define car clubs: Marketing & Sponsors, Modifications, Meeting & events, Class & Status, And Car types.

Methodology:

Information was collected specific to Omaha by car clubs websites. The study shows different information from these sites on Marketing/Sponsors, Modifications, Meetings/Events, Status/Class, and Car types. This information was gathered to see how car clubs relate to each other and what types of things they do to bring in certain groups of people.

The study was comprised of primary and secondary sources from library databases and directly from the published websites of individual car clubs. In addition to the context in the websites; pictures, media, live events, and meetings were examined to uncover sociological context not explicitly publicized or expressed. All of the information collected was exclusive to the local Omaha Nebraska area.  

 

Marketing & Sponsors

Throughout all of the websites, the data shows two distinct categories. The car club culture differs substantially between age groups and therefore how the clubs operate are vastly different.

In one category, there is the older generation that focuses mainly on classic vehicles. They maintain a level of exclusivity in that the type of vehicle you own is your way into the club, keeping those who are not owners, out of the group. The marketing strategy of these groups take a very basic understanding of websites and mainly use flyers and word of mouth to distribute information to members. There is a complete lack of social media presence in these groups. This is possibly due to being unaware or unfamiliar to the power of these platforms. On the other hand, it may be a way to keep their group exclusive and not attract the general public. Some of the groups do have an inclusive perception; but by design, (and with no discrimination intended) attract a certain type of demographic.

            The second category pertains to the younger generation. The car culture centers heavily around social media and brand sponsorships for aftermarket modification. This type of group is not afraid of making their group public. Therefore, the turnout seems to be much greater. Not all of the cars are $50k + in value, but that is what separates the two categories. This group is truly inclusive because it is about a passion for cars that everyone can relate to regardless of the car they drive. What is interesting also is the commodification of car culture. Specifically, the 1320 Video website has built a brand around car culture that attracts many people, mainly younger people. The owner has been able to create a business around their love of car culture by producing videos and selling products under their brand or by an affiliate. Ultimately, their passion for car culture not only makes them a living, but offers value and entertainment to those that watch the videos in Omaha and all over the world. It adds another layer to the club that the older generation does not understand yet. The classic car clubs could attract much more attention through marketing and sponsorships, but that might not be where they are interested in taking the club.

            Diving into the marketing of classic car clubs suggests that, based on their website, a big part of the group’s purpose comes from public events. This is where the pride of ownership takes center stage. A “proper” display of affection versus burnouts in the parking lot to show off a freshly installed turbo. It attracts a crowd similar to the group themselves. This is primarily men living vicariously through the owners of these classic cars, It brings about a sense of manliness from a more patriarchal era where the epitome of cool was having a big block hot rod. Women generally follow along with their husbands as they partake in their hobby. Very few women are the owners of these vehicles.

            The best way young car club events can be described is basically being the antithesis of the older generation. Ethnically diverse, both men and women, many types of cars, trucks, and bikes. Some are about horsepower, others eclectic mods, electric motors, or many other types of expressions that are possible. Again, this is the main two differences between both groups and why their marketing and sponsorships attract who they do.

 

Modifications

According to the findings table, when it comes to modification in car clubs it is mostly unnecessary. It is a critical part of the car culture but many people in car clubs either don’t know how to modify their cars or do not have the finances to modify their cars or they just don’t want to. It is completely up to the individual and their car.  When it comes to a car club like coffee cruise Omaha, it would be more likely to see fewer modifications to cars because it is usually not a really big car show, it meets every week and people can come and go without needing their car to be modified because the club lets anyone with an appreciation of cars to see the cars that are shown off by other people. Chevy classics are all about restoring cars and modifying their cars to their specific classic taste since their cars are older they have to be restored it provides a window to have more modifications to their cars. Usually, those modifications are more subtle and classic look. Those who like classic cars should travel to Cuba. Cuba has a love for cars, it may even seem as though it is stuck in the 50s. The culture is completely different there because of the embargo that was established in 1959. The cars there are all modified to work and function for every day use some use boat engines and others use soviet transmissions but all are Frankenstein machines because the Cubans used what they needed to make their car run, after that they restored the body and made it look like it belonged back in the 50s.  Mav motors are geared more towards college students. Their cars are modified as much as their money allows. Many are probably not as modified as much as they want and still aspire to want more mods and to go faster. The 1320 website features heavily modified cars it’s not really a car club but it does have a very large following on social media. They post videos of drag races and very fast cars on their site to gain popularity. The ENWICC is actually the car council in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa so it is actually affiliated with most car cubs in the area so it is highly likely that there are all kinds of modifications in these affiliated clubs it’s probably a greater percentage of cars is modified in some way specific to the individual driving his or her car. A car’s identity was brought about by the process of modification as the project progressed it eventually emerged with the owner inscribed into the car their hard work to make it theirs and their unique car alone.

Car culture centralizes itself in the modification of the car to be an extension of one’s personality. The pursuit to have more power and speed may not be necessary for that but it most certainly can be. The appreciation of cars and having young men working and spending their money on something that they create and have pride in is much better than spending money on drugs and alcohol. The best part of young people in the car culture is that it is a generally positive environment. Understanding why boys do what they do is difficult without understanding masculinity. it is agreed that the car is seen as a symbol of masculinity.  The car culture is dominated by male individuals. Some believe that the boy racer type emerged because of how the car makes the individual feel behind the wheel which is a way to escape parental control, realizing personal freedom, and to some who bought their first car on their own as a personal right of passage into manhood.

Hooning is the act of an individual usually a young male between the ages of 18-25 driving recklessly doing burnouts and such on public roads. That intern creates a negative image on car culture and on modifying cars. The police focus on that when detaining individuals. If the police see that a car is indeed modified they see it as hooning. This causes problems for the average car enthusiast, not every car enthusiast goes around doing burnouts and street races. In the same case, not every hoon modifies their cars. The main point to hoon around is to display mastery, skill, and technique. Guys might do this to show off to people or to girls around. Usually, they do this to feel an adrenaline rush to have fun and feel exhilarated. Hooning to some is just a byproduct of car culture

Meetings and Events.

It has been found that any  car club or organization will more than likely have both of these themes. When you join a club or organization you need to be caught up and prepared for whatever you’re going to have to do as being a member.

Car organizations will choose a place to get together and discuss different things like how they are going to fulfil their mission statement, or they may discuss the upcoming car shows that they are having. Or they may discuss how to get more people involved, or how to better their organization. Car organizations like to meet once every month. The dates are usually set in advanced and where the meeting is held is in the same spot. The clubs like to meet at a place to eat so they can eat and discuss the plans of the organization. They really like to get new people involved. Also most car clubs and organizations like to hold their own shows, and some even multiple shows.

These shows bring in all kinds of people with all sorts of different vehicles. The money that is used to register one’s vehicle, will a lot of times go to the club for different things that may need. Or unless specified they may be holding a car show for a certain something or someone. Almost like a benefit for whatever it is they are trying to raise money or awareness for. They all have the same reasonings for having meetings and events. You see most have some kind of mission and getting new people as well as holding meetings and events like car shows really carries on their missions. And it really boils down to just keeping their legacy and tradition alive, for years to come. Many automobile clubs want to generate a positive public attitude to motor vehicles.  The activities in the clubs are geared toward promoting its members’ practical and recreational interests: supplying technical information about vehicles, organising sports competitions as well as promoting sociability between people with the same interests. The point of many clubs is to educate and publicise.

Data shows they try to appeal cars to both genders. This also goes for car clubs they involve both men and women. They actually really encourage it. People join not only for personal enjoyment but also to strengthen family ties and to form community with other classic muscle car owners. Car clubs kind of enhance that thought. They basically take down the old ideology that muscle cars are masculin machines, and sort of take down gender inequality. Before women were not really able to be apart of car culture and clubs but now they are really encouraged to become apart of it. The passion that people feel for cars is genuine; each express great appreciation of the classic muscle car for its power, speed, and significant rumble. The participation in car clubs in their events and meetings is a way to share a love for cars with all classic car lovers, and keep it alive.

Status and Class

The data from the different websites about the car club culture in the area of Omaha and the surrounding areas, was found to be the majority of people who are in these clubs are men. Specifically, men in the middle-class status. The age differs from website to another depending on the goals of that clubs. Some clubs such as 1320 videos and Mav Motors have the younger generation involved in the club activities, but the other clubs are more focused in the big picture and have more variety of age and class. Although, Mav Motors is more about UNO students displaying their cars and most of the students in UNO are either middle class and low class. All of these car clubs have one thing in common that all of them are involved with the middle-class kind of people.

 

Car Types

        There is a club for any type of car. Some clubs allow all makes and brands of cars to join them while other clubs are more specific on what type of cars are allowed to go to their meets and events. Clubs can be based around a specific car, something they enjoy doing with their car or it could just be a group of people that enjoy getting together with others and talking about each other’s cars.

        Many of the clubs’ names state the specific type car of car they want in their club. Others state what they do at their club. An example of each is the Mustang Car Club in Omaha that as the name states only allows people with Mustangs to join in at their meets and events. One that has a name that states what they do is 1320 video, 1320 stands for how many feet are in a quarter mile so that being said one could understand that 1320 video is a club for people that drag race or have modified cars.

        Coffee Cruise is a club that doesn’t have a specific car type for their club. Coffee Cruise is a club that allows anyone with a care or a motorcycle to join them every week. They do have clubs that meet with them that require members to have certain cars, a few of these are Nebraskaland Thunderbird Club, Heartland Chevelle Club and Midwest Camaro Club.

        It is not a bad thing that some cars aren’t allowed into certain clubs because the people in those clubs want to have others to relate to and know what they mean when they are talking about latest news of their car or just their car in general. There is a club for anyone with a car or motorcycle and although they might not have a specific club for them no one seems to be impacted by that.

 

Sociological Analysis:

The sociological impact of these car clubs are tremendously important to look at from the sociological point of view. From the data collected during the research for scholarly articles there were some connections to the websites that were used.

In the research for marketing and sponsors the study found that some literature mentioned that some car clubs uses magazines to help spread the automobilism. though in the study shows that the marketing used in car clubs in the area of Omaha uses website and posters to market and sponsor the clubs.

There is a connection with women and cars from the scholarly journals and modern day car clubs. The articles Gendering Mobility: Women, Work and Automobility in the United States and Women with Muscle talk about how women become more apart of the classic car culture, like owning and driving their own as well as joining along with a significant other to car shows. Today’s car clubs are inviting to women and almost encourage it. You see more and more women getting into cars and joining clubs. Women are pushing the boundaries of the “normal” stereotypes. Women are gradually enjoying getting their hands dirty. In the past women have been used to help display the car in a certain light, completely objectifying them as sexual objects.

The data from the scholarly journals show a huge relationship between modification and hooning with the websites of today’s car clubs. Through the article of Young people,dangerous driving,and car culture it was discovered that people with modifications on their cars were getting pulled over more frequently because of the actions of young reckless kids with modifications on their cars. Therefore that idea of reckless driving was associated with modifications.

One of the things that the study found that no scholarly articles have mentioned is the class and status of who is on these car clubs. The study has found that most people in these clubs are from the middle class. People who car afford to buy and show their own cars.

Another topic not explored by the scholarly articles involve social media. The older generation tends to ignore most platforms and underestimates the influencing capabilities possible by using social media. The younger generation is well versed, and by using various platforms have elevated a certain type of car culture into the popular culture. This has left the older generation’s passion in the dark and their culture is not growing as rapidly as the younger generation’s. Therefore, the younger generation and social media is changing what car culture is about. Just as we now desire the latest and greatest phone, fashion, etc., cars are also affected from this disposable mindset of “What’s next?”

Conclusion:

The study focused on five main themes which are marketing & sponsors, modifications, meetings and events, class and status, and car types. These themes explains the car clubs, which the study was discussed five different clubs, and how it impacted our societies.

As other researchers look farther into car culture. It would be helpful to understand the impacts of social media and how it has shaped current car culture. Social media is a relatively new network that greatly enhances our sharing and influencing abilities. The databases used for this research paper did not come up with any studies related exclusively to this topic, and it would be fascinating to read a sociological analysis on this to bring our understanding to the present moment.

 

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Cars Pictures