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ol' yeller

How Can The BCA Survive?

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When a local Mopar club was formed, it was sponsored by a local Dodge dealership with an enterprising and market-saavy parts manager. As an original and continuing member from back then, it was really "ground-breaking" for a dealer operative to start something as that--for a "Mopar" of all things, yet similar clubs had existed for Fords and Chevy's for ages.

Upon membership dues being paid, the first-time member got a Mopar hat and t-shirt from the dealership. This is one reason the initial membership was $25.00/year rather than the $15.00/year renewal. TRY to find a Buick hat or t-shirt locally! In later years, if an existing member wanted a new hat and t-shirt, they were allowed to pay the higher renewal rate. Membership also meant wholesale parts pricing on parts from the parts department and later the possibility of "fleet pricing" on new vehicles (which I negotiated for).

Perhaps the BCA might consider giving new members a "BUICK" hat with the BCA logo on it, rather than just "BCA". Having both names on it would tie the two together in the minds of the public--a public that increasingly knows that a Buick club might not exist. Vendors for car t-shirts don't always have Buick shirts, but a few do--it would be nice to see a more generic Buick shirt that is not specific to muscle cars, turbo cars, or fat-fender Buicks. Sometimes, GM has some t-shirts with the current advertising on them, but those are not that plentiful (or known-available).

There are several perceptions of the BCA and the Buicks, in general, that many propogate and possibly don't fully understand (as they do that--repeating what others have said).

I've heard the BCA termed to only be interested in "antique Buicks". Hence, although the "antique" definition is for "25 years and older", that leaves out the newer Buicks of the time--right up front. It does not matter that "antique" is a rolling window of sorts, now including vehicles which many used to call "used cars". For example, in the waning days of '70s-era muscle cars, there were some very nice Buicks built with 455 motors--which were "instant collectibles" as they rolled of the assembly lines due to their very limited numbers in a time when fuel efficiency was more important than horsepower.

When I first really looked at a Buick Apollo, I was amazed at how nice it was in comparison to the Chevy Nova it began life as. Add some of the Nova's chassis upgrades (sway bars, especially) and you'd have a really luxurious smaller car with a Buick 350 V-8 engine upgrade. Where are those cars now, even the 4-door sedans? That would be a neat car to have now!

It seems to be somewhat invisible to the BCA, but there are many younger people that drive Buicks . . . and like them. Check out the RegalGS.org website, for example. A whole different breed of Buick enthusiast, by observation. Many would consider the cars they drive to be "invisible" and "not of collectible value" . . . just as the Buick Apollos tend to be. How the BCA might reach that group can be more difficult than reaching a Buick enthusiast who likes '55 Buicks (for example). To see the Forums, you'll have to register for the website--there is LOTS to see in there. There is lots of information sharing in there, just as we used to do it "analog" back when--it's STILL about "the network" that can be patched into.

By association, "antique" also generally indicates the age of the owners generally associated with those vehicles. We know that is not always the case, but that dang "public perception" strikes again.

When the BCA was younger, the powers that be put "The 12 Year Rule" in place. Some 40+ years ago, it might have made sense to do that. It might have tended to ensure that a new Buick would not show against an older Buick, in the car show events--with the perception that a new car will always win over an older one, which is NOT always the case. Over the years past 1960, consider how many new Buick platforms came to market. That would include the Skylark performance cars, the new Riviera, and the Reatta. Each group is of a demographic that CAN overlap with the BCA membership, but try to show one of those new and exciting Buicks at a BCA National Meet, back then . . . "not old enough". Therefore, from what I suspect, the possible BCA members went out and did their own things . . . and still are. Only until the BCA devised the "division" orientation might some of these groups come under the BCA umbrella. Some of the more vintage members in here have heard me say that before, but no body has really tried to address doing damage control to make the BCA the all-encompassing Buick club many desire it to be. Hard to be "all encompassing" when particular Buicks are openly and continually discriminated against due to the model year of the newer Buick they might be very proud of! I feel that ONLY when the BCA fully becomes "all encompassing" of ALL BUICKS, regardless of model year of Buicks which can be shown and judged at BCA National Meets, can all of the dialogue of "getting younger members" really become operational.

Many might desire to lay the BCA's lack of younger members at the feet of Buick and GM. Just because we might have grown up in a world filled with hardtops, convertibles, and station wagons does not always mean that younger people (who grew up in a world full of 4-door sedans and minivans) might want one. Therefore, we should not expect them to like what WE like, showing them WHY we like Buicks and what made Buicks better vehicle choices. Young families take just as much pride of showing their late-model Mazda 4-door sedan at a NOPI show was we would showing a '55 Century Convertible at one of our shows--I saw that on SPEED Channel several years ago. In our more downsized world, getting into the back seat of a 2-door car is not much different than trying to get into the back seat of a '70s Camaro, so 4-doors make more sense unless it's a sports car.

I do feel that when many younger people might take the time to put their DOHC orientations in "Park" and understand that it's torque that moves things rather than multiple camshafts, they can see how cars used to be really spiffy in a time when a cupholder was on the inside of the glove compartment door . . . when interiors were multi-colored rather than multi-hued . . . when "reverb" and "FM multiplex" made the radios sound really good . . . when cloth interiors were really classy.

I've seen some posts by 20-something new older vehicle owners. They praise the size and comfort and styling, but also brag about how much gas it takes to run it (think "lower is better"). In some respects, even a 1985 LeSabre is too big for many daily drivers to use--regardless of the fuel economy it might get on the highway (where it seems that many of these owners do not drive anymore). So, it can be a double-edged sword for future generations to associate "old car" with "gas guzzler" in a $4.00/gallon world. Unfotunately, many might not have sufficient income to keep the car going as they try to use it as a "cheap" alternative to a newer car as an only car, rather than as a second car as a hobby.

I tend to concur that rather than target 20-somethings, the BCA might have better luck targeting 40-somethings who might soon have "empty nests", more disposable income, and time to devote to an older vehicle's restoration. Or 30-somethings that are starting to pass on their automotive knowledge and love to their offspring. A few years ago, I asked a local AACA member (and also one of our chapter members), given the stated success of the AACA's younger member program, how many younger members typically turned up at their meetings and tours. He replied that usually, they came with their grandparents.

I feel that the BCA's current financial issues will fix themselves somewhat when the economy recovers more, but this might take a year or so. Membership numbers are not the only issue as advertising revenues have to rebound, too. Advertising can be a double-edge situation, too, as decisions must be made as to how much "content" and how much "advertising" there is in a publication which is limited in the number of pages it can be. Advertising revenue that can buy-down the cost of the magazine for the membership.

In the BCA, we have many generations of members who grew up on many different and diverse times . . . and the orientations which each birth generation had during when they were growing up. This same diversity of current Buick owners also can make it hard for Buick to successfully market new products!

I know, from prior discussions in here of electronic media for The Roster or THE BUGLE that many are of the younger generation and are more electronic-media-oriented. Yet we still have many who are not "computer-friendly" in our midst that we do NOT desire to alienate. I believe that The Roster could be best served with purely electronic delivery (with appropriate password protections!), yet with a large number of members who would have to find somebody with a knowledge of downloading and printing particular sections, it's worthless to them in totally electronic media. Many still carry the hard copy version with them when they travel . . . not quite the same thing as carrying several sheets of paper printed out for them. Not the same level of "security blanket", so to speak.

There can be a compelling discussion to offer THE BUGLE in electronic media for overseas members, but if that choice leads to fewer magazines being printed and that equates to a greater cost/issue, has the greater good of cost efficiency really been served? I have no doubt that a few BCA Board Members might be rooting for electronic delivery, though, without fully considering all of the side issues or dynamics of the situation--just my gut suspicion.

End result . . . from my own experiences with a computer magazine that recently went "digital" . . . if I don't get the magazine in my hand each month, I forget about it. When I forget about it, that subscription is worthless . . . without regard to the great information that might be in the publication, which I might benefit from in the future. If I'm doing research on an electronic item, I can go into their website and find articles to read, but even those are archived for a certain period of time.

When many people who talk about Buicks as "grandparents' car", that automatically, to them, means "not interesting" or "dull" or "slow". In many respects, with more modern Buicks, some of that can apply. Styling is good, but nothing that really stands out . . . until the last couple of years.

Many younger people might not fully understand why Buick was often called a "doctor's car". When that term was appliled to Buicks, doctors made HOUSE CALLS. This could have meant the traversing of rough country roads into many less-inhabited rural areas. Sometimes, they had to transport the patient to a medical facility in town. Think . . . riding comfort, interior size, mechanical reliability, and economy of operation. As medical doctors were considered professional people, them having a "cheap" car would have meant they were not successful and somebody you didn't want trying to fix your failing body.

Many people have NOT considering are some of the dynamics of owning newer Buicks. It has to also be considered that as most of the "grandparent-age" people can be on fixed incomes, having a reliable vehicle that also gets 28+mpg on the highway is important. Just as the 3.8L V-6 takes <5 qts of oil with an oil and oil filter change rather than 6-7 quarts as many of the higher-tech OHC motors do. Many used 15" and 16" wheels and tires, with tires that are readily available and REASONABLY priced. So, some of THE SAME THINGS which make these Buicks attractive to the "fixed income generation" can ALSO make them compelling vehicle choices for younger people of limited financial means! Still, the "grandma's car" perception continues . . . Funny, the same perception doesn't keep people from purchasing Toyota Camrys!

By the same token, how many bucket seat (which was originally the standard seating arrangement!!) Buick Lucernes have you seen? It makes are really spiffy car! Unfortunately, it might not appeal to a generation which considers a "stick shift" car a "cheap car", when column shifters were the upscale orientation, or that it was safer to open the curb-side door, enter the front seat area, and slide across the front seat rather than enter from the driver's side and have to open the car door with city traffic coming at you.

Personally, I look for the newer Buicks now coming online to be much more attractive to many groups of younger buyers. Brian is an example of that.

When Buick had a massive display at the Dallas New Car Show several years ago, when the LaCross concept car was introduced (the modern adaptation of '49 Roadmaster styling!), there were people watching the presentation of voice-activated vehicles of ALL ages . . . young to old. When the Enclave was first shown a few years ago, many younger families were excitedly looking at it. The new 2010 LaCrosse will keep that momentum going, as will an energetic group of "New" GM managers--or should I say a group of "newly-empowered" GM managers (most of which had been there all along).

"Fixing the BCA" might not be as simple as a single answer or change, which many might desire it to be. It's going to take a while, too, unfortunately.

Just as with "New" GM revitalizing their product lines, it behooves them to not alienate existing customers as they try to appeal and market to younger generations. Orchestrating the demise of product lines via product decisions, ala "No bench seats or column shifters for the new Aurora", can't happen--period. Similarly, it should behoove the BCA Board of Directors to not alienate or "leave behind" ANY past and current BCA member as they try to regain desired profitability via membership level increases. A "left behind" former BCA member is worse than a mad customer as I suspect their "come-back" rate is very near "0".

The BEST marketing tool the BCA has is THE BUGLE. Not putting it in some sort of wrapper might not affect the internal content, but it not being protected is detrimental to the possibility that it might be passed on to other potential members.

Remember the days when we used to say "If they'd only spent an extra nickel on that part, it wouldn't be broke now" about car parts? At the consumer's level, that broke part is now costing them money to fix, yet saved the manufacturer millions of dollars (due to the volume of nickels they saved). Enough nickels to pay for dealership warranty labor rates to fix it, too! I know that all business entities must find ways to pay their bills, but they must also NOT forget how what they do can ultimately affect customer satisfaction and retention, much less giving potential future customers a compelling reason to become a customer.

Regards,

NTX5467

Edited by NTX5467
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A few more suggestions. Our local chapter involves the membership often. In February we have a chili cookoff that has grown into a potluck recipe exchange. The guys like it as we get to feed our faces. Spouses like getting new recipes. (does that sound sexist? sorry! I have to admit that I've picked up a recipe or 2). In September we have a Fall leaf tour. November we have an auction of extra stuff we have in our garages, with the proceeds going to the chapter treasury. We meet every month for dinner and chat. We have partnered with other clubs (Pontiac, Ford V8 Etc.) on tours and Poker Runs. While bringing your Buick to the events is encouraged, during winter many bring their daily drivers. All are welcomed. We did have a group called the ROF. ROF stood for Retired Old F..... Fellas yeah that's it, Fella's. They went on driving tours during the day while all the working stiffs were at work. I gotta work on reviving that one. The point is that when the membership is involved, they contribute. Someone said earlier that you need to contribute to your organization, not look for what it can do for you. That is true but you do need to set the hook and show them what a healthy organization can do for them. We are pretty lucky here in the Northwest as all of our local chapters have a great group of folks who understand what it takes to make this thing work and how we all benefit when the organization prospers.

Secondly it was mentioned that there are free ads in the Bugle to members. That is a nice perk for members but in view of our finacial situation, maybe we should charge for the ads or some of the ads. Maybe we should charge for Car For Sale ads. That way those who are getting benefit are those who are paying. after all, you have a pretty targeted audience for your ad.

Our local has a newsletter exchage with all the other chapters up and down the west coast. I take pride in the quality of our newsletter and the Leads and Needs section should be of interest to all Buick lovers. We offer everyone a free ad in our local newsletter to anyone (Buick Related) at all of the local swap meets over the winter. We operate a booth at all the big local meets. I think this is probably why our local membership has grown. Every year, we raffle off a lighted neon sign, Buick Ford or Chevy. The raffle tickets cover the cost of the sign, and then some, and we give prospective members a reason to stop and talk to us.

Having a 2 or 3 tiered membership with the cost based upon how much of the resources each member uses also has merit. I'd consider getting the Bugle online if it would save the organization a few bucks. The suggestion of the local sponsoring the National dues for a short period of time for new members is a great suggestion. I'm gonna bring that up at the next meeting.

Finally we have to keep our stupid opinions and prejudices to ourselves when it comes to new members. I know there are times when I look at some cars and think to myself, "Why would anyone fix up one of those?" or "Did they paint that car with a vacuum cleaner exhaust." These types of thoughts are best left in my head rather than spoken. I know there are some who wonder why I spend even one dollar on restoring my 1965 Skylark 4 door. I loved it when I brought my multi colored, rusted, beat-up 1965 Skylark to our local show one year and won Most Ambitous Project. I was also very proud the next year to win Most Improved and First in class. Criticism inspires no one but encouragement sends hope. At the next Buick car show, look at all the Buicks and try to find something nice to say about every car. I still remember how when I first got my '65 Skylark. I was driving it proudly down mainstreet with my then 17 year old daughter at my side. She saw the smile of pride on my face and said, "Dad, you really don't know how bad your car looks, do you?" I took that as a teachable moment and said to her, "You really don't know how this car looks in my mind either." Please keep this in mind when you are around members or potential members and feel the need to comment on their car.

Greg

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This has been a great response to the question and I am glad someone ask.

Your input and understanding of the BCA operations help others realise that satifying 9000

BCA members is tricky. Some think things should be done their way........ regardless of the facts or what others think.

I also believe the BCA will survive...... it could continue to grow or may settle into a smaller number of dedicated Buick owners. Either way, we still have our Buicks.

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The definition of middle age is anyone 5 years older than yourself.

Many good constructive ideas and thoughts here.

The government just took 700,000 future classic cars off the market, which resulted in less recycled parts available to people who are typically lower income.

I'm preachin' to the choir, but we all know the story of keeping old cars renewed.

If you haven't contacted your politicians it is now time to get in their face. I have contacted mine regularly.

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Well, I posted this in private mesages, but maybe this place could be right for a few thoughts....

<hr>#1

Here are a few ideas about the Bugle and the falling amount of members of the BCA. I don’t know it exactly, but I can image that the average age of the BCA member is above 45 or even 50. But also imagine this: The generation that will be 50 in 20 years grew up with computers and the internet. So some things have to change in the future. I’m not a member of the BCA and – I’m from Germany – not of the BCG (Buick Club of Germany). Why not? Maybe my view is too rational, but what is the big reason to be a member? The BCG doesn’t have a forum and even though Germany is not that huge, all meetings are too far away from me. The member fee for the BCA is cheap – in comparison to the one of the BCG. There must be something attractive to become a member!

I read the letter in the June 2009 Bugle issue, where the rhetoric question was: “You spend 40 USD for that chrome part without asking, but can’t afford 40 USD for a full year membership??” Again, let me write it without emotions: The chrome part is something I enjoy every day, it makes my Buick better and might increase its value. To get to the point: Most people won’t die without the BCA and the Bugle. I’m working in the PR business and writing lots of articles for the financial business. My colleague I share the room with is in our marketing department, so I learn a lot about marketing. Marketing or PR, there are some rules you always have in mind: What does our product have that others lack, what is our USP (unique selling proposition), why do all people need what we sell?

The June Bugle is great. Very helpful content, every useful seller is there: Kanter, Bobs, Wheatbelt, etc. If you read the Bugle you realize that the Bugle is the #1 source to get important information about restoring Buicks and to meet people that might be in the same situation. I’d use this USP more often! => “If you restore a Buick, you NEED to have a membership in the BCA. It not only saves time – you get in touch with great people and lots of restoring knowledge.”

Back to the internet thing. The ePaper version is standard in German media, every big magazine has a pageflip version. Our experience is, the more you go online, the higher is the danger to lose readers. The result will be a decreasing amount of printed versions – but most of the companies that book ads pay less with less printed versions. That’s why we develop new media packets. Book an ad in the printed version, get one internet ad for free. I don’t know how the ads are managed at the Bugle, but it sounds like it is not financed and every issue costs not about 0 USD. There are only a few full page ads. The second best place for an ad is not used in the Bugle (in June), the back! If someone lays it on the cover back after reading, you only see car meeting photos. Many companies want this space and pay top money for that. Offer them a package for a full year – that enables one to develop a plan for the whole year.

Buglejune09.jpg

Some more things I see: The cover is full of different font sizes and font style. Its almost a nightmare! The only color that is missing is green. There are (including the Bugle “logo”) nine(!) different font sizes. Some words are bold, some italic, some start big, some small, one word is underlined, the others not, in some words all letters are big,… very hard for the eye. The Bugle needs a styleguide (not only cover, all pages, the layout is not very favourable)! Although the Bugle is a magazine of special interest, it competes with other car magazines and the style is one big point of winning potential readers, especially new ones. Compare the cover of the Bugle with the ad of Buick on the second page : There is only one font, only two different colors (that are similar), two different font styles and (not counting the copyright) only two different font sizes => a very harmonic creation. Another thing: The presidents message, in my opinion the welcome of the issue, is after the table of content. Why? In all magazines I know it’s the other way round. Before I read in detail whats in it, I’d like to be welcomed in the magazine and whats be big deal with this special issue.

Speaking of big things: To have a strong brand you need to have the same logo in all publications. The BCA logo is black and white on page three. To make it more recognizable, I’d suggest using the normal red/blue/white one. Same with the Bugle logo: I don’t know who’s creation it is, but its not very harmonic. If you don’t have a graphical logo and only a script as logo, it should make a great impression. Sorry to say this, but it looks someone wanted something real big but wasn’t able to. BMW has the same logo since decades!

It has been modernized from time to time, but you can always recognize a BMW. The BCA logo is great, but the Bugle hasn’t got one, yet. I suggest creating a new one that lasts until forever, but can be modernized easily without losing the unique styling.

The unique styling should match the one of your website. Make it recognizable. If someone has read only one Bugle he/she got from a friend and browses to the website, he/she should recognize in a second that he/she is on the right website. The style of the website varies, but this is another story…

A phrase says “You can restore a car a thousand times, but its only original once.” What does this tell us? There will always be people restoring Buicks – it is timeless. There will always be potential BCA members. If you have an online published Bugle that can’t be downloaded, all users need to come back – more traffic for the BCA. Use a powerful page flip software like Issuu(.com), it has some statistical features for publishers, too.

Make it easy to find and get in contact with the BCA. Create shortcuts like www.buickclub.org/join. Its easy to remember and you can advertise with it easily. Install an online archive like www.buickclub.org/bugle. Most guys in the BCA are members since months, years or even decades. They know the correct address for the office. But new members or interested people don’t! Make it easy for them and use addresses you would intentionally think of. info@buickclub.org, office@buickclub.org and bugle@buickclub.org would help. At most providers, the email addresses cost nothing.

The BCA forum is great. Why not use it in the printed version? Make a regular story of it like “best/most forum thread of the past month”. For the younger generation a category for websites could be nice. Start series which cover more than two issues. On page five its stated whats coming in the future issues. Pete Philips is not sure, if the content of the September issue is of big interest => use the forum, make a poll and ask what people would like to read. Make an outlook of the upcoming issue at the end of the actual printed Bugle, so that people are really looking forward to it. Put a reference next to it, how people can become a member of the BCA.

Collect as much email addresses as possible. Send a newsletter each month to announce the new Bugle, tell the people which great magazine with great stories is coming. Send this newsletter to all BCA members – and especially to those people that didn’t renew their membership. Tell them what they miss! Keep in touch with them.

Write an email to each new member after joining. Give them a warm welcome. Tell them they made a great choice and again the advantages of the BCA. Post the link to the forum. Make special offers. I can imagine a situation at the national meet: One month for free, if they join right now for a year. Two months for free, if you join us for two years and three months for free, if you join us for three years. I’m from Germany and I don’t necessarily need a printed version. But I won’t become a member if the prices are so much higher for foreign members. If I get the Bugle only as PDF, there are no shipping costs. But why does an American pay 110 USD for three years and I 254 USD? For the same PDF that costs nothing? I asked the BCA office for a special offer, but never got a reply. Its not that I don’t have the money, but I won’t pay the double price for the same thing as others – its simply unfair.

If you want to spread the Buick news, print some issues more and ask your local GM/Buick dealer, if you can put 10 Bugles to the showroom brochures. Maybe the visitor/buyer is a GM/Buick guy that loves the brand or even has other Buicks. Costs: Besides the printing costs, not a single USD! The dealer will probably appreciate your help, because they want every car buyer to come back in a few years to buy the next Buick!

Maybe GM/Buick can help. I saw on TV that the value of GM at the Wallstreet is as low as it was in the 50s. Grab a phone and ring the marketing division of GM/Buick. Tell them, yes, their stock are low, but they had the #3 position in beginning of the 50s and great cars. The stocks might be worth the same – but the cars are of the same greatness. Maybe they can use this argument for selling new cars.

<hr>#2

Maybe its possible to match the design of the Bugle to make the BCA design recognizable.

Here is a little test:

BUICK CLUB OF AMERICA

I put a new feature on it - I've 'stolen' the idea from the BHA website. If you lose members and budget descreases, start a sponsoring system. Member cars of members who donate 50 USD can chose to put their car (last decision by the webmaster and Bugle editor) on the front page. Make a slideshow of 25 cars. => 25 x 50 USD = 1.250 USD. Restart it every year to increase income...

<hr>#3

you could also put a commercial on the start page (BUICK CLUB OF AMERICA) OR (I'd love to see that!) you make a movie for the BCA at the next Buick National. Imagine this: The president of the BCA welcomes the viewer and goes through the lines of cars, all decades are shown, some awesome cars. He meets some persons that say "hey Bill, nice to meet you here!" and shake his hand. A meeting of good old friends, who took their Buicks with them. Maybe at the middle he stops at a nice car and tells the history of the BCA, why, how and what the BCA is. Afterwards he wents to an actual model (maybe the 2010 LaCrosse) and points out the way to the future (this part could be the reason why Buick could sponsor the video...). He shows how to become a member of this great club for Buick enthusiasts and tells everyone how much he'd love to meet the viewer of this film as a BCA member next year and meanwhile on the forum.

Making this movie wouldn't cost a lot. I'm creating a video plattform (like Youtube) for our company and we have a prosumer cam, a Canon XHA1, which costs about 3,500 USD. But: Before we make the decision for this cam, we tried some cameras and borrowed them for a day. The Canon XHA1 or Sony FX1 cost (in Germany) about 150 USD a day. I'd borrow it for two days, spend 300 USD and have an official club video that attracts new members and shows all existing member why they joined the BCA.

Speaking of joining the BCA: The website www.buickclub.org/join is nice, I really love the feature to become a member online without any delays. Some things could be improved there, too: It is an extra website, which means that one has to leave the main website to go to subpages. A great layout/structure would put every single subpage into one big website. The user won't have to click on the logo to go back to the main website - which is now not possible, because the link on the BCA logo is not working!

Today, all users would like to get to the sites they want without looking them up. The hint "(Additional decals can be purchased from the San Gabriel Valley Chapter.)" is nice, but there could be a link. I didn't know where the San Gabriel Valley was so I went to the main website (manually by typing the URL into the browser, because the link isn't working), went to the capters finder and had to look for it. Links would be very helpful!

Why are the local chapters taking their own fees? I've found the the San Gabriel Valley chapter and read (http://www24.brinkster.com/sp802/bca/clubinfo.htm) they'd take 10 USD for a membership. But administrating this fee and organizing things would take about 2-3 USD per member. The funny part, in the membership form they speak of 15 USD (http://www24.brinkster.com/sp802/bca/membapp.htm), what is correct? I'd suggest to increase the membership fee of the BCA to 60 USD (1yr, US 2nd) and transfer the money to the chapters according to the amount of members. In this way, every member belongs to a local chapter automatically and gets involved to their activities.

Maybe the US is very different to Germany, but maybe the German magazine subscription "system" could be working for you, too. In my understanding, the member of the BCA has to renew the membership after a period of time. In Germany, the subsription of all magazines and other things lasts until forever - until you quit it by writing a letter. If the BCA would do it this way, every existing member is "renewed" automatically.

Again, I would say, even 60 USD per year is cheap. All members get the Bugle. Compare it with other magazines like Hot Rod or Motor Trend. Yes, they cost less a year - but they provide stuff of all auto makes. The Bugle is the #1 source for Buick info. No other magazine in the world has more Buick to offer! Perhaps a poster in every issue would make it more collectable (it already is a big collectable item, yet). Here is a draw:

Looks nice and advertises for the BCA. It costs a few thousands of dollars, yes. But if you calculate it to every member, it costs less than 50c, I guess. Anyway... how many members does the BCA have? I haven't read the amount anywhere!? Everyone wants to be part of a BIG Buick society. Also an argument to advertise with...

1957_poster_small.jpg

<hr>

To come to and end, I apologize for my bad English and hope no one will be offended by these thoughts!

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El_Diablo,

IMHO, I'm truely impressed with what you've written. Certainly alot of thought has gone into what you've suggested and I hope a number of them become a reality. In fact, everyone's comments/suggestions have fantastic merit.

By the way, when was the last time the National BCA website was updated??...for the Minuteman chapter, the director currently listed was TWO directors ago!!

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The information on chapter directors and such is sketchy - if you talk to Mike and Nancy at the National Office, the sad reality is that some chapters don't report that information. How can anyone update it if they don't know? That being said, I can't say what happened in this specific case, but it does boil down to communication. There was some surprising information at the meeting in Colorado Springs about how hard it is to get some basic information from some of the chapters.

A Bugle centerfold is a neat idea.

When it comes to web design for the BCA, not to mention the chapters and divisions, it is difficult to get consistency because it is done by volunteers. It would be nice if we could perhaps spring for some graphic design to create templates that everyone would then be asked to use. It could create some of that unity ElDiablo is referring to. I signed up to do the Pre-War Division web site 3 years ago...unfortunately, I haven't done a good job of keeping up...other priorities in life keep getting in my way. If there was a template to use, then I could have saved some time at least in the initial setup and perhaps gotten some content in place.

I guess that is something else that kind of crops up. Everyone wants certain things...a bigger Bugle, more colour pages in the Bugle, more technical advisors (ideally to cover every year / model / drivetrain), changes to web interface, etc. These things take either money (which we don't have to throw around) or additional volunteer time. We could potentially have the latter, but how do you get someone to step forward. I know I don't feel comfortable enough in my knowledge of a particular subject to be a technical advisor, nor do I feel confident I could devote time to responding to member requests.

I was just looking at the tech advisor page. Since we have those e-mail addresses posted, do the tech advisors get queries from non-members? If they do, how do they handle them?

I know Bruce Andren (tech advisor for 61-63 Special / Skylark) was helping me out before I was a BCA member, but he was also the one who suggested I should join and attend the 2003 National Meet. I'm guessing that is a fine line to walk between trying to be a resource to BCA members while not turning away prospective members should they choose not to help out non-members.

Here I go again, typing too much....

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Just a side note on the Chapter Director List, Mike, Nancy, Pete, Roberta and I have been working to update it. Keep in mind the changes take longer to get into print than online. We've already corrected a few and am slowly working through all the chapters to make sure the info is right between the web, Bugle and reality.

We'll check into the Minuteman and make sure John Henry's info is correct in all locations.

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Many good responses in here!

Some of the comments I made in an earlier post about how smaller Buicks are looked down upon by some members may have been misunderstood.

ANY car club is about one thing--PRIDE OF OWNERSHIP.

Today, there are forums, clubs and shows for many car makes and models that BCA members would probably look down on. From the Chevy HHR to the Toyota Prius, there are clubs or Web sites for owners that focus on building relationships centered on their cars and how they are enjoying owning and using them. NOT old cars, NOT restored cars, NOT pure cars, NOT exclusive cars. Just pride and enjoyment from owning, driving, and sometimes modifying or customizing cars. They share information about common problems and solutions, friendly dealers and parts sources, and how they are enjoying their cars.

We as BCA members need to encourage ALL Buick owners to join, show and enjoy their cars. Unfortunately, I don't think most BCA members would have a lot of nice things to say to someone showing a 2004 Regal GS, or (heaven forbid!) a late-model Lucerne or Lacrosse.

A few months ago, I went to a Corvette show in Boerne, Texas. There was everything from a 1954 'Blue Flame 6' to heavily modified 2009 coupes and convertibles. And, someone had the nerve to bring a 2010 Camaro! So what did I see there? Young owners, old owners, families, kids, the curious, the "I don't know anything about Corvettes but like to look at them" types. In other words, ALL cars, ALL owners and ALL spectators were welcome.

So, if the membership is dwindling, if the shows look like a meeting of AARP members, many people only need to look in the mirror to find the problem. In other words, STOP criticizing the Buicks that YOU don't like or think are interesting. WELCOME new people, new cars and, yes, modified Buicks.

Personally, I lost interest in my local chapter when a member once hijacked a meeting, telling everyone for about 20 minutes about how GM and Buick haven't made a decent car since

1940-something. So, stop making the BCA and local chapters into exclusive clubs that don't let in or welcome 'those people or those cars.'

Joe

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Interesting thread everyone, I am interested in your posts as I have been watching my own Pontiac Oakland Club with similar concerns about decline in recent years, and of course Buick/Olds/Pontiac have many shared characteristics.

I notice you are concerned about the Buick club being naturally demographically older, which would seem logical given Buick's traditional market. One would think the home of GTO and Firebird would attract a comparatively younger crowd. Well, one would be wrong in that, the Pontiac club is probably as gray as you are. In fact, one would also think street rodded Pontiacs would skew younger and their growing ranks are every bit as old as the club at large. I joined the Pontiac club in 1987 at 19 years old and joke that I was always the youngest member wherever I went. Now at 41 I still am......

The question is, why does the performance division's club also not attract a younger crowd? My best guess is:

1. Antique car collectors have always naturally been a little older.

2. People just do not join groups like they used to.

3. The car culture mindset is not what it used to be.

4. Car people can tend to be arrogant and unwelcoming to younger people or those with lesser cars or funds.

5. It is seen as an unaffordable hobby for younger people.

Now we can argue the reality of the above but I think these issues, real or not, are holding people back from joining the hobby. Sadly, I do not think either of our clubs will be expanding and I do not know what to do about that. I guess we can just all try to be good individual ambassadors for the hobby and include kids as much as we can. Any other ideas? Todd

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Reatta Man,

You hit nail-on-head when you said "pride of ownership". The ROA's motto is in fact "Share the Pride". Its boldly scripted on our website and on our 3-fold introductory brochure. Its an attitude we ROA members strive to maintain.

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I hope I'm not bringing a dead thread back to life, but last night at a local cruise night I arranged to get the BCA as the feature club. They allowed me to speak a bit about the BCA. We had two cars up from MN for the weekend, and we started off with 3 other BCA member cars there (ewing's '47 Roadmaster, and my Wildcat and '62 Special). As other Buicks pulled in, we encouraged them to park with us in the prime area.

I don't know what the end result is...and may never know. Prior to the weekend, I had printed out a number of applications from the BCA web site with my name and BCA # in the sponsor field. I had printed up 10. I have one left. Basically, when we got a Buick to park with us, I introduced myself, handed the driver the application form, and chatted a bit about what the BCA has meant for me. I also put a few on driver's seats of cars that I didn't get a chance to see the driver.

Another got handed to a fellow who approached me to chat since I had the Wildcat there. He is restoring a '64 Wildcat. One of the fellows from Minnesota also has a '64 Wildcat, along with parts, expertise, and so on. We had a good chat and this fellow seems a likely prospect.

At any rate, if over the coming months, we see new members listed in the Bugle from Winnipeg, it would seem I was somewhat successful. If not, at least I exposed additional Buick owners to the existence of the BCA.

The BCA is our club. It will survive if we want it to and are willing to take a bit of action on its behalf.

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Derek,

Great job! I know I will be handing out a ton of application at Fall Autofair in CLT this coming weekend. The Carolina Chapter has a prime spot in the car show area and we will have our chapter banner up to hepl attract some more attention.

It would be great if every member handed out applications at car shows. Keep up the good work!

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Guest BJM

Our town Madrid, Iowa has a 300 + car Labor Day show. I had to work my part time job at 2pm but I was able to meet 4 of the 5 Buick owners there - two will be in Ames. One of the guys had already been approached by Rick Young.

It was an interesting demographic. Kind of depressing only 6 total Buicks among 300 + cars.

4 GS Skylarks and one 1983 Riviera convertible. The 3 owners I meet were guys, all 3 were active in the GS Club and NOT the BCA. The one fellow that Rick talked to has joined the BCA and will have is strato blue 69 400 GS convertible at Ames.

Another older fellow I would say age 65 had a 72 GS455 stage 1 and was amazed that Iowa would be hosting the BCA National Meet. He is planning to join and come (from Fort Dodge Iowa).

He said something interesting which reinforces my points. He said he has seen GS National Meets draw 3500 cars. If that is true then clearly that outnumbers a BCA National meet.

BCA leadership needs to continue to put that olive branch out there for ROA and GS Club members. If we can formally get them to become BCA members then our roster would swell and give us a hedge against the age issue (The other two owners of GS's I met where in their 40's / 50's)

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Derek has the right idea passing out applications... However, it would be much more effective if the applications were wrapped with a Bugle magazine. When potential members see it, I am sure they would be impressed...

My 2 cents...

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Great idea, Mark. Are extra copies available and at what cost?

Ben

Maybe the Buick Club office could contact the Pittsburg Portholes that sell the leftover Bugles and see what inventory they have, numbers wise, then look at the articles pertaining to years as Pete has done a wonderful job, documenting, and Chapters, and indiviuals could request certain copies that they think their friends and car show folks would be interested in to pass out, and then the Buick Club BOD, could approve postage to send those out, just a thought.

I have a half a box full of the March 1993 Bugle by the previous editor on Buick's Performance Year's, I have handed out many, still have more, not sure we gained any membership from that, or not.

You all might look at our new BCA Vice President's post on the Opinions on the Buick Club of America - Buick Performance Group Forum

For thoughts from outside the BCA world, for other ideas.

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When I sold my Wildcat, I paid for a one year membership to the BCA for the new owner. I also gave him this website info and a bunch of parts catalogs. It cost me next to nothing, and I hope he will ante up when the time comes. Sometimes it takes more than a little shove.

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Thanks for the link, Roberta! Interesting comments from BPG members, which I've seen and heard similar from our local Mopar enthusiasts about the club I'm in and of others I know of.

Several years ago, our race group extended a "Howdy, come to our monthly meeting. We like ALL Mopars" to the local Shelby Dodge Auto Club chapter. Initially, they were skeptical that our "Mopar" interest was universal. It seems that THEIR orientation was that our group was "A bunch of old men driving around in old rear wheel drive cars . . .", despite the fact that our group is (something like) an 8-time winner of the Muscle Car Club Challenge race series in the DFW area.

When I was an officer, pre-2001, I tried to make sure we struck a good balance between "show" and "race", as we had enough members to participate in BOTH types of events . . . and win awards. Some prospective members wanted to call us "A bunch of old folks that sits around at cruise nights", to which I'd counter that we also had racers out eating up the competition at local drag strips each weekend, too. In other words, my "our groups embraces BOTH orientations" to let them know that we had something they would like to be a part of, whether it was race or show.

So, it seems the "show" and "race" factions are lining up again such that they seem to NOT understand that it takes similar expertises to do well in both areas. One of our members has several award-winning concours restored Mopar muscle cars. After he showed each one at Mopar Nats and other local shows, the first year they were done, then he took them to the muscle car shoot-out races. As Roberta probably knows, he wins his class regularly--or at least did, if he's still racing, in a concours restored Plymouth MaxWedge that is "show" and "go". "Similar expertises", but in different areas.

Personally, I can (and have) learned more from being involved in OEM-correct restorations which were "as produced" rather than "over-restored to please some show judges" than I have in watching drag races. One of the expertises in drag racing is chassis set-up and starting line technique, plus engine tuning. Another expertise is CORRECT engine-building, which can be just as much of an art in itself as doing a correct restoration--whether a race or higher performance engine or a completely "as-produced-spec" engine for a restoration project.

Locally, we have our North Texas Chapter of the BCA and there is also a chapter of what used to be the GSCA. I'm not sure of their current affiliation, if any. What started out as a GS club has evolved into a "Turbo Buick Club". Over the years, we've had some cross-over members, but they usually gravitate back to the GS club over the years. Their "glory" is in chrome, tire smoke, and gasoline whereas very few of our BCA chapter members are really that interesting in drag racing OR have cars that would do well in such an environment.

Several years ago, one of our chapter members looked far and wide for a GN. He finally found one that was "unmolested" and bought it. He brought it to one of our meetings where some of the GS club members were also present. When he drove in, they descended upon this "new car". Seeing it was totally bone stock, they immediately started telling him what HE should do to make it run better. He thanked them for their comments but such modifications were not what he wanted the car for. Even back then, finding a GN that had "normal" use in its history was a task!

With the history of both the BCA and the BPG, it is obvious that their priorities are in different places, which is totally understandable, all things considered. I highly suspect that, considering the many restoration parts which the BPG has been involved in getting done over the past 5 years or so (which help the restoration, weekend cruise, and racing communities!), there are probably some cross-over areas where BOTH groups of Buick enthusiasts have a lot more common ground than they might ever suspect.

In what seems to be the current business model of many businesses, each section of the business entity is so focused on their OWN part of things that they seldom seem to look at how what they do can affect the total entity. Such "high focus" might have been termed "with blinders on" in prior times. Historically, the BCA has been highly focused on "OEM, End of the Assembly Line correct" vehicles. Modifications were not allowed--period. Newer Buicks were not allowed in the 400 Point judged show--period. Even the current "Driver's Class" has many OEM-based regulations, such that if too many modifications were made to "a driver", then it would need to be in the Modified Division's section of the National Meet!

With respect to national-level event scheduling, we had a similar situation with the Texas Mopar clubs, of where there were five at the time. Each club staked out their own month for their annual show event. Sometimes, they were held at a drag strip, others were at other locations. Key thing -- it did NOT take a drag race venue to make for a fun show event. It was seeing the cars, looking at various things others had done to their stock or modified or race cars, and talking to the other enthusiasts at the event that made it worth while. It took a few years for us to get the scheduling firmed-up, but we did and then we ALSO strongly advocated that we all support each others' shows, too, when we could.

I saw one comment in the BPG forum which implied the BCA scheduled their national meet "on top of" that year's BPG big event . . . as if it was done deliberately to keep the two clubs from "mixing". I highly doubt there was any such intent on the part of the BCA operatives, knowing that such BCA National Meets are scheduled far in advance, just as the BPG events probably tend to be, but the BPG poster's comments gave me the impression that they perceived the BCA didn't "want to play" by that act.

I also know that events which are held at drag strips have very inflexible time slots they can deal with . . . in between sanctioned local, regional, and possibly national drag race series events. Once you get one staked out, you're pretty much locked into that date slot unless one of the larger drag race bodies changes a date for one of their races. On the BCA side of things, there is much more flexibility, but when such dates are contracted, there usually is little consideration other than what dates they can get locked in and where the event activities will be. Flexible, but within local considerations and "conventions" of when the BCA National Meets can be and please the most possible potential attendees, time-wise.

By observation, FEW of the BCA National Meet locations have a full 1/4 mile drag strip in reaonable driving distance from the meet. It might be fun to go see the drag races, but the tightness of how the other events at the BCA National Meets usually tend to be, if you go to the races, you'll probably miss some other interesting things to do or tours to take or people to see. In Columbus, it was not that bad of a drive to National Trails or such a bad drive to IRP at Brownsburg from Indy, or to Milan from Flint.

I might have a different orientation, but to me, these show events are more about learning from what others have done and accomplished with their vehicles. When I did have a car to show, it was not so much as "Look what I've done" as adding something to the show, itself. Personally, I like a more "stock" appearance, but I am also NOT opposed to some modifications if they are well-done--even "incognito" unless you know what you're looking at.

Similarly, it seems the BPG's "high focus" in on drag racing events. Some of this might be attributed to a "younger crowd", but that "age factor" is not always the case. In EITHER group, there has to be a credible mentor/knowledge base for newer members to draw upon.

It might take a few years for the BCA and BPG to become more cooperative on national events and such, but I believe it could be a good thing for both groups as EACH can expand their horizons, in many respects. Working together and being friends usually results in a mutually beneficial situation.

Regards,

NTX5467

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Just to make everything clear, Mike Book called me (I am the office manager for the BPG) earlier in the year and asked when our event was to be held in 2010. I gave him the dates and told him that we really could not move our date around much as National Trail Raceway was booked for all other weekends around our date. He said he would let folks know of our plans and I am sure he did.

Someone in the BCA obviously didn't care.

I am NOT blaming Mike and Nancy that the events next year fall on the same date, but it sure would have been nice for the two events to not be on the same weekend. Hopefully this can be rectified in future years. Mike and Nancy are about the best people in the world and, in fact, they were the ones to get me to join the BCA back in 1980. I am in no way accusing them of anything wrong.

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Guest BJM

I just talked to two Iowa owners of Skylark GS's one from Fort Dodge, the other another local town. Now, the owner of the 72 Stage 1 said he was a long time member of the BPG (GS Club? same thing?) and was excited to hear of the BCA National coming to Ames. I estimate his age at 62-65ish.

Now this news of coinciding national meets.

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I just talked to two Iowa owners of Skylark GS's one from Fort Dodge, the other another local town. Now, the owner of the 72 Stage 1 said he was a long time member of the BPG (GS Club? same thing?) and was excited to hear of the BCA National coming to Ames. I estimate his age at 62-65ish.

Now this news of coinciding national meets.

Probably was Gary Foster, the Ft Dodge guy. Super nice guy that built the engines for my two GSX's and also did a motor swap on my 1985 GMC 1 ton tilt-rollback (now 455 Stage 1 powered :D )

The Buick Performance Group is not the same as the GS Club of America. The BPG is a 501c3 corporation and sponsors a national meet once per year in the Columbus area. The GSCA is owned by Richard Lassiter from Valdosta, GA and they have a national meet each year in Bowling Green, KY.

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I was at 2 shows this weekend and as BJM stated Buicks accounted for about 3% of registrations. But none were more enthusiastic as our Buick folks. Hopefully got 5 new members by just asking and giving them the Buick Club web address.

To our friends in the Buick Performance Group, there was absolutely no intent on crashing show dates. When faced with having No National in 2010 Bill Stoneberg and I took it on.

We worked with the Ames Visitors Bureau to get the best deal. The other alternative was Nashville which would have been to close for comfort for the BPG event.

You guys are welcome here anytime.

Remember, THE MEMBERSHIP DRIVE, WE HAVE 200 EARS OF SWEETCORN FROZEN AND MOUTHWATERING IOWA PORK LOINS READY FOR THE CLUB WHO GAINS THE MOST NEW MEMBERS. The Carolinas would be sweet or maybe Florida???????????

R Y

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let me introduce myself...My Name is Sean Ryder I am the current Buick Performance Group Chairman. Brian and I have been exchanging e-mails and private messages about how we can make make both the BCA and the BPG grow and florsih... A BUICK is a BUICK no matter what year it was made. Both groups have stigmas about what is acceptable to show up at an event...the BCA with pre war cars...the BPG with performance cars....but to be honest....I like all of them...and so do most of the BPG membership...even if it is a JAG with a Buick Motor and drivetrain....its heart is a Buick....The reason I responded to Brains post on the BPG board is I as well as others want all Buick to attend our Event...and we would reciprocate by attending your Events...BUT some of our members want racing...which the BCA does not provide....at this time my 87 GN looks like cr@p...but it runs and I love it,,and it runs 11's...the BPG hosted a GSX Reunion this year that had 93 GSX's attend...the most the world had ever seen in one place at one time...we had over 20 that showed up at the meet and greet...that Drove their cars on the street...$100K cars...I am up for any and all suggestions to help both clubs survive...sorry for the long post...if any one wishes contact me send e-mail to gbsean@optonline.com We can help each other

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