In the Rearview Mirror: Tribes and cars

January 31, 2013

Hagerty Drivers Club Magazine
A Word from McKeel

 

LISTENING TO A LECTURE ON PLATO 24 years ago, I heard my future calling, and it didn’t have much to do with whether a just man is happier than an unjust man. I was a postgrad student at Boston College, and I loved philosophy (still do). My aim was to become a philosophy professor-what else does one do with a degree in deep thoughts? The lecture was a bit dull, so my mind wandered to my family’s small insurance business in Michigan, which primarily covered wooden boats. But what if we covered vehicles, too, I wondered? What if we made cars the main focus? Instead of simply selling policies, what if we focused on celebrating cars and driving right along with our clients, enlarging the hobby and serving it?

It seemed like a solid idea. So I left school and returned home to give it a try. I literally quit and never returned to the classroom. I didn’t do it because I was in love with insurance. Who is? I did it because I’ve always been in love with cars, and building a community of like-minded people was hugely appealing.

Over the years, that’s what Hagerty has become—a community and a tribe of sorts.

We see one another at car events across the nation, from fancy auctions to parking-lot “cars and caffeine” meetups. We meet online to watch Redline Rebuilds, how-to videos, and Tom Cotter’s latest Barn Find adventure. We have spirited debates about our Hagerty.com experts’ picks for “best this” or “worst that.” (I might never get over our choice of the Dodge Caravan as the most significant vehicle of the 1980s.)

Last summer, I shared our plan to expand this magazine and its audience by making it one of the best in the world. That’s what’s happened. Hagerty is now among the most widely read automotive publications anywhere — not just in the U.S., but in the world! Clearly, the tribe has spoken. You can’t get enough of cars and want more, and we do, too. So Hagerty is launching (as you may have noticed from the nifty tear-off cover on this issue) its most ambitious effort ever to give form and substance to this collection of car lovers by creating a community with a name and shared experiences and goals.

We’re calling it the Hagerty Drivers Club. Membership in the HDC will give you this magazine, premium access to our valuation tools, members-only events, automotive discounts, our renowned roadside service, experts to call with any car-related question, and much more. If you’re a Hagerty Plus member, you’re already in the club, along with nearly 600,000 others – and the clubhouse is going to hold a lot more. Our goal is to grow the HDC to six million, the magic number that represents a “movement,” when nearly everyone knows who you are.

Why is that important? Well, the more, the merrier. As the club grows, so will opportunities to meet up, chat, share, and enjoy this hobby. The HDC, we expect, will be a hub and a convener of people who are passionate about all things automotive. Together we have a bigger voice, which will be important as we inch toward autonomy. People who love to drive are going to want to have a say in how people-piloted vehicles and driverless cars share the road. Self-driving cars will be nice in many ways. But I, for one, want to maintain the right to drive my- self when I choose. I’m guessing you do, too.

McKeel is uniting the “tribe” of auto enthusiasts by launching the Hagerty Drivers Club, with a goal of at least six million members.

130 Photo by Michael Pohlman