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The 4th Gear – Episode 4: Interview with Jeff DeMarey: Board Director of the Classic Car Club of America

 

The 4th Gear – Presented by Classic Auto Insurance

The 4th Gear is a video podcast that will give you the opportunity to listen to individuals that share your passion and enthusiasm for collectible cars. This platform will allow you to gain a unique insight and understanding of the benefits of being a member of a car club or auction or a DIY restoration.

Interview Transcript:

Jeff B

Hello, and welcome to The 4th Gear. My name is Jeff Broadus. I’m your host for this edition. This broadcast. Today I’m with Jeff DeMarey, who is the, uh, national one of the national board directors for the CCCA. He is also the chairman of the membership committee, which is one of the things we really want to talk about here today. Uh, Jeff, good morning. 

Jeff D

Morning. How are you Jeff?

Jeff B

Awesome. Jeff and Jeff, there you go. Um, I want to talk to you a little bit about the CCCA. I’ve been a member for a long time. I’m one of the… I’ve always collected post-war cars, not pre-war cars. So, uh, although I’ve driven classic cars that belonged to someone else in some of these tours and caravans, uh, but I’ve never actually owned one. I’ve always gone after a 41 Cadillac. Which is actually a pretty common car, for the CCCA because of reliability and parts and everything else. Tell us a little…

Jeff D

Makes for a great touring car, you know, and parts are available and things of that nature. So the, the forties Cadillacs are great for the club. 

Jeff B 

Let’s, um, let’s talk about your journey a little bit. You have unbelievable automotive knowledge. You’ve judged actually judged together at several events. Amelia Island, uh, The Elegance, Boca Raton, Greenwich. You’re, you’re really heavy into the car world. What how did you, what was your first introduction to classic cars and the CCCA? Where did your journey kind of start there?

Jeff D

My journey started. I had a good friend by the name of Ron Siff who saw me as a fledgling insurance agent just getting into the classic car hobby. He grabbed ahold of me and dragged me to a couple of meetings. And I never envisioned I would ever sit where I am today after meeting Ron. We’ve since lost Ron many years ago.

Um, but he was the… The reason that I was involved in the club, and it was just a great start to get involved and, you know, cut my teeth and I didn’t have a classic car for many, many years. You don’t need one for the club. You just need to have a love for the cars. So. You know, I met up with the likes of George Holman in my neck of the woods and, and a whole bunch of people that really had cars and were willing to share them and expose me to them. I got involved in volunteering. I call it “volunteeritus”. You know, you raise your hand too many times and you really don’t know what you’re going to be doing with everything. 

Jeff D

Becoming a regional director of the New England region. Pulled off a very successful caravan in 2016. I had never even been on one, and I planned one. And we had 130 cars that came to the Mount Washington and then went over to the coast of Maine. And it’s still talked about today as one of the best caravans that were, that was ever put on. And I didn’t know what the secret sauce was, but it was, it was great. It was a wonderful event and there were almost 260 people involved. So it was, it was great. It was really good. So I’ve been doing events and I got elected to the national board. And really want to save the club and get the membership going because, you know, unfortunately, we do lose members. They die, but our cars don’t. So my, my goal is to really try to find the cars, and find the people and put the fun back in it again, you know? 

Jeff B

And, you know, let’s talk about planning a caravan a little bit. When you were planning any kind of road tour rather it’s a classic car club tour or whatever it might be. The logistics of putting that whole thing together from the time people show up to what the activities are. From people just eating, getting gas, lodging. It’s, there’s a lot of work that goes into that. So that and the goal is. So when people show up, they really can just enjoy the experience. They don’t have to worry about everything else because of the planning. So when you start to plan a caravan, or, or one of your tour, How, how early do you start before everything begins? 

Jeff D

Three years. 

Jeff B

Wow. 

Jeff D

Three years. It took, it took me three years to plan that 2016 caravan. And what is so nice about the club is the caravans. That, that is the reason for it. Because you get committed people like myself. As a caravan committee, we do them two of them around the country. And it’s the locals that are planning the very best hotels, the best food, the best views. We drive the roads.

So we know the roads are good for the cars, or you watch for construction. It is just literally you are, you pay to be on the caravan. You drop in. And just like you say, it’s just pure enjoyment of the area, you know?

Jeff B

You’re doing scenic tours where you’re enjoying…

Jeff D

Absolutely. 

Jeff B

You’re in the New England area. You know, I lived in New England briefly. And to be able to drive some of those roads, and just see New England for what it is. And you can say that about any stretch of the country that’s what the experience is.

Jeff D

Absolutely the experience. And it’s the comfort level of participating in being a club member. And knowing that I may not know this guy from a hole in the wall, but it’s going to be a good caravan because he lives there and has been there and done that. 

Jeff B

And not only that you have in doing these caravans and tours, but you’re also with other like-minded individuals. You’re with people that if your car has a problem and they are old cars. 

Jeff D

Oh yeah. 

Jeff B

They have problems. It’s amazing the wealth of knowledge that’s there. Somebody says, oh, I had that happen to me. I know exactly what it is. Next thing, you know, 20 minutes later, you’re back on the road again. 

Jeff D

Exactly. Exactly. 

Jeff B

Yeah. You were going to…membership. You mentioned membership a little bit, which is part of the reason for this broadcast. We really want people to understand what CCCA is all about, and why should you be a member? So let’s, let’s touch on that a little bit.

Jeff D

The, saying for the club, and has been for a long time is very simple. You come for the cars, but you stay for the people. And you hear it over and over and over again from the top club members and everything else. And it’s very truthful. It’s comradery. It’s like you say. It’s stopping on the side of the road, laughing and joking pulling Joe’s, you know, chain because his car ran out of gas, or his fuel filter got clogged or, you know, it’s whatever it is to bust somebody’s chops. It’s there to help them. It’s to enjoy a wonderful meal. It’s, it’s a, it’s a great event. It was, it was the Facebook of, of cars years ago. I mean, it was, you were somebody if you were a member of the Classic Car Club. It was a privilege to be there, and joined, and attend the events. And now the club, all the clubs, you know, have all got a morph into something different. It’s, it’s a different technology level. It’s the attention span is not there. Even for the older folks. It’s, it’s kind of, they, they watch the events on their phones and they see where they want to go. There isn’t a plan of, you know, in January, I’m going to go on October tour. You know, they’re going to wait until August or September to tell us whether they’re coming on the October tour. So it makes it difficult. But the benefits are the camaraderie, the people. We do Grand Classic car shows where we judge your cars. It’s where the terms of a hundred-point car came from. We educate new people and new judges to help us keep us on track with the cars, and keep them up to a standard. Some people love it, some people hate it. But it’s part of it. 

Jeff B

The difference between a tour and a Grand Classic is the judging element. Would that be correct? 

Jeff D

A Grand Classic is a fancy car show. It is a CCCA only car show. There’s a bunch of classes the cars are put in, and then they’re judged on whether they won in the past, and whether they’re historical, or whether they’ve been over-restored or under restored. Things of that nature.

So the Grand Classic is more of a show. The tour is where you bring your 41 Cadillac that is a road driver. And you drive her until the wheels come off. Okay. The J series Duesenberg that you’ve just spent, you know, 1.2 on to restore comes to the Grand Classic. 

Jeff B

The word classic is probably the most overused term in the collector car hobby.

Jeff D

Yes.

Jeff B

You know, people will talk about their classic car and it could be anything. It could be a 25-year-old Chevy. It could be anything. But that’s not really what the classic car is, how The Classic Car Club defines “classic car”. So tell me about the era. What is, what defines a classic car?

 Jeff D

The classic car club is defined by, we’re not a mark club, we’re a kind of age in a way a car was built. So from 1915 to 1948 is the year range of our cars. And the cars have to be of exceptional quality and build. Most of the time, they’re all coach-built cars. And a lot of people don’t realize what a coach-built car is. And that basically, in 1930, when you went into a car dealer, you bought just the nose, the windshield and the dashboard, and a bunch of metal on the back of the car. And then you hired a true craftsman of many distinctions to build and set up the car exactly the way you wanted it. I mean, that’s where Waterhouse came from. It’s where, where all of the fantastic coach builders came from. And those are the cars that we strive to, to show off, maintain, upgrade and take care of.

Jeff B

Yep. And when you’re looking at what all the Classic Car Club has to offer, you guys have a wealth of knowledge you’ve talked about not only amongst your members but as part of the club. You have a library. You have a lot of archives and things that can help people who kind of want to get started and better understand perhaps maybe what car they’re looking for right?

Jeff D

Yeah, we do well, we have an extensive library. And we have, what I think is another thing that sets us out is we have car technicians. When you’re a member of the club, if you buy a Stutz, you can look up in the club, and there’s a gentleman who, a gentleman or a woman who has decided to be the technician of that car. Okay? And you can literally pick up the phone and say, “Hey, I’m Joe Nobody. I just bought this 32 Blackhawk. What did I get myself into?” And he’ll probably say, “Oh my God, you bought uncle Louie’s car? That thing is the greatest thing in the world.” Or, “Man, man, you got screwed bud.” One of, one of the two, you know? I mean, it’s the greatest thing. So basically every mark has got a technician. From a Cadillac to Duesenbergs to Packards. LaSalles. And it’s great to be able to have that resource of… you’re not going to go to Napa to find parts. So where, where do I go to find parts for my 38 Packard? I’m lucky I’ve got, you know, a plethora of, of people in my brain from Chris Charleton up in Maine to, you know, Steve Babinski and New Jersey to, to all kinds of people, and Parker’s Packards. And I can just touch base with those guys and keep, keep my Packard’s running, you know? 

Jeff B

We talk about in the very beginning of this broadcast, you talked about kind of the aging of our, of our members. CCCA. And we’re reaching out kinda to the next generation. And the next generation. I mean, technology comes into play. I mean, that’s just where we’re at. It’s, you have all of the social media platforms. You have the internet. You have all of these things. How are you utilizing technology to help build membership? 

Jeff D

Well, we’re doing social media, Facebook posts, we’ve got a new Instagram committee that a couple of people are working on, and they’re going to be posting a lot of photos. I’m working on getting a younger group of, basically under 40-year-olds together to leave me off the committee and have them start to tell me what, what we need to do to attract, you know, the young, the young viewers and young people. Because the car hobby is, is very strong out there. people don’t seem to think so, but there’s a couple of things called Radwood, and a few other events that are just attracting massive numbers of 20 somethings. They have flash events, which literally is one guy who says, “Hey, we’re all gonna meet in Walmart.” And I’ve never seen anything like it. In literally 30 minutes, there’ll be 80 to a hundred cars. Blink. Right there in the show. And then it’s like, “Okay, we’re all going to go to Starbucks.” They’re all gone. And then they’re done. Okay. I mean, you heard of a flash mob. Well, it’s, it’s a flash car show. And that’s just, you know, you and I, when we were kids and dating and everything else, we needed a car. We needed to get to the restaurant or the school, or we wanted to take our girl out. Well, now it’s, it’s on your phone. It’s here. And it’s hard to bring, you know, a 38 Packard on your phone.

But so tech technology is a challenge for the older folks and that’s one of the things I’m really committed this year in.

Jeff B

Bridging the gap. 

Jeff D

Figuring it out. 

Jeff B

Yeah. You know, in your right. We’re basically going to our children who have an interest in cars. I have a daughter. She’s 32 years old. She has been going to events and car shows with me since she was a baby. I mean, we took her everywhere. And she, she would go to school and, the boys would, she’d talk to the boys obviously. And she started talking about cars and she knew more about the cars and the guys did. And they would go oh man! And that’s kind of, it becomes infectious. And that’s what really trying to create here is, learn, you, you look at the auctions today. You look at Mecum. You look at RM Sotheby’s. You’ll look at Gooding. You look at Worldwide. They just record after record sales. Not only the volume, the number of sales, but what they’re getting for some of these cars. People getting involved. And as I’m talking to some of these people that bought cars at Mecum it was here in Kissimmee just a month ago. And I said, you, you bought this car. It was kind of ambitious and what you paid, why’d you do it? He goes, “It’s not about the money. It’s about, this is what I want. This is my passion That’s the car I went after. I’m going to enjoy the car. I didn’t buy it for an investment I love the car.” What advice would you give somebody who’s thinking about coming into the hobby, thinking about coming into the Classic Car Club and getting involved and looking for a car?

Jeff D

I would seriously reach out to find the mark that you like or find a car that you like. Reach out to one of the technicians in the club reach out to me.  The club members are more than happy to find you a car that’s sitting in a garage that would be reasonably priced. I mean, you can, you could easily get into, a 41 Cadillac for 25, $30,000 and be part of the event. That will, however, I’ll caution everybody. That will lead you into the Cadillacs, into the Packards, into the twenties and the thirties. And you’ll be in a much, much bigger dollar value vehicle. But that’s one of them, one of the best things. The auctions are great for pomp and circumstance. They drive our market something fierce. It’s an absolutely, it’s not even a hot market. It’s an Inferno right now. It’s just, I don’t know what to say. It’s just crazy. What is going on in the market? But I think it’s very reasonable to get into the club. And you don’t even need a car to get into the club. You can hop in the backseat of somebody’s car. I did it for 15 years. 20 years easily of being able to just ride with people and enjoy the cars.

Jeff B

And it’s not just American cars, a lot of people I’ve had say the CCCA is American classics. It’s not true. Is that Correct? 

Jeff D

Correct. There’s a whole host of cars on the list. I can send you the list, and we can share it with the viewers if you’d like what’s out there. And we’re constantly looking to carefully expand the club. We’re looking at Delahayes, and some of the other European marks [00:17:00] now to add into it, but those are big-dollar cars. 

Jeff B

And it used to be, it was all pre-war cars. 1942 in earlier. You’ve actually gone into. To the post-war. 1948. Because after the war, they hadn’t tooled up yet for changing body style.

So a lot of the 1947s and 1948s were the same as the 1941s. 

Jeff D

Right Exactly. 

Jeff B

That expansion. Now you’re expanding your pool again, as you were just mentioning, we’re looking at what other cars would really qualify and fit. Tell us a little bit about what’s kind of the most memorable experience you had. I remember something about all the cars on a ferry, but you’d go ahead and tell us that story. 

Jeff D

Actually, the picture in my background here is a tour that I did. I did probably about six months ago in September. We went from, Boston and Newport, excuse me, Boston to Cape Cod. And then at Woods Hole,  I ventured to put 10 or 11 of these cars on a ferry. And it was quite an anxious moment. We were all sitting in line, and the ferry pulls up and the door comes down, and we drive the cars on, and then you’re kind of “Seriously?” We got all these, millions of dollars a car is sitting here. From a Duesenberg, and a bunch of Packards, and award-winning Cadillacs. And it was, it was just crazy. But we went over to the vineyard for three days and came back. And had an absolutely fabulous time. I had a great little experience of actually teaching what I would call a youngster. She’s probably 28 to early thirties. How to double collect and drive my Packard. And it was, it was fabulous. We’re driving up and down a beach road on, Martha’s vineyard teaching her how to drive and she is now hooked, line, and sinker sold on buying a classic. And those are the things that the car owners need to do. We need to get our cars out. We need to put kids in them and get people to enjoy them. Do you know?

Jeff B

The big insurance joke for the longest while was, “I bet you that the biggest claim you have is people stealing classic cars.” And we would laugh and say, “They don’t steal them because most people don’t know how to drive them.” 

Jeff D

Exactly. 

Jeff B

Completely different experience. 

Jeff D

I was laughing at the Olympics last night. There was a commercial on TV that was talking about we started them with a key and now we put, we, we sit, we have push-button starts, and then we sit in them and they run, it was an electric car thing and I’m like, wait, my Packard starts with a push button. It’s got, many cars have following lights that follow the steering wheels, you know, that, that does the tracking and everything else. Some start with the gas pedal. Some have buttons on the floor. All this stuff that these auto manufacturers have thought about is really old-school stuff rehashed, you know? 

Jeff B

This isn’t new innovation.  This is just Broadcasting that, oh, by the way, look at what we’re doing as if it hadn’t happened before. It was like the Hemi going into Chryslers. When I had the Classic Car magazine on one of the covers I put ” Chrysler Brings Back The Hemi”. And my daughter looked at me, and she goes, “You mean they had Hemi’s before?” So, to your point, it is. It’s just a matter of innovation kind of bringing back some of the old, with the new. As we kind of wrap things up here a little bit. Tell our readers, how would they, how would they get in touch with you? How would they find out a bit more about the CCCA? How do they, how can they kind of reach out to your group, reach out…you have many Regions across the country as well. It’s not just the New England area. Correct? 

Jeff D

Correct. Correct. I sit on both the national and the New England regions. But there are 26 other regions throughout the country. They all have directors and membership people and so on and so forth. The biggest suggestion I would say would be either go right to our webpage at classiccarclub.org. They could reach out to me directly. I can, I can give you my cell phone number. I’d be more than happy to have him call me. I’ll even extend any viewer that really wants to be part of the club. I’ll give you a free digital membership to the club for a year. So that in 2023, you can pay and renew, but that will get you involved in the club. You’ll get the publications. You’ll get, the newsletters, the good stuff, and where we’re having events and stuff like that. I would be honored to give anybody watching a membership.

Jeff B

Now, was the publication quarterly, or, or tell me about the publication. 

Jeff D

It’s eight it’s eight publications. Its four magazines and four bulletins is what comes out of national. And then each region where you have, they usually have kind of the same thing. They usually have quarterly pubs. So you have two magazines and two bulletins that come specifically to the different regions. Obviously, some regions are extremely active, Michigan, New England, Florida, California Pacific Northwest. Those are our hot spots. But we’d love to get any of them going and, and get everybody a part of them. 

Jeff B

And it’s, and the publications are beautiful. And you also get a national directory. So once you’re part of the club, if there’s something specific you’re looking for, everybody’s listed in the directory. It’s easier to network with people. I mean, you’re really building a family. You’re building comradery. And you’re helping people get a better understanding of what the CCCA is all about. And these cars are spectacular. I mean, they’re beautiful. If somebody wanted to budget for a car. They’re out looking. Not as specific make or model, where would be a starting point to be able to kind of budget it. If you’re looking for your first car? 

Jeff D

For a good, a good CCCA driver, you can probably get, a good one for $45,000. A really nice one that you’d be extremely proud of. I mean, you can get one that you can take on caravans that would be 25,000 that’s an absolute beautiful driver. It’ll go out and drive and you can use it and go from there. And then it goes, on up to 80 to a couple of million dollars, depending on what you want. I Look at that beautiful golden Duesenberg that just sold at Worldwide, I think it was a couple of days ago. 

Jeff B 

Yup. Yup. And the beauty of this. These people love to drive these cars. It isn’t about how much they paid for them. 

Jeff D 

Nope. 

Jeff B

$50,000 or several hundred thousand. They enjoy the drive. They enjoy. And when you show up a caravan shows up in a city and they block it off, all these cars pull up, people come out of the woodwork. They just can’t believe the beauty. The design. And that’s what really sets these cars off. It’s, it’s not Like a lot of the post-war cars. These pre-war cars are just beautiful. They’re huge works of art. And they’re just magnificent to look at. The from the exterior to the interior, to all the features, to the wheels and tires. Much of what you’re looking at behind you. And the cars you have behind you. They’re all… it’s it is worth… If a caravan is coming to town, you’re interested. Maybe that’s a great way to kind of really get to know the CCCA a little bit. go to where one of the tours is. Go to an Encore event. Get involved that way.  Do you think that’s a start? 

Jeff D: 

It’s crazy. You, mentioned the design elements of the cars. I often say the higher end of our cars the supercharged Cords, and the supercharged Duesenbergs. Those were the Bugatti Veyrons of the day. You had people standing in food lines that couldn’t feed their families, and the wealthy were buying a 1930 Duesenberg. And driving a hundred miles an hour when a model A was what? $495. And it would top out at like 15 miles an hour. And you had no roads. There was no, no asphalt. There was dirt, there was everything else. And a hundred miles an hour in a Duesenberg on a dirt road. No way. You couldn’t get me to do it today. But that was, you know, Fred and Augie’s claim to fame. 

Jeff B

Some of these cars, you listen to the Packard. You own a Packard. You don’t even know the car’s running. 

Jeff D

You don’t.

Jeff B

Such precision. It’s so quiet. But a Duesenberg pulls up, and it literally rattles the earth beneath it because of the way it sounds. So two beautiful cars. Completely designed and engineered differently, but you get a sense and that’s, and that’s the beauty of that as well. 

Jeff D

Yep. 

Jeff B

That’s awesome.  Thank you so much. Thank you for all your insight. And we’ll be sure and give all the viewers. Information on the website, the phone numbers, getting a hold of you. All of the things that we talked about. We’re going to be posting it on the site as well. And you’ll see that at the end of this broadcast. Thank you for your time this morning. Thank you for such great insights. And most of all, thank you for what you’re doing for the CCCA. They couldn’t have a better person doing exactly what you’re doing. So thank very much. 

Jeff D

Hey, thank you too, my friend. Have a great day. 

Jeff B

You too.

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