Car enthusiasts have traditionally fallen into two camps:
(1) Concours obsessives.
These guys like cars in showroom condition. They value originality and cleanliness above all. These folks are generally interested in show-n-shine type events where they can present their (spotless) babies to the world. Maybe they'll do a gentle "fall foliage" driving tour on a sunny weekend, but that's about all. For them, there are two kinds of club events: car shows or wine-and-cheese holiday parties. The MBCA currently does a good job appealing to this this crowd.
These guys love to modify their cars in various ways. Sure, they want their cars to be clean and well-presented, but looking cool and being fast are always more important. In the USA, this basically meant straight-line racing on the strip or street. In Europe, it meant participating in road rallies, hillclimbs, and time trials. Today, most of these guys are doing a mix of auto-cross, HPDE, open track events, and club racing. The MBCA holds essentially zero appeal to this crowd.
These days, we've added a category...
(3) The "stance" crowd.
They fall somewhere in between the concours and hotrod folks. Some are more into the driving/performance aspect (e.g.
, drifters, time attackers) and some are more into the social aspect (e.g.
, hard-parkers, dB draggers). The MBCA practically chases these guys away with a broom.
For a club to be successful, you've got to figure out who your audience is so you can target activities that will interest them. In my view, the MBCA is clearly too far on the concours weenie side of the road for long-term success.
Why? Cars are getting less and less important to people. Besides, a modern Benz is highly unlikely to survive
40 years--let alone remain in showroom condition. So who's going to care enough about it to polish the tailpipe with a Q-Tip? If that's your business model, you're done for.
You need to create an inclusive atmosphere in which young a enthusiast driving a 12-year-old C230 Kompressor on 18" Carlsson alloys, KW coilovers, and Megasquirt feels just as welcome as the guy who spent his retirement savings doing a frame-off restoration on his W113 280SL who feels just as welcome as the orthodontist who just leased his second SLS AMG.
If the MBCA fails to change with the times, you might as well replace your membership ID card with this: