Most car enthusiasts enjoy at least the occasional get together, even if they don’t have the time to get out and go all the time. The issue with only going sometimes, though, is that it can get difficult to find the best show when you do go. There isn’t always a ton of information online about them as they can just be informal hangouts. Unfortunately, these informal events can end up being some of the best so you definitely don’t want to miss out. This guide is meant to help you out in your search!
One of the first things to do is choose what type of event you want and the types of cars you’re interested in. There are a wide variety of options here so the more general you are, the easier it will be to find a good event. If you’re only interested in modern Mopars, you may have to search a bit deeper to get a good match. Auto enthusiasts come in all shapes and forms so it’s good to be aware of the type of event you’re going to and whether it will be family friendly or open to all cars.
Once you have a category of vehicle and event type in mind, you can move on to finding the best meet that suits you! Here are the steps I take any time I’m trying to find one starting with a few really easy options.
1. Check if there is a local Cars and Coffee
If you’re somewhat new to the car scene, cars and coffee events have become a global phenomenon due to their incredible display of cars during their Sunday car meets. What started as a small local hangout where enthusiasts could go and grab some coffee and check out cool cars is now a staple of almost every major city.
These are great options for family friendly events that display a wide gamut of car types that cater to the general enthusiast population. Typically there will be supercars, classics, and lots of stuff in between. The OC cars and coffee was especially well known for having some incredible collectors vehicles that rarely frequent free meetups.
Because of it’s well run organization and tendency to amass lots of cool cars, this is definitely the best first place to look when trying to find a meet near you. A good tool to find where they occur can be found here. Of course, C&C still isn’t available everywhere and you may well be interested in more specific options. In that case, don’t fret. There are many options to find a group with a focus on one model or brand.
2. Follow your Local Car Club
If you’re a fan of a specific brand - or even a specific model - of cars, then one of your best bets is to find the local group for that. Almost every major brand has local car groups across the country and world so it shouldn’t be too hard to find them. Most of them will have a facebook group that you can join free, even if you don’t have a car that matches the group.
For instance, I’m part of the Porsche Club of America Facebook group but I sold my Porsche a while ago and am not a member of the parent organization. Most will let you join their public group where they post what they’re doing every weekend. They tend to be pretty active and have regular things going on so it should be easy to get one to fit your schedule. Follow a few of your favorites and then jump into whatever option strikes your fancy.
3. Ask your Friends that Have Cool Cars
Lots of the meetup world is word of mouth so if you know anyone that’s involved in the space, they’ll have some of the best local information. Beyond the larger scale operations like cars and coffee, a lot of the organizers tend to be local mom and pop shops that don’t advertise much. As such, some of the cool local shows could be a bit harder to find without some inside information.
Even if you don’t have a friend, maybe look on social media and follow some people who seem to be going to cool stuff around you and then reach out for some info. This is a great way to not only find fun shows but also to find new friends with similar interests!
4. Use Facebook or Google Events to Explore Events for the Weekend
This one is a bit obvious but I still wanted to point it out. Both Facebook and Google have made big pushes to improve their local events platforms by making it easier to find and post things. The result has been that many more meets now create an online event with one of them, which makes things much easier. Sometimes it may be tough to know what to search for though. Just use keywords of the cars you’re looking for and normally the top options will pop up.
While this is always a good quick check, keep in mind that a huge portion of car events still don’t actually get posted this way. A lot are nothing more than a basic flier that gets distributed to fans of whoever is organizing the event. So if you don’t find what you want here, don’t be discouraged!
5. Use Facebook to Explore Groups in your Area
This is a good next step to the previous option if you can’t find things that match your tastes. Though lots of events don’t get officially posted as events, the fliers do tend to circulate various car groups on social media when people share the images. That means if you join a few groups in your area you may get a bit more visibility into what’s going on every weekend. This is another good place to introduce yourself to fellow car enthusiasts!
6. Join a General Car Meets Group
One of the things I did when I moved back to Houston for a bit was to join a few large Houston car groups. These don’t have any tie with a specific organizer but rather they amalgamate everyone’s events into one place. These types of groups exist in most populated areas and are a great way to keep a bit of a pulse on everything that is going on across the city.
One of the ones I joined can be found on Facebook here: Houston cars. They have a few questions you need to answer to join but it’s mostly just that they want to confirm you’re not going to spam them.
I will say these tend to focus more on modern American muscle cars in my experience so if you’re looking for classics, you may want to try some of the other options I’ve discussed.
7. Take advantage of online car platforms
The automotive enthusiast industry tends to lag behind some of the others when it comes to innovation in terms of how people interact with the cars and organize meets. As you can see above, a lot of people are still using flyers. Not exactly the high end of getting the word out. To make things easier, you can use Topmarq Events to see what events are happening near you and even see what cars showed up if you happen to miss it that time! You can also use it to find new people who attend shows and then connect for future meet ups.
8. A Word of Caution
One thing I’d like to point out is that some car shows can get a little hairy in terms of their safety. Cars and Coffee is well know and tightly organized and even it has some issues with kids burning out and accidentally hitting people at the show - see cars and coffee crash.
If that’s one of the best organized ones, I’m sure you can imagine the less organized ones have more issues. Further, some events are specifically focused on this type of messing around. As a general rule, if the meetup is somewhere in a back industrial park at night, you may be looking at a racing or donut competition event. These have gotten very popular with the younger audiences and generally are very dangerous. If you’re a consenting adult, feel free. However, these are not events for kids and you should be very cautious.
Well that’s all I have for now but I hope this has helped give you a better idea of how you can go about finding some great shows no matter where you live!
Feel free to leave comments below with thoughts or other suggestions and maybe I’ll add it to the list.
Also, if you're having some troubles getting that perfect shot with your camera, here's some Tips on Taking Great Car Photos.