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New CCCA President: “We need to be focused” to attract younger members

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Image courtesy Classic Car Club of America.

Carroll Jensen certainly believes the Classic Car Club of America can only grow by attracting younger members. However, the newly elected president of the 66-year-old collector-car institution rejects the idea that the club should expand its definitions of Full Classics to do so.

“There’s a fair amount of members who would like to see us go beyond 1948,” she said. “And that’s not so much because what makes this period of design important extends past 1948, it’s because they would like to see us get new members. But we’re not going to be all things to all people; we truly want to focus on the Classic era.”

The exact definition of a Full Classic automobile, according to the club, has changed a few times since the club’s origins. Initially, only owners of cars built from 1925 to 1942 – and only those cars of sufficient status, as conferred by the club’s Classification Committee – were eligible for inclusion in the club. Later, that definition stretched to apply to cars built prior to 1925 that are substantially identical to 1925-up Full Classics, then again to include cars built up to 1948, and finally a few years ago to include cars built as early as 1915. Individual makes and models within those years still must go through the Classification Committee to be considered Full Classics.

Jensen said she has no intention to change that during her time as president. Instead, she wants to dismantle the notion that younger car enthusiasts aren’t interested in older cars.

“There was a period of time when people had the concern that old people drove old cars and young people drove muscle cars, as if there were a one-to-one correlation,” she said. However, she said the club has already seen an increase in membership among people in their 40s and 50s, some of whom have no experience in a Full Classic automobile, some of whom grew up among Full Classics.

“We’re seeing that demographic with disposable income and time on their hands, maybe from the kids moving out, getting engaged as new members,” she said.

Jensen can count herself among that demographic. At 52, her initial car experiences came from having older brothers who drove muscle cars. However, after meeting her husband, Carl, a second-generation CCCA member, she joined the club in 1982 and later developed her own appreciation of the technology and design of Full Classics. Today, the Jensen collection includes three Full Classics – a 1925 Marmon D74 phaeton, a 1930 Stutz Model M speedster, and a 1948 Jaguar 3-1/2-Litre – as well as other non-Full Classics including a 1930 Ford Model A pickup and a 1993 Porsche 911. Since joining the CCCA, Jensen has served as a director of the Wisconsin region and on the club’s board of directors.

It’s that demographic, she said – and not even younger enthusiasts in their 20s and 30s – that the club should spend its time, effort, and money pursuing. And largely, she believes enthusiasts in their 40s and 50s can be wooed via awareness and education of Full Classics.

“We want to start with just the love of cars in general, anything with four wheels,” she said. “That’s why we’re trying to have an increasing presence at other shows and concours events. After that, it’s a matter of bringing them over, educating them about coachbuilding and the sophisticated technology and interesting design of our cars.”

In addition, she said she would like to see the club invest more into its website and social media, and she would like to see the club scale back the duration of its touring events.

“Historically, our Caravans have always been seven to 10 days, but who can take two to three weeks?” she asked. “We’ve started to do shorter tours that last five days or a long weekend, and our activities need to be geared toward an audience that can only take a certain amount of time.”

Touring with the cars in turn helps build awareness and dispel the notion that the cars all sit unused in trailers, garages, or museums. One other notion Jensen said she’s working to dispel is that Full Classics all cost tremendous amounts of money. While some do reach into the six- and seven-figure brackets, she said some can cost as little as $30,000.

“There are good quality, good-running affordable Classic cars out there, and there’s not nearly enough emphasis on them,” she said. “Particularly not when some people out here think nothing of spending $50,000 or $60,000 on a bass boat or on a brand-new pickup truck.”

Jensen’s term as president will last two years. For more information on the Classic Car Club of America, visit