IS THE ARCANE AUTO SOCIETY?
short, a group of people who appreciate and admire unique, small
automobiles, who wish to see them preserved and who also enjoy driving
these cars for their own (and the admiring public's) pleasure. The
motto of the Arcane Auto Society is, "Say, what kind of car
is that?", a question heard repeatedly by club members. It's
also the inspiration for the name of our group and a rough guideline
for membership requirement in the Arcane Auto Society.
1980, three San Franciscans had independently acquired three odd
automobiles: Paul Cowden, a 1958 Fiat 600 Multipla; Greg Cowden,
a 1962 Citroën Deux Cheveux (2CV); and Tom DeJohn, a 1969 Subaru
360 coupe. A sea slug, a duck, and a shoe. After significant mechanical
and sufficient cosmetic restoration of these three arcane autos,
the suggestion was made in the summer of 1982 to actually attempt
to drive our oddities someplace besides around town. Like over the
Golden Gate Bridge and up to the wine country in Napa County for
a Sunday picnic.
results were gratifying. Since none of the cars could exceed 50
mph, except downhill, we became the freeway right-lane parade. The
admiration and amusement of the motoring public as we headed north
was very heartwarming. We felt proud of our arcane machinery. At
one of our first stops that Sunday in 1982 at a roadside produce
stand, the proprietor handed us our motto, nearly intact, when he
queried, "Say, what kind of Volkswagens are those?" "Volkswagens?"
we retorted, "Not a Volkswagen in the bunch!"
the word spread. There was this new car club of people who actually
liked to drive their odd, old mini cars just for fun. Many new members
joined us because their marque-named group never did anything active
and existed only to produce a newsletter. Here was a group of adventurers
who enjoyed traveling in their delightful dinkies and in sharing
an occasional Sunday or weekend with other free-spirited auto enthusiasts.
date we have done day trips to Santa Cruz, the Roaring Camp and
Big Trees Railroad in Felton, the Sacramento Train Museum, the wine
country, and the Russian River area, with weekenders to various
lakes, the Pinnacles National Monument, and Las Vegas, to name but
a few. Our newsletters are infrequent and erratic, announcing only
the next run or overnighter with perhaps a bit on the previous event.
Our only official meeting is held around mid-February each year
inside the garage at Cowden Automotive in San Francisco. It's a
potluck business meeting and social held indoors due to uncertain
weather. Films are shown, brunch shared, wine drunk, parts swapped
and dues collected. No official hierarchy exists, but an election
is held to determine who will be stuck to reign as Most Benign Despot
by unanimous acquiescence for the following year. The February (or
thereabouts) organizational meeting is the best chance for members
to bring and display all of their rolling stock and to test drive
a fellow member's car around the block a few times for fun.
the years we have grown to an official membership of about 70 and
are proud to have included in our group, Fiat 500s and 600s, DKWs,
Citroën 2CVs, Crosleys, Mayflowers, Auto Unions, Isettas, Borgwards,
Subaru 360s, Peels, Messerschmitts, Amphicars, Facel Vegas, Siatas,
King Midgets, Rileys, Austin A-60s, Renault 4-CVs, Tatras, Topolinos,
Goggomobiles, Hillmans, Reliant Robin 3-Wheelers, and the like.
Members' cars range from pristine to rough, daily drivers, and works
in progress. And no one is ever laughed at for owning a car that
is not complete, original, or otherwise "correct." As
long as a car can be driven in, it's eligible for Arcane Auto Society
Doug McConnell and Bay Area
Backroads rides with the Arcane Auto Society to Fraizer Lake
more ongoing news and information, join our IO group