1928 Daniels Model 138 Brougham
Photo: CC Alden Jewell via Flickr.com
The internet has proven that there are automotive enthusiast groups for pretty much everything. (Even cars as inane as the Ford Tempo...) Recently, a friend introduced me to the rapidly expanding group known as The Brougham Society.
The word brougham (pronounced "broom") originally signified a horse drawn carriage where the rider sat in an enclosed cab, and the driver sat outside. The design carried over into the automotive age, but lost its original meaning as fully enclosed cars began to use the term. Eventually, "Brougham" was used both as a model name and trim level by various automakers.
Their enthusiasm encompasses all kinds of big American luxury cars, not just those with "Brougham" in the name. The main gathering place for the club is their Facebook group, where people from across the country (and the world) discuss their love of these vehicles. I recently spoke with the club's founder and president, Richard Bennett, about his group and its growing popularity.
The Brougham Society is an International Car Club that celebrates the traditional American luxury car from Postwar to roughly 2011, with a strong focus on the 1970's-1990's.
What does the name mean?
When I was creating TBS, I wanted a name that would evoke class and exclusivity, and after much thought, I decided that "The Brougham Society" had the right sound, and would set us apart from other car clubs.
Now TBS seems to be more of a 21st Century car club, in the sense that the community is connected mostly online via Facebook, and members aren't required to pay dues or attend meetings, right?
Yes, that is correct.
Each week the Facebook group has a different theme. How exactly does this work?
Our weekly themes are my way of keeping things fresh. Usually we focus on a particular Make, but on occasion I will shine the spotlight on a particular style of car, say, coupes. I have to always look for different ways of presenting various Themes, lest things become too predictable, and so far the Membership loves it!
In this day and age, the Internet has made it possible for one to find an enthusiast group for virtually anything. Before I started TBS, I did a little research and discovered that this corner of the car world was not well represented, so I took the opportunity to do something about it. Once word began to spread, the number of people that still love these cars amazed me!
Before I found TBS, I thought I was weird because I love big old American land yachts just as much if not more than muscle cars. Now I realize there are thousands of people just like me. Why do you think the brougham community is so big?
Brougham is a style that we most likely will never see again. I suspect that the combination of stately, elegant styling and luxurious, over-the-top interiors, combined with the smooth, quiet ride still speaks to many today. I know that's why I love them so much.
From looking at your Facebook posts, it appears that you travel a lot, and take a lot of photos of the cars you see along the way. It's almost as if you're a birdwatcher except with old cars! What started this hobby?
Traveling is something I have loved ever since I was young. I always looked forward to summer road trips with my parents. When I was a teen I was given a nice Pentax camera for Christmas, and from there began my love for photography. As for shooting cars I see when I am out and about, I have to credit Paul Niedermeyer of Curbside Classic for inspiring me to start searching for cars to photograph.
It could be said that I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to various internet chatrooms and forums, and I wanted to do something different. I am a firm believer that to live and be a part of the "Brougham Way of Life", one should conduct themselves in a manner that is befitting a Brougham, meaning that we are generally well educated, and above what I consider to be childish immaturity. Now, lest one think we are a bunch of snobs, I would like to make it clear that we are much more than a forum. I always make it clear that we are more like a community, and with that I welcome hearing from people when they are celebrating milestones in life, or are going through various trials. If I don't treat the Members well, then there is no Brougham Society.
Do you think this community, not just TBS, but brougham enthusiasts general, is growing?
It would appear so. Since I created TBS in early 2013, we have had a number of competing groups form. I attend a number of car shows every year, and the number of brougham type autos are increasing at the shows, and I always watch people as they gather around them, and more often than not, the comments from them are positive.
TBS is only getting started! Here in Michigan, where we are based, I plan events throughout the year. The events usually consist of breakfast meetups, though our last one was a dinner meeting, with an impromptu car show out in the parking lot. Several months ago I appointed Members from around the country, and in other parts of the world to be "Regional Directors". They were selected due to their enthusiasm and involvement within TBS. The role they play is to be willing to head up regional meetups for other Members in their given area.
Eventually, once time and finances permit, I would like to expand into hosting actual car shows that include judging and awards. Also, with our Brand equity, I foresee us one day getting into philanthropic work. There is so much that we as a movement can do, not only to spark a Brougham revival, but to allow us to be a greater good for society, thereby proving that to live the Brougham Way of Life, we can influence, inspire, and help our fellow man.