Keeping the ‘Dead’ Alive: a peek under the hood of local car club culture

Bub and his son at the Rose City Roundup 2015

Bub and his son at the Rose City Roundup 2015

Car clubs have evolved over the years, just like cars have. A car club, in the traditional sense, is a group of automotive enthusiasts that share a specific interest. This interest can be the make of car, era of car or even style of car. Most are non- profits that use their collective passion for road relics to raise money for charities. This is often done in the form of a ‘cruise in’ or car show. There have been many car clubs in the Pacific Northwest over the years, many of which are still active today in one way or another.

I had a chance to have a talk with Driven Dead car club president, Bub Johnson during their flagship event of the year; the Rose City Round Up. “The Driven Dead started out of Salt Lake (UT) but the Portland chapter here started around 2005,” he said. “We currently have 26 active members.” Each club has their own style or era of car that they celebrate. “Our club has pre ’64 American stock or custom cars.” He states the name Driven Dead came from the idea of members taking chassis that had fallen into disrepair over time and were ‘declared dead’ and resurrecting them back to the road. “We then drive the ‘once dead’ cars, so we are called the Driven Dead.”

When asked what car clubs mean to him, Johnson shared a piece of his history, “Family. Car clubs mean family.” Come to find out, Johnson’s mother, Joyce has been around car clubs in the Portland area for quite some time. She is even referred to as the ‘Hot Rod Lady’ and drives her beloved ‘Cherry Bomb’. Upon first glance of the Driven Dead and their fellow clubs, most members exude a style that some would describe as intimidating. Decked out in tattoos, piercings and often vintage clothing, this is a subculture that most don’t take the time to understand. Looking around the cruise-in however, there is an air of understanding and inclusion. These car clubs want to build a community and share passion felt for cars. “We are all about keeping car culture alive and having fun,” Johnson said. In full commitment of doing so, Bub has integrated his son into this world he so fondly grew up in. The Johnsons are just an example of what is sure to be many families that have committed themselves to car culture and have pledged to resurrect these car skeletons from the dead so that they can drive again.

The main logo for the Driven Dead is the casket. This is a marker that Bub put on his truck to signify that he is a member

The main logo for the Driven Dead is the casket. This is a marker that Bub put on his truck to signify that he is a member

Check out the Driven Dead website for more information at: www.drivendead.com

Or attend their annual cruise in, the Rose City Round Up.