Your First Car Meet: A Comprehensive Guide to Dos and Don'ts for an Unforgettable Meet Experience

20 Minutes

Joining a Car Meet

So you want to go for a car meet? It is best to prepare yourself for a world that many others genuinely do not understand. The car meets bring together enthusiasts of all types and backgrounds; for some, it may be an assault of all your senses. For others, it will be a happy and memorable experience. In either case, you are in for an adventure.

A point to note: Different clubs have different types and styles of meets. Every meet you go to will be different. Remember to check with the admins or previous meet attendees to learn more about the meets before you go. 

For example, our weekly Cult of Cars meets are purposely kept as a low-key affair. It is a more chill way to get into meets and really focuses on connection among attendees. This is because our goal is to foster a sense of community and strong bonds among enthusiasts and create an environment where everyone, especially newcomers, feels welcome. 

Other meets may be larger with a larger variety of people. In these larger meets, you are bound to see some cliques as it is usually a well-advertised event with many groups of friends turning up. So you do you. Choose a meet you'd like and just go for it. 

And since you have decided to take the plunge, here are 25 Do's and Don'ts for car meets.

1. Be Open to New Styles

The Car community is a very diverse one. Everyone has their own styles, preferences and favourites. And that is going to be on full display at car meets.

You are going to encounter the complete variety of car culture at car meets. It will be a melting pot of various styles and modifications.

Keep an open mind even if you are not inclined to certain things. Plenty of creativity and expertise went into the cars, so appreciate those cars as works of art.

Exploring and appreciating all these different styles will undoubtedly broaden your horizons. Some of the builds might even be an inspiration to you in a future car project of yours.

And the best way to immerse yourself is to:

2. Do: Ask Questions

Looking a little bit like a noob is going to happen during your first meet. And that is okay.

You may be a closet enthusiast who already knows a lot about cars or be entirely new to cars.

Either way, asking questions will get you places and the conversation flowing. Simple questions can move things along quickly.

Where do I start? What car is that (chances are they are nicely kitted out, so you could be forgiven for not recognising the model)? What mods are on this car? You will have a million questions, so you should ask away. You will never learn anything new if you don't ask questions or have deep, meaningful conversations, let alone make some new car friends.

Asking questions will be the main way you will make friends at meets. People are often happy to share their enthusiasm with you, so take advantage of it and learn away. You never know. Asking questions might even help influence the mods you want to do (for better or worse).

At Cult of Cars, we have members that are easily swayed by the mods we see and the conversations we have, as there are so many cool directions to take your car in. Learning about the mods and parts, installation, drawbacks, and downtimes will be very helpful before you build. So, don't be quiet or shy; ask many questions during your first car meet. And that is going to help you...

3. Do: Make New Friends

You are heading to car meets because you want to belong to the car community. This is the most important task you should check off your list... Make some friends!

Car meets are a magical place. They bring together what is usually seen as a fractured, polarised, and often volatile community. The car meets especially the variety kind, can be a great equaliser.

You are going to see supers, sports, modded, stock, JDMs, Contis, and even retro all in one place.

You can mingle with the Bugattis and the Ferraris or the heavily modded JDMs all under one roof (or night sky). Whatever your heart and inclinations tend towards, this level of variety will give you the best chance of making new friends, so you should take advantage of it.

Again, this is easier said than done, especially if you are skewed towards the introverted side. That being said, there are ways to break the ice with strangers at car meets.

The easiest way is to ask an owner about their car. If there is one thing car enthusiasts like, almost as much as driving their cars, it is talking about their cars. So, go ahead and explore the various sections. Check out the various cars and people.

Don't stand in a corner and be shy or ogle at the race queens who might be present. Venture forth, cover every car and break into genuine conversation with people, and you might find yourself having new friends by the end of the meet.

4. Do: Show Up Early

As the saying goes, the early car avoids the jam.

You want to enjoy your first meet and warm up slowly and ensure you have no pressure navigating your first meet.

And the best ways to do this? Arrive early. Going to the meet early means you can get a really nice spot.

In the larger or more open meets, earning a spot is crucial. The later it gets, the more crowded it can get. The crowd will make navigating difficult, especially once the car spotters get in on the action. These spotters can turn a quiet, low-key meet into one with massive crowds. The spotters congregate at the best spots and often near the entrance. This means they are sitting just at the right place to block your safe entrance perfectly.

Being early also allows you to have conversations with other early birds. No crowd pressure. Just a few car-loving people talking and sharing.

And last but not least, seeing your favourite cars sit stationary is great and all. But the fanfare they produce when arriving is different. Just watching them manoeuvre into a parking spot can still be satisfying. And you can only enjoy that in peace if you are early. So, set your alarm and calendars and be early. Park and camp away to see your favourite cars and talk to the owners. You can always stay till late because car meets never really end early, do they?

5. Do: Park Properly

Now, even though you are early and have access to the whole meet, it does not mean you can park anywhere, and anyhow you want to. Good parking etiquette might seem trivial, but it plays a role in the success of a car meet and how you are seen by others at the meet.

The last thing you want to be is the person who everything thinks parked like a maniac or dinked their car when they opened his.

So be good and follow the event guidelines for parking. If you are exhibiting, park within the space provided for you, backed in. If not, respect designated areas and ensure your car is parked so everyone can enjoy the meet.

When in doubt, ask the organisers and follow their instructions. They typically direct traffic to ensure you head to the correct designated locations. If they aren't, look at the lots and figure out the best and easiest one that suits your needs.

A word to the prideful: Parking between exotic cars is the worst time to be proud or shy. Ask anyone around, spotters, fellow meet attendees, or organisers to guide you in. Be mindful not to park on multiple lots - it makes you look inconsiderate when chilling beside your car.

6. Bring Water and Your Chairs

Okay, let's face it. Car meets, if done right, should be a long-drawn affair. They are going to be several hours long. They can get rather hot, and it is not the smartest thing in the world to idle your engine just for aircon so you can sit in your car. You are supposed to be either moving or standing near your car. But from time to time, you can take a break, too.

Here is where the chair comes in. Sitting and chilling beside your car is the very defining image of a Singaporean car meet. Outdoor car meets often extend over several hours. Staying hydrated is crucial; bringing portable chairs ensures a comfortable place to relax and enjoy the event. Staying well-hydrated and comfortable will lead you to enjoy the meet much more. So this is one of the easier and more practical tips to follow for your next car meet. Comfort is king, so you should also:

7. Dress Comfortably

Dress for the job you want... Wait, that's the wrong advice.

Car meets are a casual affair, so you would want to dress comfortably. And given Singapore's weather and our shorts and tee culture, you'd never be out of place in something simple and comfortable. In the bigger meet, you might be walking a bit or a bit wet, so you should consider shoes instead of flip-flops.

Remember to check the weather before deciding. And just in case, make sure you have an umbrella handy. It is Singapore, after all. If you are into photography, you should wear something that allows you to get low and run around easily.

And if you are exhibiting, you may want to match your car's colours to give off a well-executed vibe and attract some attention of the good kind. And speaking of dressing up...

8. Do: Bring Plenty of Detailing Supplies

Remember you aren't the only participant in the meet. If your car is on show, too, you will want it to keep looking its best. An immaculate car is a great way to get some eyeballs on you. Your car is not just a participant; it represents your dedication and passion. Giving your car a good wipe-down after arriving at the meet is always a good idea. It is also a great idea to wipe the car down occasionally, especially if many people put their hands on your car. Handprints and dirt will ruin pictures, so be on the lookout for them.

What would be good to bring?

It does not need to be complicated or require a complete kit. Some water, a spray-on detailer and a good quality microfiber towel will do, assuming you send it for a thorough detailing before the meet and to keep naughty kids away from your car.

9. Do: Bring the Whole Family

It may not look like it, but car meets can be really friendly to family and, in some cases, even pets.

While it's true that your family might not share the same level of passion for you and your car, that doesn't mean they can't bond or even have fun with you.

You can even get your kids away from screen time and interested in cars (or at least influence them). At the very worst, it will be a memorable event for the whole family. Maybe your significant other will finally understand what it is all about.

Speaking of memories...

10. Do: Take Lots of Pictures

Or maybe even some Tiktoks. Show your love of cars and your passion for the cars that are present by documenting and celebrating them with pictures (and videos). After all, a picture speaks a thousand words.

If you are there with your family, it will be an excellent way to snapshot some of the fantastic memories. Whatever your objective may be... Be it to launch your own page (Insta, TikTok or Youtube), to keep a record of your memories or to store new ideas for your next build, taking pictures at your first car meet will be an exciting endeavour.

And don't worry about taking photos of other people's cars. You can always ask for permission if the owner is around. Just be aware. Car owners at car meets are generally friendly and open. But occasionally, you may get some private individuals against sharing their car and plates. If they stop you, respect them and move on. That said, most owners are okay with you taking pictures. They know you love cars, and let's be honest, they do want to showcase their cars, too.

If you are exhibiting, remember to allow for pictures but also:

11. Do: Support Vendors (If You Can and Want To)

Sometimes, you can find some fantastic deals or something new or something cool at car meets from vendors you have never heard of or seen before.

Product or service demos and sponsor booths and exhibits occasionally happen in car meets especially bigger ones.

However, just because they are at the meet does not mean they are reasonable, useful or suited for a car. Just like other products, do your research before buying them. Ask plenty of questions, and don't be pressured by salespeople or others buying them.

While your spending goes a long way in supporting our community, You should not feel pressured to buy. If you love it, feel it is a good deal or want to support it, buy something. If not, there is no harm in just walking away, even after a demo and many questions, because ultimately, you are here to...

12. Do: Have Fun!

Yes, we kept the most important do for last. You are at a car meet, and the goal is to have fun.

Yes, it might be stressful (especially if you are an introvert), but you are here to enjoy something near and dear to you. It is easy to get lost in the things to do, things to bring, and notes to keep track of, but ultimately, car meets are about enjoyment.

Having fun is the reason you want to go to a meet in the first place. Cars are meant to be enjoyed, and this gathering of car lovers is intended to share their passion with others.

Yes, we gearheads are proud of our cars. Yes, we can take it too far or be too serious about it, but at the end of the day, it must be about fun and loving these beautiful machines. That's all a meet ever is. And whenever someone triggers you, chill and move on to another car. You are here to enjoy and have fun. You'll be fine if you remember that and don't engage in any of the don'ts. Let loose, appreciate the passion around you, and have a blast! When you embrace the fun side of car meets, it contributes to a positive, vibrant and memorable atmosphere for all.

And speaking of don'ts...

13. Don't Feel Intimidated Attending Your First Meet

Don't be afraid or intimidated. The cars can sense it. Okay. Kidding. But you really have nothing to worry about. In most cases, the people in the car community are nice and friendly. While some bad and/or strange actors will exist, the car community is built on shared passion and mutual respect.

While there may be a few cliques around, newcomers are always welcome. You are, after all, passionate about cars and are here to learn more about various cars, makes, models and builds. And to make friends.

Don't be afraid to introduce yourself and let your enthusiasm shine. Overcoming initial hesitations and interacting will make you lifelong friends and form the foundation for many adventures with your fellow enthusiasts.

14. Don't Touch Other People's Cars Without Their Permission

This one is UNIVERSAL. At every car meet, in every corner of the world, no one ever likes someone touching other people's cars without their permission. While kids will get a nice frown to do so as an adult might be asking for trouble. You might have the best of intentions. Or you are just overjoyed and cannot control yourself.

Whatever it may be, please control yourself. There are countless stories of ruined paintworks, dents and other more sinister acts. And you don't want to be a villain in the retelling. If you want to get close or touch things, the least you can do is ask for permission, even if it is to get close for a picture.

If you want to get into the car, ensure you are clean and ask nicely. And be very careful when getting into the car. If they say no, thank them and walk away. It is their baby, after all.

15. Don't be noisy (No Pops, Bangs, and Rev-Offs)

As car enthusiasts, we often want to express what our cars are made of. Popping, banging and revving are some of those ways. In some cases, these may evolve into rev-offs.

What are rev-offs?

They are crazy battles which typically start with people arguing over whose car has the better-sounding or louder exhaust system. But let's be real; neither of these things actually matters. Although, I have to say, when flames start shooting out of the exhaust, that's pretty freakin' nifty! They are also a decent way to get others to complain and for the police to arrive and shut the whole meet down. Trust us, we get it. The urge and the itch. But think about it. The noise hinders the experience of others, and while showing off is great, you don't want to be the guy who got a meet shut down.

Singapore isn't the most car-friendly country, so we have to find ways to co-exist with the non-car people. In our case, we aim to have a more engaging and wholesome meet, so we don't even allow pops and bangs at our meet.

Even if you don't start something, if you see something, you can do your part by...

16. Don't do stunts

You are not here to show off your driving skills. Even if you are a professional stuntman, someone else car meet isn't the right place to show off what trickery and infinite donuts-ary you can do with your car. What is more, this can often lead to a loss of control and end up hurting people or damaging property. You are not going to feel great if someone ends up injured. And at the very least, you will leave a mess in the parking lot.

Save spirited driving for controlled environments. You want to save the stunts, perhaps a track day or Gymkhanas. Doing donuts in a crowded parking lot poses great danger and can spoil the event or hurt others.

Respect the venue and the safety of attendees.

17. Don't Get Into Arguments

What is the point, really? A friendly debate or a bit of banter is fine. Everyone is there to see and experience different cars. To make friends. No one goes to car meets to evangelise for manuals over autos (manuals are the best, to be honest) or stock over mods. You like what you like. But the same can be said for someone else.

If, at the end of the day, you can civilly walk away, agreeing to disagree or open to changing your point of view, that would be the best scenario. Go ahead and have a pleasant conversation.

If not, move along. There is no real reason to escalate matters into an argument. Or worse...

18. Don't Start a Race

This is a car meet. It's not an F1, drag or drift race event. And car meets are not the place for impromptu races. People turn up at car meets to enjoy and discuss cars, not to massage their egos, compare engine sizes or play top trumps. Save the need for speed for controlled environments. Again, we get it. But racing is illegal and sometimes dangerous, especially when egos are bruised, and pride is on the line. Racing at a car meet poses significant safety risks and goes against the event's purpose: to showcase and appreciate cars in a pleasant and open setting. Nothing is wrong with walking away from egotistical people. Don't put yourself at risk with the law or be the one who drags others into it just because of a few words spoken incorrectly.

19. Don't Encourage Unacceptable Behaviour

Whether it is getting into rev-offs, arguing about cars or, in some very weird cases, getting into impromptu races or fights. Another common way is to crowd at the exits or chant for a car owner to do something stupid in the meet.

Do not be one of those people who encourages these kinds of things. We have all seen the type. The kind of people that get increasingly rowdy when they are egged on by others. Their actions can get riskier and riskier, and while inherently dangerous for the drivers, they can sometimes get out of control and can end up hurting spectators as well.

On top of that, should something go wrong, it can also put the organisers and the meet itself at present risk and might get them into long-term trouble and closure.

20. Don't Complain About Other Cars in Attendance

If you don't like something and are close-minded or strongly opinionated, move on. This is great advice for life but more so for car meets.

Diversity is the essence of many a car meet.

The more variety or non-brand/model specific a meet is (like our Cult of Car meets), the more you will have many people of different tastes and different proclivities turning up. And that is what makes car communities unique and fun.

Instead of complaining, appreciate the variety of cars on display. Because no one really wants to hear your complaining. It is okay if you are upset or insulted, but by complaining, you are also ruining the experience for others who may be open-minded or even like the things you dislike.

Respecting the diverse preferences within the car community fosters a positive atmosphere. After all, looks and style are as subjective as fashion in many ways. Thanks to all the car haters (and some powerful forces), the community already does not have a great name. We want to see more inclusivity in meets. Be kind, be friendly, be gentle and be open. We could do with less hate/complaining within our beloved community.

21. Don't Disrespect Event Organisers or Other Participants

Organising a car meet is a labour of love and requires a lot of work. Even when meets are meant to be simple, one small thing can greatly affect the entire event. That is the nature of events. So please respect the rules set by the event organisers. They are put in place for a reason.

If you are unhappy about something, bring it up to the organiser. Most will accept feedback or at least explain their views. Again, if it doesn't suit you, move on. It is their event, after all.

On the point of respect, do appreciate, and not disrespect, the efforts of fellow participants as well. They make a lot of effort to prepare the car for the meet. So even if you don't like what you see, don't outright disrespect or call them out. As usual, move on to something you might like.

A healthy respect for rules and a respectful attitude keeps the community together and thriving. Don't be that disrespectful person who ruins things for others.

22. Don't Lie About Your Car's Specs

Well, this is a big one. And to some, it may be controversial. In a world of body kits, mods and upbadging are common, lying about your specs is just one step too far. You want to build friends in the community. Honesty is the cornerstone of building a trust that forges bonds and builds friendships. And there is little to gain from lying. Be truthful about your car and its modifications. And most people will accept you for who you are. If they don't, they aren't the kind of people you want to hang out with anyway. We should value authenticity as a car community, and being honest and truthful goes a long way in building credibility and friendships within the community.

23. Don't Trash the Venue

Singapore is a clean and green society. But more than that, we need to be civil and considerate. More than just dumping thrash, though, do not damage anything in the venue. Car meets are usually held in public carparks or private event spaces. As car meet organisers, we can tell you with certainty that car meet locations are difficult to find.

Suppose a venue is thrashed (either by unruly behaviours or by actual rubbish). In that case, the organisers will either have to put things right or, if they can't, lose the possibility of ever holding events in that location.

As you might agree, that would not be great for anyone. Let's be more civic (or even a bit Japanese) and dispose of our trash responsibly. Leaving the venue clean ensures a positive impression for future events. After all, a car meet's success depends on the collaborative effort from all, especially to maintain a positive reputation. It is great for the community and maintains a good relationship between event organisers and venue owners.

24. Don't Block Car Spotters (Photographers or Videographers)

Car spotters are a thing in car meets. You can understand why. So many beautiful machines gather in one spot just to be on display. It is as close to heaven for automotive photographers. They would be eager to capture stunning shots of the fabulous vehicles on display.

While they might cause a bit of an issue with crowding and rushing, you should still look out for them. The least you can do is not block them. It would be nice if you could avoid parking or lingering in areas that obstruct the photographers' views. Please allow them to work freely. They are a critical part of the community that ensures that the beauty and essence of the cars and the events are well captured in high-quality images. You can even ask them to share or introduce you to interesting cars or owners.

These photographers would often be able to guide you to the most awesome of cars, having taken photos of most of them. Respecting the space and needs of photographers contributes to the collaborative spirit of the car community. This usually helps the publicity of our car community events and gives people who missed the event a chance to enjoy it vicariously online. So, please do your part and help them get the perfect shot by getting out of their way.

25. Don't Stop Going

Sometimes it doesn't work out. Wrong meet, wrong crowd, weird encounters or maybe you just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

But one lousy encounter should not stop you from going to other car meets. Meet other organisers, go to other meets and meet more varieties of car owners before you decide which car meets are for or not for you. As we said, it takes time to find your perfect home. Looking for your car family is a journey. Do not give up after your first bad experience. All we can say is that it will feel amazing when you find your car family. So keep going and keep hunting. With enough time, you will eventually find your car family. And if you've yet to find one, we're extending our hand to you to join our family!

That's all, folks. And there you have it, just a few things to note before you head to your first car meet.

Just be relaxed, be yourself, and take your time. Make friends and find a place you belong to. Most importantly, have lots of fun.

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