Dear Autopian Members, we have some exciting news: We’re one year in and we’re going to start ratcheting up the member experience. How are we going to do that? Well, for one, the chance of your car ending up on the hallowed (/s) pages of this website are going up substantially. Two, we’re going to offer trivia for all. And three, there will be merch. NEW merch. Here, allow us to explain.
Membership here at The Autopian is an essential pillar of our business, so for those of you who are members: We cannot possibly thank you enough! Our biggest ask is: Do nothing. You’re about to start getting emails if you signed up in December reminding you of impending renewal. If you can, please continue supporting our team and our community and allow it to renew.
If you don’t have an auto-renew set, please consider renewing by clicking here and following the process. If you do, we’re going to send you even more stuff you love. And if aren’t a current member and want to support a site you often read: Please consider joining!
When Jason, Beau and I started the site over 18 months ago, we penned a #1 rule — one that we would not break under any circumstances: Keep the main thing the main thing. And the main thing is getting great content onto that front page. Everything else is secondary.
And so, each day, we — along with the new crew of talented writers around here — focus on just that. We make sure we get a dozen or so stories on the page that fulfill the Double-E promise:
Each story must be entertaining or sufficiently enlightening (educational), ideally both.
But while all may be quiet on the front page, behind the scenes things are crazy, as a small crew works endlessly to further raise this new media company onto an even stabler foundation that can continue for many years to crank out great automotive stories for you, dear readers. Much of the craziness has to do with membership, which we consider one of our top priorities given how important it is to our site’s revenue model. Jason has aged 50 years in the past year making birthday drawings for Velour members. Check these things out; they’re amazing:
We’ve been dealing with all sorts of fun logistical issues related to fulfillment of merchandise and we’re always rushing to get membership emails out — it’s crazy, but it’s worth it. Not just for our outlook as a site, but because you members are the most loyal, wacky, fun group, and we want to make you all happy. So to that end, we’re going to offer a trivia night to ALL members on Wednesday, November 15th! That’s a week from tomorrow!
In addition, The Autopian will start cranking out weekly Member Rides, highlighting the cars (and builds!) of our members, with freelancer Stef Schrader leading the charge on the weekly pieces. If you’d like a chance for your ride to be featured on our pages you’ll get an email in your inbox. And thank you to all the members who already have.
On top of that, we’ll be sending current members and new members some fun merch. Let’s start with returning members and then get to new members.
What You Get For Renewing
Hi, it’s Matt here, taking over this blog.
If you are a new or returning annual Vinyl, Velour, or Royal Corinthian Leather member, you will get the fancy new shirt below when you renew your annual membership! This is the Series II shirt, and we’re hopefully smart enough to not put a date on it like we did last time (those of you with a ’22 Autopian shirt have a collector’s item).
Our goal is to do new shirts every year so that you can have a collection. The longer you are a member the more shirts you get. Our plan is to never sell these shirts outside of our membership.
This year’s shirt is based on a Lego set Jason wrote about a while back! Also, say hi to his son Otto:
If you’re a monthly member and switch to the annual plan, you’ll also get a shirt. If you’re a monthly member and prefer to stay monthly, that’s cool, we’ll send you a shirt approximately after the 13th month since you started being a member (this is an accounting/fulfillment thing).
Renewing annual/monthly will also get a very special surprise. We’re partnering with the amazing Leen Customs to create custom pins covering a variety of cars we have featured on the site (you’ll see them soon). If you’re Vinyl you’ll get one of those pins, if you’re Velour you’ll get two, and if you’re RCL you’ll get all four collectible, numbered pins.
By the way, here’s how a cool Porsche pin looks (note, this pin is one given out by Porsche Santa Clarita, part of Autopian cofounder Beau’s Galpin dealership franchise. It’s not one of the four pins we’re offering — just an example of how cool these are):
What You Get For Being A New Member
Here’s a quick walkthrough reminder of our membership levels (you can see the cool seat graphics and full descriptions here):
- Access to Member’s Only Posts (like this one about the grammar errors the Autopian staff is currently struggling with and this one about the article our EIC David didn’t want us to write).
- Private access in Autopian Discord, which has over 500 readers nerdily talking about cars daily
- Discounts on events
- Everything in Cloth, plus…
- A new, limited edition Members Only bumper sticker (See above)
- A limited edition Members Only shirt
- Everything in Cloth+Vinyl, plus…
- A custom grille badge for your car
- Invites to a quarterly virtual trivia night
- A Jason drawing on your birthday
- Rich Corinthian Leather
- Everything in Cloth+Vinyl+Velour
- A private tour of the Galpin Auto Sports car collection or participating museum.
- Rust from David
- Quarterly merch drops
- Foreign Legion (click this link to learn more about this option for non-North America-based folks).
What About The Birthday Drawings?
Here’s the compromise we’ve come up with to save Jason. If you’re a new Velour or RCL member, you get the drawing of whatever car you want. Custom. From Jason himself.
If you’re a returning Velour or RCL member, every year you’re going to get a new custom drawing, but it’s going to be something Jason creates with the help of one of his ridiculous old computers. This year you’ll get your very own robot and robot name, created by Jason, who hand-drew a bunch of unique elements that one of his old Apple IIs will randomize and put together, making you a unique bit of Jason/computer-generated art.
Hey, Jason here, I want to explain these unique 8-bit generated robots!
Because I’m kind of excited about these, and not just because they’re going to keep me from committing seppuku with an Apple Pencil, which I really don’t want to do, especially if I have to make sure it’s fully charged first. So, here’s why I’m doing this: I really want members to have something that I’ve personally made, because I just like that sort of connection. But I can barely keep up with new member drawings, let alone recurring. So, this is a compromise I think will work.
I’ve hand-drawn a bunch of robot parts – heads, bodies, lower bits – all by hand, with a clunky old analog joystick, in big chunky old pixels, on an original old Apple II. I’ve written a program in BASIC that will randomize elements and assemble a unique robot, just for you! I still need to write the randomized name generator, but I’ll get to that. Here’s what some sample ones look like:
To get the pictures to you, this is where it gets fun: since the Apple II is real hardware, I can’t just copy/paste the generated image and slap it in an email. Instead, I have a camera on a tripod, with the shutter wired to the Apple II’s game port. I can send a signal to the game port that will click the shutter, and boom, you have your special, just-for-you Torchbot!
So, you’ll still get a unique bit of art-like imagery just for your birthday! I’m just going to be using some archaic 8-bit hardware to help me out!
And, while I’m here, let me just take a moment to explain something to all of our members: holy crap, do I appreciate you. I mean it, I really do. It means so very much to me to know there’s people out there who share the same deep and occasionally alarming interest in cars, and want, or, really, need a place in their life where they can read and learn and experience and discuss all the strange joys and pains and wonderment of This Automotive Life, and have become part of our community as a result.
It’s amazing! I look at the comments and see clever, funny, bright, insightful people discussing car-things in ways that you just don’t find anywhere else online. This place has exceeded my every hope in how it has become an oasis of fantastic people in this murky miasma of the internet, and it’s all because of you.
The fact that so many of you have decided to join up, to send a bit of your hard-earned money our way so we can keep doing this, that’s astounding. It’s so easy for people to gripe or fling shade online, but to contribute in a positive way, or to actually join and put something into a place you care about? That’s a huge deal.
Thank you. To each and every member. Thank you for being part of this, for continuing to be a part of this, for giving a damn and helping to make something real. It means so much to all of us, and we’re going to do all we can to make sure you feel valued and welcome here, always.