Cambridge University Automobile Club was founded in 1902 and initially maintained a club room and a garage for its members (at 22A Jesus Lane for at least the period 1904-1908). It organised competitive hill climbs, for which there were two trophies (the Rothschild Challenge Cup and the Garnett-Botfield Challenge Cup for Motor Cycles), and was involved in inter-varsity races. The club was active until 1910 when it voted to suspend activities citing a lack of "ordinary" (i.e. undergraduate) members. A short-lived revival of the club in 1914 and a more successful venture in 1919 were considered to be refoundings, with the latter under the name of "Cambridge University Motorcycle Club". However, in 1926 the original society was formally wound up whereupon its trophies were presented to the motorcycle club and the remaining monetary assets were donated to fund the "Ricardo Prize" for distinction in thermodynamics in part II of the Engineering Tripos.
Luckily, by 1926 the increasing predominance of car owners in the motorcycle club and the receipt of the old club's trophies prompted a return to the name of Automobile Club in continuation of the organisation. The club continued to progress and, following the hiatus on motorsport of the second world war, organised the first post-war race in Britain in 1947 at Grandsden Lodge (chronicled further at The 500 Owners Association). Since then the club has remained a part of the university to varying extents, seeing further close brushes with dissolution as any long-running society will. Today the club continues to thrive with regular events and a subscription of over 300 people: members and staff of the university as well as graduates and locals in the Cambridge area.
However, the social changes of the last century have deeply changed the character of CUAC since its formation. The increased availability of high-quality education all over the world and the corresponding opening of Cambridge's doors to the smart and talented, rather than the rich and well-connected, has much diversified the club. Where the 1910 Varsity race saw entry from the 5th Viscount Exmouth and D.J. Werhner, heir to the Luton Hoo estate; today's competitors bear no such titles and are more often than not the poorest students around, having spent all the money they can find going racing!
Notable early alumni include the banking brothers Anthony Gustav and Lionel Nathan de Rothschild, the mechanical engineer Harry Ralph Ricardo (father of multinational automotive engineering consultancy Ricardo Plc), and the educationist (later Master of Corpus Christi College) William Spens. Additionally, the engineer and Proctor Frederick James Dykes was president in 1908 and secretary in the late 1920s.