Youth and Old Cars

I am not alone in my concern for the future for older vehicles when this generation of owners and mechanics fades away.

If you notice, many publications have obituaries of long standing car friends. I wonder what happens to their historic vehicles. Not enough of the children or grandchildren care – or seem to have the “connection” or want to be bothered. You see, it is our hobby not theirs.

I see Hagerty Insurance has identified this issue. Their website says:

“Hagerty is dedicated to helping ensure the future of the classic car hobby by Driving the Passion for Classics and providing young people unique access to classic car related experiences through various youth services with our Youth Advocacy Program.

Since 2007, more than 3,000 people age 25 and under have participated in the Hagerty Youth Advocacy Program to gain insider access to the classic car and boat hobby. Hagerty provides these youth services as a way of ‘giving back’ to the classic car industry to support and encourage the next generation of car enthusiasts and collectors.” (

I see a very few young people at cars shows and cruise events. Every once-in-a-while I do talk to a young person who is actively restoring a car/truck but how many will take over the special vehicle and give it the care it needs so it will be around 50 years from now? My guess is not too many.

I have looked for places where restoration training might be available – but the trade schools seem to be pointed mostly at careers in industry and that involves Information Technology mostly.

I went to a dealer the other day in my old car to buy some oil filters. Some of the mechanics wanted to see the engine. When I lifted the hood one pointed at the generator and asked if that was the air conditioning pump. So the gap is really wide these days and getting wider.

It isn’t all that bad of course – today’s cars are amazingly reliable – unless you think about 50 or even 20 years from now and try to visualize today’s mechanics working on yesterday’s cars. Or today’s young owners and the rapidly evolving technology world they enjoy – very few will develop the bond our generation developed learning how to repair and maintain these vehicles when we were young.

I think the restoration and preservation of these older vehicles can provide a significant number of careers – Hagerty must think so too.

Where will the training come from? When I was a teenager, the corner garage usually had a mechanic and an apprentice. That training ground – the conduit for future mechanics – is all but gone now too.

Many of today’s older car owners – who know a lot about older cars – have an opportunity here, they could become mentors somehow. Maybe the car clubs can offer an enticing opportunity to get young people involved.

I wouldn’t be surprised that if more young people knew there were career opportunities and training was available, they would step up.

In the big picture, we are not so much the owners as we are the custodians of this part of our transportation history – for that we have a responsibility.