J ES MON D RE MEMBERS WHAT IS WAS LIKE WANTING TO OWN THE COOL EST CAR IN THE SCHOOL CAR PARK
Ever since I was a little kid — which really wasn’t all that long ago — I dreamt of having the coolest car in high school. And who hasn’t? We have all dreamt of pulling into the high-school parking lot with a car that no one else has, with that subtle-but-noticeable rumble, a nice set of wheels, and good shine.
There’s no doubt that we all had a clear picture of what we wanted that car to be, and I was no exception — mine was a 1986 Ford Sierra Cosworth. I wanted that car so badly that I started working from a very early age to try to achieve the car of my dreams. Naturally, I didn’t reach my goal at the time, so I settled for a 1965 VW Beetle modified with a non-standard 1600cc Variant engine. It was a cool-looking car and had a sweet Pioneer stereo and amplifier with lots of bass to attract the opposite sex … or so we young boys thought at the time.
I felt like I had ‘arrived’ when I bought this car. I couldn’t wait to get my licence so that I could drive it solo without my dad breathing down my neck, to take my friends out for a drive and impress the girls. But, man, was I wrong! This car was so expensive to maintain that I might as well have slit the roof open and inserted my pay packet every Friday evening, because it took all my weekly earnings, and more.
I thought for sure that I would have the coolest car in high school, and while some thought the car was “neat”, I viewed it in a totally different light, and, in some ways, I couldn’t wait to get rid of it.
This heavily modified car was nothing but a nicely polished piece of junk. It was cheaper and safer to take the bus. Yet, I did love it and put much work into it to keep it on the road, but, for some reason, I could never make it reliable — not with my limited resources at the time, anyway.
My friends and family scoffed at the gas mileage and the car’s reliability, but the biggest criticism they had of the car, which, to this day, I still cannot understand, is that the car only had two doors. It was as if they believed I was committing some kind of immoral act by not having an ample amount of door. I mean, since when was the coolest car in the school parking lot a people mover?!
The biggest problem that the world of classic cars faces today is that young people seem rather detached when it comes to any car five years old or older. I think a lot of this has to do with the way technology is constantly changing. Apple comes out with some new iphone every year or so, and gaming companies are constantly coming out with new games. Millennials have been trained to get the latest and greatest product, and anything over a few years old is considered worthless. And, for some items, I guess that’s important, because you want to have a computer that can support the latest software or a gaming console that allows you to connect with friends. Though, beyond those sorts of reasons, the need for brand new products is completely unfounded, and the classic car community will suffer because of it. There’s a need to master how to retain our values and nurture our relationships.
The classic car community has a responsibility to help this generation of millennials understand what this passion is all about. It’s not about a constant flow of new technology; it’s about soul. It’s that feeling you get from driving down the road in a classic car, of being one with the car and not having an electrical barrier in between. It’s the feeling of satisfaction that one gets after an issue with your car has finally been fixed. It’s the clean lines of the car that just look better than the uninteresting styling of some cars today.
After many attempts at trying to explain to my family and friends why my first car was great, I realized something: if you don’t get it, you just don’t get it! Until you have experienced being behind the wheel of a classic car, until you have heard the perfect exhaust note deep in your soul, until you have spent those long nights in the garage with grease up to your elbows, you just won’t get it.
So, I end with this: to keep the classic car culture thriving, consider inviting someone young to work on your car with you — your kid, your neighbour’s kid, your nephew, your niece, your grandkid. Teach them how to tune a carburettor or replace drum brakes — teach them anything. And, when you’re done, take them for a ride. Not just around the block, but a ride down a back-country road or on the motorway. Watch their smiles get bigger and bigger as the exhaust note gets louder and louder. Make it a ride that they will want to remember — forever. Simply put, help them ‘get it’. Until next time, safe driving.