Where have all the car hobbyists gone?
What Has Changed
Cars are not what they used to be. Today’s production models are truly near if not completely ugly; have become almost devoid of unique styling. Although offering a plethora of creature comforts and truly innovative safety features only a few have the wow of the cars of yesteryear. And many of the ones that do catch eyes have a huge reminiscence to those road warriors we drove when they were new on the scene. You know them, those great iron sculptures sitting in our garages. The personally priceless time machines we sacrificed, scrimped and saved up the money for so we could with great pride sit in, and occasionally start up and cruise around in the neighborhood that magically transforms to the cars actual era. They really give us more of an air of accomplishment that anything else, but aren’t accomplishments something to feel good about?
As cars go, the vehicles of the last twenty years are mechanical and electronic nightmares. The hype and hysteria of recent ages have changed so much of the car that to have one is like the unlucky guy or gal who has an incurable and deadly disease. It is a constant worry, requires highly specialized treatments, drains you of precious resources, and in the end, will usually die of internal component failure rather than of old age. No wonder those who grow up with these realities have few if any attachments. Loss is easier to ignore if you don’t get attached in the first place. Cars just don’t stick around long enough garner great appreciation. So, the youth of today turn to other stimulating experiences. From my perspective, the young have been short changed because their excitement are seemingly body-centric which leads to seeking ever so fleeting shallow pleasures. Instant gratification if you will. I have been told I was crazy – by youngsters- to have spent seven and half years on a car restoration. Yet, I can savor every moment of agony, disdain, frustration, pain, elation, and a still unending pride in the accomplishment. I can only hope the kids of today can get a fraction of any of that from mindless music, crippled moral senses, social relativism, and aimless dabbling in fruitless endeavors. For those of us that understand, simplicity, clarity, and what it is to smack a knuckle on a tire rim, I needn’t say more.
Is There Hope?
Is there a cure for our poor trapped kids? Well, there has to be. Truly the answers will not be universal – not the same for everyone. I have spent nearly five decades in educating young and old alike, but mostly the young. In all that time the thousands of youngsters I have dealt with exhibited no differences in curiosity, eagerness to learn, potential to exemplify great patience and learning, or to show and give appreciation. What I have noticed is a change in the adults around them have changed their expectations of the youngsters. And so, as kid will do, please the adults in their lives. In the absence of adults or when adults treat kids like adults, kids will then emulate and try to please the people they see as peers. The problem, the adults who have lost appreciation of their own lives will as adults are want to do, live their lives through their kids. What ensues is a vicious and destructive cycle of events that breaks down the rolls that once held kid as kids and adults as adults. Like the cars of today are so much alike, so are the adults and kids so much alike. Honestly, if you could ignore size and voice pitch, you can hardly tell one from the other today.
I suppose age, if these poor humans attain much, will impart some wisdom. But to watch the political scene today, there may not be much hope for old saws like “with age comes wisdom.” Yet, we have to know that everything comes in cycles. It is just that some are longer than others; it depends if you are riding on the end of the pendulum or, it has swung past you or, coming straight for you as to your perception of what will happen. I am certainly no more knowledgeable than anyone else. As such, I can make observations from a certain vantage point that is neither right or wrong.
So, you think I digress, but not so. Cars like everything will come and go, but their inspiring idea will return again and again. Some those ideas will not be worth keeping, but some will be, and there will always be someone who is different enough to be unique, not care about the trends, and cling like nobody’s business to something that is attractive and interesting; trying to hold onto it for dear life no matter what. The object of that affection is for us old cars. And those kids who never really change will have maybe one day their own obsession – just like us. We hope it will be something important like old cars, but that is not for us to say now is it. What we need to do is display our passion. Inspire those collectors of tomorrow not only with our collections, but the community that supports our commonality in appreciation, respect, sharing, mutual enjoyment, and if we can throw in the idea of cars, that would be a bonus.
We need to reach out, be visible, be proud, and to share our passion. Cars are like skydiving – not for everyone, but there is a following to be had. We just need to reach out and find it.