The sad demise of American car culture

Ron H

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One thing I suggest is when you're walking through a show and shine/cruise in whatever with your buddies. Take a minute to ask the young guy with the Ricer that is standing all alone something about his car. I always find these guys respectful and shocked that an old guy with an out of reach car (how he feels anyway) shows interest in his ride, you usually can't shut these guys up and they will always acknowledge you after that.
We as carguys were a bit of an outcast back in the 70's but it's much worse now, it's up to us to keep the interest up and the enthusiasts united.
Yeah, I can ask if it's a GTO. lol
 

Runcharger

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My son is 28 and has owned this car for 3 years. Of course he actually has a trade and works, bought his own house when he was 21 too. His friends are active with cars and JOBS as well. None of them live with their parents spending all their time on their phones.
I think alot of kids aren't brought up right these days. My parents didn't bring me up telling me I was entitled and could just do whatever made me happy. I was brought up to earn what you want and to go where the work was, whether that was out of town, working on weekends, doing the odd shitty job or whatever. I think there are a lot of young people mommied to death these days and it shows in the results.
Another thing, whenever my son had his friends over I would take whatever opportunity I could and take them for rides in the Road Runner or Hemi Coronet, it's our job to bring them into the culture and build the interest.

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sam dupont

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I had a chance to teach a Technology Class for Middle Schoolers. It was a school challenged by poor attendance. I thought about it seriously. Enough, that I came up with the idea to build a go-kart from scratch as part of the class. With a minimum attendance record, there would be race days in the parking lot the last few days of school.
 

XS22J8R

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I don’t know how it is in other parts of the country, but here the evening cruise nights are mostly populated with middle aged people.
The cars and coffee Saturday morning type events on the other hand, are mostly young people. Most of them drooling over exotics, but those are cars too, and these events are very popular.
A couple doors down there’s a teen living there and I see a late model Mustang GT in the driveway often and sometimes a Challenger parked out front, which I assume are the kids friends.
I hate to think what those kids pay for insurance!
We have a tendency to lump everyone together in groups, which is wrong. Of all the middle aged people I know at work and family etc what % are interested in special interest cars? 1, maybe 2%? I guess that means no one is interested in cars!?
If 1-2% of teens and young adults are interested in cars, nothing much has changed right? It doesn’t matter that the other 98% are not interested in cars.
 

Ron H

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Seems kids of Dad’s who are/were DIY’s gravitate to be similar, thinking of the younger gen people I know who are talented DIY types. Then know some who aren’t. No knock to them; but it bugs me to have shops – contractors do work I can do. You know, something goes to crap with the car or house and some are totally helpless in the meantime. Example is the built-in oven door when to crap, it was a hinge requiring taking apart/removing the door and such and ordering a replacement hinge. Friend of mine, a no fix-it type guy, says I would have just bought a new oven. WDH? Same deal when the built-in stove crapped out. Bought a new one at an appliance store and installed it after finding out replacing some of the parts for it would be as expensive as getting a new one. Some don’t want the hassle of doing the labor even though they could do the job and others just couldn’t imagine doing the job. Then I have friends that are handier yet than I am, some much younger. Now at my age, there are some jobs I won’t do anymore that at one time wouldn’t hesitate to do; but bugs me I have to let it be done. Remember my elders having to give up some chores as da body just isn't as capable anymore, like my dad when he could no longer crawl under the cabinet to replace a skanked faucet watching me do it, when used to be me watching him.
 

Xp29h

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I would love to know some kid that was interested in these classics. I have years of knowledge and parts that I could share.
It would be awesome for them to learn from you I’m sure. If you have the chance start a club at local JR high or HS. I’ve been thinking about that here..

Surprisingly many kids at school go crazy over the Charger when I take it. They surprise the hell out me! Knowing many of these young kids like I do, I would say now way in hell are they into these old classics but they are. They know what year it is, make, model, etc. They ask about the engine, what I’ve done to it all that good stuff. At first I was concerned about taking it but not now. It’s opened up great conversations and chances to teach them some stuff. I’ve written passes for them to get out of a study hall to come down and teach them some stuff they don’t see today. it’s been pretty cool!

It may not be as obvious as it once was, but many of these kids still love the old cars!
 

Garceau

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On the flip side of this argument.....

Last night I was sitting by my 66. An older fella mid 70s walked up and asked what it has for a motor.

I replied 440 (it's a stroked 440 but snyways)

He said "nope, too fast for me" and turned around and walked away..... I was left a little dumbfounded
 

patrick66

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I like car shows for several reasons. One of which is getting the little kids to experience the fun of an old car. If a young family with little kids (as opposed to feral cats on crack!) comes up to my car and show respect by not touching or crawling on it, I'll offer the parents a chance for their kids to get in and look around. Have them take a couple of pics so they can have a nice reminder of the day! There was this eight-year-old girl that was just oooh-ing and ahhh-ing my Imperial convertible at a recent show. I asked her if she wanted to sit in the driver seat and have her Mom take a pic of her at the wheel. The girl was all over that idea, so I opened the door while her Mom took a few pictures. The kid was so excited! I smiled, her mother thanked me for the opportunity, and they went on their way. Maybe I got her hooked into old cars, who knows? It was a fun day.
 

Ron H

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I like car shows for several reasons. One of which is getting the little kids to experience the fun of an old car. If a young family with little kids (as opposed to feral cats on crack!) comes up to my car and show respect by not touching or crawling on it, I'll offer the parents a chance for their kids to get in and look around. Have them take a couple of pics so they can have a nice reminder of the day! There was this eight-year-old girl that was just oooh-ing and ahhh-ing my Imperial convertible at a recent show. I asked her if she wanted to sit in the driver seat and have her Mom take a pic of her at the wheel. The girl was all over that idea, so I opened the door while her Mom took a few pictures. The kid was so excited! I smiled, her mother thanked me for the opportunity, and they went on their way. Maybe I got her hooked into old cars, who knows? It was a fun day.
That is a nice idea. On rare occasions I’ve had people ask to sit in my car and never turned them down. Often find grampa’s holding their grandkids up to look inside the car as my ’63 has the pushbutton trans and grandpa is reminiscing about when he or his folks had one or remembered them in his youth. Something these kids likely have never seen or knew about. Same deal with a 4-speed. The concern of course is doing some damage or getting something scuffed, about the only thing I could imagine being a bitch is grabbing the turn signal lever breaking it off, lol.

Anyway, yes can imagine how it might make a kid’s, or their parent’s day at a car show to take a few photos of their kid in an old ride. Never gave it a thought. I have a pic of my daughter when she around 3 sitting in the driver’s seat of the Vette shortly before I sold it. When I come across that photo every few years, I still get a kick looking at it.
 

Cheapsunglasses

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That is a nice idea. On rare occasions I’ve had people ask to sit in my car and never turned them down. Often find grampa’s holding their grandkids up to look inside the car as my ’63 has the pushbutton trans and grandpa is reminiscing about when he or his folks had one or remembered them in his youth. Something these kids likely have never seen or knew about. Same deal with a 4-speed. The concern of course is doing some damage or getting something scuffed, about the only thing I could imagine being a bitch is grabbing the turn signal lever breaking it off, lol.

Anyway, yes can imagine how it might make a kid’s, or their parent’s day at a car show to take a few photos of their kid in an old ride. Never gave it a thought. I have a pic of my daughter when she around 3 sitting in the driver’s seat of the Vette shortly before I sold it. When I come across that photo every few years, I still get a kick looking at it.
That’s what it’s all about, screw the money game, numbers game, all that BS, if you make a kid, or any age persons day, or your day by looking, driving, or riding, you’ve done it right.
 

murfman

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Homogenized modern vehicles have made driving mundane

July 12, 2022

Today’s youth get a bad rap for being boring: they don’t join clubs, volunteer, pursue hobbies, or invent anything. Their sartorial style is a sad mishmash of tired trends, their movies unimaginative remakes (there are nine Spider-Man movies now), and their music is largely stoned hip-hop artists talk-singing to the same hypnotic beat.

There are many forces at work in the dulling of the current generation, but one of the simplest reasons youngins may not feel inclined to go anywhere or do anything is because getting there is such an exercise in meh. When was the last time you sat in the driver’s seat of a new car, gripped the steering wheel and felt one iota of excitement?Where I live, collecting cars, restoring them, and sharing your masterpiece with others is a celebrated tradition. There’s a “cruise-in” going on somewhere about every weekend of the summer, with everything from pristine, period-perfect Model As to chromed-out, shined-up 1970s Mustangs lining up to be admired.At one such event, my friend’s father, Doug, displayed his 1970 Camaro. He’d spent months rebuilding and refurbishing every inch of this vehicle, and it felt like we had time-traveled and Doug had just driven the thing fresh off the lot with zero miles on the odometer.

Doug also displayed a book documenting the process he went through rebuilding the Camaro’s rusty frame, hand-sewing the seat cushions, rebuilding the engine and fine-tuning it back to factory standards. This car is his pride and joy and evokes memories of a similar make and model he had when he was courting his then-girlfriend, now-wife of forty-five years. Doug told me cars were everything to him and his friends. As soon as you saw a type and color of car, you knew who was in it. (These days, I can’t tell most cars apart.) The kids would spend all Friday night partying, driving to the racetrack and to the drive-in movies. The next day was spent cleaning and fixing their cars.

“Then we’d do it all over again, every weekend.”

How long will car culture and the creativity and memories it’s generated — like those of Doug — live on? While cars were fundamental in forming the character of the last several generations, homogenized modern cars — 96 percent of them automatics — have made driving mundane. An entire culture is fading away because of it.

David Amati, director of development of the Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Association, told WTAE.com that being an auto mechanic is now considered to be “old-school” and the industry is suffering a huge shortage. Kids don’t even care about driving anymore, let alone fixing cars. It used to be that the day you turned sixteen, you went straight to the DMV to get your license and say so long! to rides from mom. No more. Federal Highway Administration data from 2018 showed that the number of sixteen-year-olds with a driver’s license had decreased from 46 percent to 25 percent since 1983.

Perhaps it’s because I live near a lot of Amish people and I see them every day working on old buildings in my little Pennsylvania town, but I am ever more inclined to blame the downfall of our civilization on technology. Sure, computers can make things more efficient, but they also tend to do a lot of the “thinking” and doing for us, stripping people of the ability — and desire — to create, tinker, and do more than be entertained by a screen.

Doug’s son Dougie, a mechanic of thirty years, agrees. He grew up in an era when muscle cars were king, and he now works on machines that rely on electronic control units and software. Dougie distinctly remembers learning to drive: it was on his dad’s ’66 Ford F-100, with three on the tree.

“It was older cars everybody had when I was a kid, and they kept ‘em running,” Dougie recalls. “Everybody knew everything about them, and they were easy to work on.”

The first car Dougie bought was a ’78 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. It cost him $100. With his dad Doug’s help, Dougie rebuilt the car’s engine and transmission and repainted the body.

He remembers having to tear the engine apart once in the school parking lot, “pull the intake off of it, fix a lifter, and put it back together to make it run.”

Talking to Dougie and his parents, who live on a secluded road surrounded by farms and old strip mines, nearly every family memory involves a motor: “melting tires” by drag racing on the flat strip of road in front of the house, blowing out and rebuilding an engine, getting stuck and unstuck.

Dougie and his dad have worked together fixing cars, trucks, ATVs — anything with wheels — their entire lives. Modern cars may be more reliable, Dougie says, but when they do break, they’re harder to fix.

“The newer they get, everything is in a tighter space, and it’s a pain to work on — they don’t give you any room,” says Dougie. “They try to make everything so you have to take it back to a dealer. They don’t want backyard mechanics working on things.”

New cars are also nearly impossible to modify.

“Back in the Sixties and Seventies, there were so many different options for a car, but today you basically have every vehicle with the same thing. There’s nothing to change out. Back then, say you bought a ’69 Camaro off the floor, it had a 327 in it, an automatic, you could take it home, pull it out, put a 454 with a four-speed in it, have it running by the end of the weekend. You can’t do that with today’s cars. With newer ones, like this [new Ford F-350], you have to take the cab off of it to change the turbo or fix anything.”

Cars build character, and car culture in America has been essential to our nation’s identity. Along with the growing price point separating “people carriers” from sportier rides, Dougie again cites technology as a problem.

“Trying to get kids off of their phones and getting them interested in cars to keep [car culture] alive — if you don’t it’s just going to fade away to electric vehicles,” he says.

Something tells me members of Gen Z won’t be waxing nostalgic about the glory days of driving their first Kia Rio to the Apple Store. Nor will they be searching the scrap yards to find the original knob with which they controlled their infotainment system while blasting “Wait for U.” And who’s going to write “Giddy Up, Giddy Up, Giddy Up, Toyota Camry”? Or make a movie about an iconic Hyundai Elantra?
I call total bovine scattology. Last weekend I was at my place in Tennessee and in Gatlinburg there was an event called Slammedenough. There were literally thousands of young guys out there in the lowered and cambered cars and trucks. While definitely not my style of cars or modifications. They were out in force, every parking lot, every winding road in the area. Wall to wall young guys doing what I was doing 30-40 years ago. I also have to say I didn’t see any skirmishes or major problems with the LEOs. They may not like what you like, but they are still there. Hell I saw a lowered Prius.

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Don67Satellite

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Local cruise nights in my neck of the woods are lacklustre, so I often head to other areas around me where the action is. And one thing I notice is people come to see the cars, and they bring their kids, so maybe there's another Mopar maniac in the making. Also there are many young people in their teens and 20's-30's who also come and talk with owners of cars that they seem to like.

I doubt very much the interest is dead. I think the cost of living for some prohibits getting into the hobby, especially when supply chains are strained and parts/shipping are ridiculously expensive, not to mention fuel & that people want $25K for a roached out Charger these days.

The minimum wage may be 10X higher than back in the day, but you don't find $350 cars anymore to start with. With the auction houses and millionaires driving up the values by trading them like hockey cards, the hobby may become out of reach for the everyday kid who may dream of driving one of these cars.
 

1STMP

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Part of this trend, I believe is knowledge
handed down. Most kids today don't want to
put time and effort into a complete frame
off rebuild, as they weren't taught the skills
necessary to complete it. Most today buy
running cars, and thru after market add ons,
achieve the goals they're after. I know we all did the same with the add on's but our
generation is the one who actually put them
on.
They would rather pay someone else to
do the work.
All the tools and equipment it takes to
complete a frame off are getting to the
extreme on the expensive side. Us old farts
have spent years accumulating the tools
required.
Paint, body, electrical, engines,
transmissions, differentials, steering,
suspension. A lot to learn in a lifetime.
I'm one of the lucky few that can "hand down"
what I've learned, to my son.
20200530_151222.jpg
 

Don67Satellite

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I should also have stated that there are many younger people than myself who bring classic cars and hotrods to the cruise in's. There are definitely the later model Mustang & Camaro kids, but some are driving 60's & 70's muscle too. I was heading home not long ago, and I knew there was a very healthy sounding mid-60's Chevy Malibu in my rear view mirror. Followed me for a long time. Turned out we got to a particular stop light, I was turning left and the Chevy was heading right. The 2 guys in the Chevy couldn't have been much more than 19-20, and that car was MINT. They both gave me the :thumbsup: and we went our separate ways. Almost made me feel young like them again.:fool:
 

1STMP

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I should also have stated that there are many younger people than myself who bring classic cars and hotrods to the cruise in's. There are definitely the later model Mustang & Camaro kids, but some are driving 60's & 70's muscle too. I was heading home not long ago, and I knew there was a very healthy sounding mid-60's Chevy Malibu in my rear view mirror. Followed me for a long time. Turned out we got to a particular stop light, I was turning left and the Chevy was heading right. The 2 guys in the Chevy couldn't have been much more than 19-20, and that car was MINT. They both gave me the :thumbsup: and we went our separate ways. Almost made me feel young like them again.:fool:
Though those kids recognized nostalgia,
were they the ones who actually did the
work on the car? Or dd they "borrow"
dad's hard work? Plagiarism is difficult
to prove when it comes to building a dream.
 

Don67Satellite

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Though those kids recognized nostalgia,
were they the ones who actually did the
work on the car? Or dd they "borrow"
dad's hard work? Plagiarism is difficult
to prove when it comes to building a dream.

Unless I run into them again and ask, I guess that's the mystery. But who really cares? Lots of guys here & everywhere else bought someone else's handiwork over building. If everyone knew everything, there would be no need for this forum.

I remember being 18 and I had 2yrs of "career prep auto mechanics" (LOL) under my belt that I took in high school when I got my '71 Demon 340. What little I learned in school and a small block Mopar book is what I used to rebuild my 340.

I had to learn. Who's to say kids don't still know how too do that?

I'm actually still learning. Hence why I am on FBBO!

:canada:
 

1STMP

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Unless I run into them again and ask, I guess that's the mystery. But who really cares? Lots of guys here & everywhere else bought someone else's handiwork over building. If everyone knew everything, there would be no need for this forum.

I remember being 18 and I had 2yrs of "career prep auto mechanics" (LOL) under my belt that I took in high school when I got my '71 Demon 340. What little I learned in school and a small block Mopar book is what I used to rebuild my 340.

I had to learn. Who's to say kids don't still know how too do that?

I'm actually still learning. Hence why I am on FBBO!

:canada:
Hats off. You're one of the few. I won't
begrudge your efforts. Lots out there
that take credit where none is due.
Please take no offense if your work is
genuine.
 
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