How did you celebrate Collector Car Appreciation Day? On July 8th, Hagerty Insurance hosted a group of young adults to teach them how to drive—and appreciate—historic cars.
What better way to get kids excited about cars than to put them behind the wheel of some really cool ones? During this month’s inaugural Hagerty Driving Experience, 35 young adults got to do just that at the Dearborn, Michigan-based Automotive Hall of Fame.
After some basic classroom driving instruction and tips on manning a clutch, the 15- to 20-year-olds got to chose from an array of historic vehicles before hitting the closed course with a driving instructor. A pre-war 1928 Packard phaeton, a 1930 Ford Model A, and even the 1963 Corvette “split window” coupe owned by Hagerty CEO, McKeel Hagerty, were among the many vehicles there for the excited young drivers to try.
Recent research collected by the HVA showed that young people have less interest in driving and likely possess less driving skill than teens three decades ago. According to the Department of Transportation, only 49 percent of 17-year-olds have their driver’s licenses (a more than 25 percent decrease since 1978). Additionally, less than 10 percent of currently produced vehicles are equipped with manual transmissions, a technology prevalent on classics. Hagerty’s program, held on Collector Car Appreciation Day, was developed to expose youth to the pleasures of driving a classic car.
After driving all of the event vehicles, Caleb Birdsley, 15, of Capac, Michigan said, “I already knew how a clutch worked but when they explained it to you individually it made a lot more sense. I wasn’t really sure how [driving a classic] was going to be because it takes a little bit to get used to each car to begin with. I wasn’t necessarily nervous but more like anxious and curious.”
“In order to keep classics on the road for future generations to enjoy, we have to give youth access to these rare cars and teach them the ins and outs of driving such unique vehicles,” said McKeel Hagerty. “The feedback we received was incredible. They really seemed to embrace the event.”
For more about youth programs, check out operationignite.hagerty.com. Hagerty's Operation Ignite! "Connecting Kids and Cars" is a suite of programs designed to grow the interest of the hobby among young people through interactive events.