In recognition of the challenges the classic car hobby faces with an aging population of enthusiasts, the MG Car Club Northwest Centre has been exploring new approaches toward fostering interest among the younger generation.
There is a vocational high school in our area that has a sophisticated and large automotive technology program. Early this year, Paul Feuerpfeil of the MG Car Club contacted the program’s instructors and arranged for the club to bring several cars to the Sno-Isle Technical Skills Center for a “show and tell” day. This turned out to be a spectacular hit.
On a Friday, more than a dozen assorted MGs and one slightly scruffy classic Mini Traveller showed up at the school. When the kids piled out of the shop, their eyes were wide and the conversations started flowing. Questions abounded on carburetors (what is that thing?), drum brakes and right hand drive. Universally, they were impressed with the simplicity, the rugged build quality and the elegance of line—their words, not mine. The club’s tales of Roadside Restoration Parties were met with youthful smiles as the realization sank in that all parts of these cars can be fixed with basic tools on the side of the road.
It was very clear that the kids were intrigued with the sense of adventure presented by cars that were NOT computer controlled into an absolutely boring state of programming, where motoring actually has a touch of unpredictability involved.
As time progressed, the conversations became animated as the enthusiasm of the young spread to the older set. At one point, I reached into the boot of a friend’s MGA, grabbed the crank handle and amazed a whole pod of kids (and elders too) by giving the handle a quick spin and having the MGA start right up and settle into a contented purr. (Note: thumb MUST be on the same side of the handle as the fingers…)
Several students have expressed interest in acquiring MGs. And between our club members and the instructors, word is spreading and plans are being made to hold similar events at other technically oriented schools in the region.
Looking back on my own experience, it was a neighbor and a cousin who introduced me to British Cars when I was young, sparking a lifelong interest. It was gratifying to see, in the span of a few short hours, these very same sparks and connections being made all over again with a whole new generation.
By Steve Hanegan
MG Car Club Northwest Centre