20 December 2013

Hagerty Driving Experience: Teaching young drivers three-pedal fun

For the newest generation of drivers, and even those with years of experience, the skill of driving a manual transmission is one that few possess. With less than 10 percent of new cars produced today being equipped with a manual transmission, there’s far less opportunity and need to learn how to operate a clutch and shift gears. The Hagerty Driving Experience Powered by Ford aims to help steer that outcome down a different road.

Pairing a classroom session with closed-course driving lessons, the Hagerty Driving Experience provides a unique and exciting opportunity for young drivers to learn how to operate a manual transmission. At six locations across the country, more than 300 participants finessed the pedals in a wide variety of vehicles that included a 1929 Ford Model A, 1963 Jaguar E-Type and 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS.

“The future of the car hobby depends on young drivers being excited about cars, and being able to actually drive them,” said McKeel Hagerty, President and CEO of Hagerty.  “The Driving Experience gives them the chance to learn those skills from behind the wheel.”

Ford Motor Company shares the passion for teaching young people how to drive manual transmissions, and it was with great pleasure that the Driving Experience officially partnered with Ford this year. Through the company’s support, two 2013 Ford Mustang GTs and a Focus ST were provided for each event, giving participants the chance to experience modern performance vehicles in addition to a variety of classic cars provided by local car owners.

With the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang approaching in 2014, the inclusion of new Mustangs at each event offered a perfect opportunity for participants to experience the modern version of one of the industry’s most iconic cars, one that is easily relatable to young and old alike.

Some events included both modern and classic examples of Mustangs.  During the Orange County, Calif., event, ABC- 7 television personality Dave Kunz volunteered his 1965 Ford Mustang. It was with this car that he learned to drive a stick shift as a teenager, and he was thrilled to give today’s young drivers the chance to learn behind the same wheel. Having Kunz’s first generation Mustang roll alongside Ford’s 2013 Mustang GT was an ideal parallel that helped participants gain an even deeper appreciation of our automotive heritage and how the past continues to carry us forward.

The Driving Experience wrapped up the year at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in September. The experience was especially unique for 16-year-old Krystal-Jo Weiss, who used her newfound shifting skill to drive her 1967 Ford Bronco to her high school homecoming.

“It was fun driving both the classics and the new cars,” Weiss said. “I learned that you really have to focus when driving a manual transmission. You’re more involved and more connected because you have to know your car better.”

The Hagerty Driving Experience Powered by Ford continues to gain momentum for 2014. Our partnership with Ford Motor Company helped provide more young drivers the chance to learn the ins and outs of motoring in a unique and memorable way that will remain with them for years to come – and might even lead them to owning a manual transmission vehicle of their own one day.

Hagerty is currently planning dates and locations for 2014, so keep an eye on our Facebook page (www.hagerty.com/drivingexperience) to learn where the gears will be shifting!

10 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Robert Groman Naperville, Ill. December 25, 2013 at 15:32
    What a great story. This is exactly the kind of publicity we need to keep the vintage and classic car hobby alive for the future. Fifty years from now which one of these young adults will be penning a story about their love affair with classic automobiles beginning with the words: "I first fell in love with classic cars at a local event when I saw my very first 1960 Triumph TR-3A..."
  • 2
    Dave Marmon Huntington woods mi December 25, 2013 at 15:49
    I bought my son when he turned 16 a new car with 8 airbags and a 5 speed stick. It likely prevented the teenage death scourge of texting and driving!
  • 3
    David Rider Kelowna December 25, 2013 at 17:47
    I was happy to read about such an experience where people can enjoy the advantages of manual transmission cars. It seems a shame that nearly everything today - even sportier cars are predominantly automatics. In my opinion, I think people would rather have automatics to enable eating, drinking, talking and even texting while driving. No wonder cars today require so many airbags!
  • 4
    Robert Geiser Sussex WI December 25, 2013 at 18:04
    Driving stick shift is rapidly becoming a lost skill in this country. For something interesting, try driving a tractor such as an Oliver 18-28 or IH 10-20 with right-foot clutch and hand brake. Fortunately these tractors do not exceed 5 mph.
  • 5
    jose costas orlando fl December 25, 2013 at 22:43
    let us know
  • 6
    Jerome Nuell St. Louis, MO December 26, 2013 at 13:44
    All cars with manual transmissions are not identical. This my son (proud owner of a BMW M5) found out when he was home for the holidays and requested that he be allowed to drive my beautiful 40 Chevrolet Special Deluxe 45 passenger coupe. He started moving through the gears with short throws instead of allowing the vacuum mechanism to do the work. As the gears started to grind , I informed him to ease up or he would soon be buying me a rebuild. Soon he develoved a feel for the mechanics of an older car and seemed to enjoy it. Happy holidays to all you collectors out there.
  • 7
    Fred Colgren, Education Director Gilmore Car Mus. Hickory Corners, Michigan December 26, 2013 at 16:17
    Our Curator and Director at the Gilmore Car Museum just spoke to me a few months ago about running a class here at the Museum on driving a stick shift. Is there any interest in collaboration on this project? The Education committee at the Gilmore also has been working on a couple other aspects of a class like this that might be appropriate. You may be interested in our Model T driving school that was started last season and very successful. Love to hear from you on this subject. Thanks, Fred Colgren Education Director Gilmore Car Museum
  • 8
    Pam Shewan Florida December 26, 2013 at 10:17
    I have always driven a manual transmission. Every car I have ever owned has been a manual. I enjoy driving but I have to shift gears! Letting the car do it on its own just is not the same. I think when some these kids get the hang of driving a manual the will never go back to the automatic. Regardless, I think it makes them better drivers. Very cool you are doing this with Ford!!
  • 9
    Art Rockford, IL December 27, 2013 at 11:40
    I attended a Dodge SRT Event a few years ago, several of the cars were Vipers. One young girl had never driven stick, they put her in a Viper and bounced around just off the course until she got the hang of it. I bet she will never forget her first drive in a stick shift.
  • 10
    Dennis Slechta Grapevine, Texas December 28, 2013 at 13:26
    I participated in the 3 pedal fun event in Dallas. All I can say it was another class act put on by Hagerty. It was great teaching the young guys and girls how to drive a manual transmission. I believe at days end that everyone of the students would have been able to drive a manual transmission home. Thank you Hagerty

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