Sam, a 14-year-old car enthusiast, seeks your advice

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Sam from the Hagerty Community

We have an ever-increasing and quickly-diversifying fanbase over at the Hagerty Community, and sometimes a member poses a question worthy of wider distribution. As a 14-year-old car enthusiast looking for guidance from more experienced enthusiasts as he navigates today’s automotive landscape, Sam is one such person that deserves special recognition. His passion for cars goes just as deep as those reading this article, and we hope you’ll give him some advice in the comments … as he will be reading them!

Sam is one of many reasons why you should consider joining the community, but in the meantime let’s learn more about him.

Tell us a little about yourself, Sam.

My name is Sam, I’m 14, and from the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. The first car I really obsessed over was the Chevrolet Corvair and I’m looking for advice on how/where to learn more about cars and what my first car should be. My parents are divorced, so getting both to agree on a car for me can be challenging. I have a few grand from my bar mitzvah, but I probably wouldn’t use all of it on a car. And yes, it needs to be either rear wheel or NO WHEEL drive! (That’s obviously sarcasm, but I do love rear-wheel drive.)

What about the Corvair got you interested in cars?

I think I obsessed (and still do) over the Corvair’s looks. Corvairs, especially the LMs, look nothing like the Impalas and other cars of the area. They have a splash of Karmann Ghia, with an American flat-six in the trunk. Sure, they’re slow—the early models had gas heaters that could kill you, the rear end went swing-swing in tight corners—but I still love them and would like to own one sooner than later.

You mentioned in the Hagerty Community about working on cars as your first job, but mentioned that places around you want someone a little bit older in their shop. If you can’t work on cars for your first job, what would you do for work?

I’m not all too certain. I’d like to work somewhere around cars. Realistically, I’m going to be flipping burgers at the McDonalds down the street.

If/when you get a job in an automotive repair shop, what would you like to learn from automotive service professionals that were once in your shoes?

Really, learn how to fix modern cars. Sure, you can fix a 60+ year-old muscle car with a basic set of hand tools, but not any more. Modern cars are as much computers as they are “car” cars.

What kind of advice do you want from the enthusiasts here at Hagerty?

I honestly don’t know. In general, the only bit of advice would be to educate younger enthusiasts on how to fix old cars. Sure, I may want a ’72 Datsun 510 or a ’68 MG BGT, but how many 14-year-olds do? These cars will be left to a fate worse than death if younger generations aren’t influenced or shown how to fix them. Restoration is just as important as preservation.

What tools do you currently have?

I personally have no tools, and my dad’s old toolbox has a cocktail of random Craftsman, Pittsburgh, and other brands.

What are your favorite classes in school?

I love history with a passion, but writing is my close second.

Since this always comes up, how does your generation treat cars differently than older generations?

Well, here’s the issue: I cannot speak for all of Gen Z. Neither should one old person who complains about iPhones represent all of the baby boomers. However, our general mindset is that “Yeah, they may be cool and all, but they’re bad for the environment.” But Gen Z enthusiasts see cars they way you guys do—cool, fun, and interesting. Instead of finding your low-mileage Chevelle cool, we think ’90s Japanese cars are cool (Supras, RX7s, etc). Even me, who has the automotive taste of a man in his late 50s, I find ’90s JDM cars cool as hell.

And finally, what do you think of the future for driving enthusiasts, for your generation and future generations?

God, this is a tough question. The future of cars seems just as cool as it does bleak. Electric cars are great for the environment and have great torque. Sure, the manual transmission may be dead, but that was already going to happen. For my generation, I’m not sure. Most of us won’t have the cash to drop on a sports car, so I expect to see some of those cars get discontinued. But I think our generation loves cars as much as the previous ones.

Let me add one more thing: Let kids see your car. If the kid’s parents are okay with it, let them sit in it, even work on it. Tell them about it, but don’t treat them like they’re stupid. Thank you to Hagerty and to the community for your time, and I hope you all have a fantastic day.

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