Never Stop Driving #57: Please fix my car
One of life’s biggest hassles these days is getting your car fixed. Pandemic parts shortages didn’t help, but the real issue is the declining number of technicians. The problem’s been brewing for years but is now severe enough for the Wall Street Journal to notice. A recent two-page article included this startling data: Some 258,000 new techs are needed every year yet just 48,000 graduate from training schools.
Most middle and high schools killed shop programs over the past two or three decades, so this situation is hardly surprising. I recently listened to a podcast where the host and guest talked about how the world needs more plumbers and I wondered if either has ever laid in a nasty crawlspace while fixing a toilet drain. Sure, skilled plumbers and other tradespeople can now earn six figures, but the median wage for auto techs is about 50 grand, roughly a third of what a software company like Facebook pays its average developer. This is where my libertarian leanings collide with reality. Software developers can reach millions with a click, but a mechanic repairs one car at a time. I understand the economics. The unspoken message, however, is that we place a higher value on an app designed to monopolize our attention than we do on jobs that help people live their lives. Fixing cars and other physical things often involves uncomfortable labor. Who came blame our youth for seeking alternate careers?
As a country, we are missing an opportunity. While many schools don’t teach shop class, technical knowledge and inspiration for the trades abound on the internet. One of Hagerty’s most popular video series is Redline Rebuilds, starring automotive engineer, drag racer, and consummate wrench Davin Reckow, who entertains as he teaches. The most viewed videos, with tens of millions of hits, are quick stop-motion engine-assembly films set to music. They’re like a gateway drug for potential gearheads and we follow up with more detailed instructional videos.
Recently, Reckow illustrated the steps to assemble a Chrysler V-8, which taught me plenty. I wonder what my career trajectory would have been had I been able to watch Redline Rebuilds in my youth. The Chrysler video is only two weeks old and has already been viewed over 100,000 times. Although our videos are not free for us to make, they are free for you to watch because Hagerty is committed to spreading car knowledge and passion. Maybe— hopefully—we’re inspiring folks to at least investigate a hands-on technical career. If you’d like to support us, please sign up for the Hagerty Drivers Club and tell a friend.
While you’re on YouTube checking out all the Hagerty content, also surf over to the Tavarish channel for a journey into fearless DIY car mechanics. Host Freddy Hernandez bought a flood-ruined McLaren P1 supercar and is rebuilding it. There are few cars as mechanically and electronically complicated as the P1 and Hernandez freely admits that he and his crew are winging it . . . and having a roaring good time figuring it out. Watching these wonderful nutjobs inspires me to tackle my own repairs. We’re all rooting for ya, Freddy.
I’m presently in extra need of inspiration because my partial DIY restoration of a $25,000 1975 Dino 308 GT4 is dragging. My most recent update detailed numerous roadblocks, including my own experiences with the shortage of skilled tradespeople. The Ferrari is the most ambitious project I’ve ever done. Two years in, there are many days when I wonder what I was thinking, but I was reminded of why I sought out that car by Jason Cammisa’s newest Revelations episode, which focuses on the two Dino models Ferrari produced and why they’re special. Fingers crossed I’ll drive my car before the summer is out.
Since I was out last week, you might have missed a host of interesting material from Hagerty Media. Kyle Smith detailed his practical tips for home engine building, Hagerty readers shared their own roadside-repair antics, and we highlighted affordable Mopars.
Have a great weekend!
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