Updated: Nov 29, 2021
If I were given a pound for every time I've heard some misty-eyed older gentlemen say that he wished young people would take an interest in classic cars, I dare say that I'd be able to afford the latest insurance quote I was given.
Landed with crippling quotes from insurance companies, who use the most archaic methods to evaluate how likely you are to wrap yourself around a tree and labelled as fundamentally bad drivers. Young people hardly stand a chance of becoming tomorrow's motoring enthusiasts.
Fewer and fewer people are learning to drive and the fact is that young people in the UK are being pushed away from any form of car ownership, let alone vintage cars.
Now before you start furiously attacking your keyboard, I know that drivers with fewer hours on the roads are statistically a greater liability. There exists plenty of evidence to support this, but just how much more of a liability actually are they?
I've been shopping around various insurance companies lately and have come up against the seemingly magical benchmark of '25 years of driving experience. This rhetoric based around so-called 'experience' is something we don't normally question but perhaps it is actually worthwhile to decipher what 'experience' actually counts towards?
Simply stating the amount of time that you have been doing something for, in reality, tells us little to nothing at all about how good at that particular thing you actually are. Someone who has worked in IT for the last 25 years might be surprised to find that they are actually less technically proficient than your average 12-year-old.
I think what I'm trying to say is that experience only counts for anything if you're continually adapting to the changing nature of the world around us.
25 Years ago in 1996, you could still use a mobile phone and drive at the same time. In fact, this was deemed acceptable until the government outlawed it in 2003. There are also far more cars on the road each year. The nature of driving is changing which new drivers are being taught about, leaving everyone else to learn as they go along.
"Young people hardly stand a chance of becoming tomorrow's motoring enthusiasts..."
What many proudly uphold as '25 years of experience' is more often than not, one year of experience repeated 25 times over. Wouldn't it be interesting to select a group who passed their driving tests 25 years ago and make them take a modern driving test. I think the results may be quite enlightening and I'm sure there's a TV show in that somewhere. Anyway, I digress...
The image of the 'young driver', in particular the 'young male driver', has long been tarnished by the image of a slammed Vauxhall Nova, being spanked around a Tesco car park on a Saturday evening, whilst hoodie-clad onlookers, high on burnt clutch fumes, look on approvingly at a display of poorly executed handbrake turns.
However, you only have to open your eyes to see that the yobbo has now grown up, bought a Nissan Qashqai, and entered chartered accountancy.
Permit me if you please, to be a realist for a second. If we aren't prepared to encourage all young people to get behind the wheel, then we could at least turn to the young classic car enthusiast. If a 17-year-old with a keen interest in the development of the motor car, decided to buy himself a Morris Minor as his first car, then we as a collective body should be bending over backwards to help facilitate this, if indeed we are interested in keeping classic motoring alive beyond just talking about it.
This hypothetical 17 year old to whom I refer, isn't going to get his Morris remapped or fit an aftermarket exhaust system. It's going to be driven very carefully, as it's clearly going to be cherished. Gone are the days when these were 'just old cars'. Driving something that old, even if by modern standards it isn't very valuable, still takes an enormous amount of commitment. This should be taken into consideration before he or she, (but most likely he), is badged as a juvenile delinquent.
"hoodie-clad onlookers, high on burnt clutch fumes, look on approvingly at a display of poorly executed handbrake turns..."
To sum up then. It's about more than just money. We have to accept that it is expensive to become a driver in this modern age. I still believe that it is more expensive than it ought to be, but there's more to it than that.
I'm not an avid viewer of Formula One, but I'm surprised most of the drivers on the grid this year have been able to take enough time out of their GCSE revision schedules to drive around racetracks at 200mph every weekend!
Young people are constantly being told that they're going to be inferior to experienced drivers and that's simply not the case.
If we want to cement the future of the classic car, in a world that's trying desperately to threaten it, then we need to attack the problem at source; namely by making it as easy as possible to get young people in the driving seat.