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Why Aren’t Kids Interested in Cars Anymore?
Why Aren’t Kids Interested in Cars Anymore?

Why Aren’t Kids Interested in Cars Anymore?

Crain’s posted a article today lamenting youth’s lack of interest in cars these days.  They’re just not interest things to play with. In the event you can’t open the link, it’s essence is captured in opening comments:

"grew up turning wrenches and tinkering with cars alongside his father in the family garage…but his 10-year-old son would rather play video games than play with tools…"

I know for my 12 year old son, XBOX definitely captures more interest than working with dad on the car, or motorcycle for that matter.

The article misses a very obvious component.

For most of the automobile’s history, youth could engage their cars directly. Growing up, you could grab a screwdriver, play with the ignition, and see what the effect was. You could re-jet carbs, heck change carbs, and have an immediate impact on engine performance (even if it was only sucking down more gas).

For years, I carried a toolbox in the trunk. Stopped doing that 20 years ago, realizing there was nothing in the car I could fix on the roadside anymore, anyway.

Today, there is very little youth can do to engage with whatever car may be available to them. Carbs are history, as are points & condensers. Structures and bodywork are increasingly unfriendly to the backyard mechanic.

Changing brakes, fluids, and rotating tires is about all Dad’s likely to let junior do to his computer-driven, exotic materials containing, hybrid-hazardous, trip-to-the-dealer-if-you-break-it vehicle.

The most exciting thing to come along now? Ford’s open developer program for developing 3rd party apps for cars. Even then, is Dad going to let junior use his $35K car as an electronics test platform, knowing he needs it for work in the morning?

What do you think?  If you have children you regularly engage with, what are their interests like? Automotive oriented at all?

image credit:
Winter Feelings – Hans Thoursie


  1. It is interesting to see the transition. I can tell you everything about the specs and changes of my first 3 high performance muscle cars, down to the size and brand of the N50 tires I had on the back of the old Ford Ranchero with the 351Cleveland engine. I don’t know if it is a transition to digital (technology and games), or something that is more cerebral. My kids had read all the classics by the time they were 10 – I still have a few to go. They both had planned out their careers, and neither of them are interested in the typical or traditional American Dream (e.g., colloquially, a house, two car garage, two kids and a dog).

    Seems that most of their friends are not interested in that dream either. Could it be a generational development to want the things that parents have struggled to acquire? Could it be the sacrifices made maintain those possessions, or even the pain of watching their parents lose everything in this down economy?

    Or (more likely in my case), is it a generation that sees a higher calling, more interest in serving others, and less interest in accumulation and consumption? In another decade, the economists and analysts will tell us.

    1. JT

      Hello Andrew,

      Appreciate the comment.  I do not know all the reasons driving the change, but I am certainly observing it.

      Many of my (oldest) daughter’s friends have no interest in cars, no interest in even getting a driver’s license.  My daughter seems to be almost an oddity in that case.  Eager to get her first car, as she puts it, "it gets me where I want to go."

      And, I think that reflects on current society.  Things are much more transitional, temporary.  It seems more a question of current ‘enablers’ for what we want to do at the moment, than amassing physical assets that become inhibitors to future mobility.

      Higher callings? I do not know. What I seem to observe is, empowered through things like social media, is an increase in what might be called, ‘Idealism.’



  2. Ghost of 503

    Gee, number of people making minimum wage is at an all time high, unemployment is going through the roof, cars are more expensive to own then ever, gas is $4.00 a gallon… Yup, perfect time to be interested in tampering with something that with one wrong move costs 1/2 of your yearly salary to repair.

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