Is there a better time to get kids involved with old cars than when they are 6 to 12 years old?
There are already a few “junior judge” programs, often supported by Hagerty, at concours. These programs generally mix kids from pre-teenagers to 18 years old.
However, I think there should be a class specifically for kids from age 6 to 12.
I’d like to see them all with t-shirts that say, “Concours Judge – The Next Generation.”
The goal is not to teach them how to be nit-picky judges, but rather to learn how to look at cars. A secondary goal, and equally important, is to provide them an opportunity to learn collector car manners.
Over the years, I have taught several classes at elementary schools that were titled “Learning to Look at Cars.”
I had very simple forms for the kids to fill out. I asked them to go home and look at their parent’s cars. They were to mark whether the cars had two or four doors, a bench or bucket seats and a shifter on the column or the floor.
There was a place to write down the year, make and model of the car — and what color the outside and inside were.
I also asked them to see if there were two or three pedals (that’s simpler that trying to explain stick or automatic). They also marked down if the wheels on their parents’ cars had metal covers (hubcaps) or spokes (I showed them an example of each).
The next day, the kids would always come back bubbling with enthusiasm. I asked each student to talk about their parents’ cars, what they had seen and what they had learned.
They were learning to look at cars.
In my hypothetical junior judges class, a goal would be to learn as much about the owners of cars as about the cars themselves.
I would have kids ask owners how long ago they bought the car and why they picked it out. I would ask them how much work they have done to the car.
And now comes the “collector car manners” part. I would ask them to politely ask the owner if he would open the doors to the car, so they could see inside. “Excuse me sir, would you please open the hood for me so I can look at the engine?”
I view all of this as a terrific opportunity to make cars come alive for young people.
I also think that the awards they decide on should be kid centric. They should have categories such as, “The Car I Would Like to Have When I turn 16” and “The Car I’d Like to Drive on a Road Trip with my Friends.” And perhaps, “The Most Outrageous Styling, Most Modern Styling and Most Old-Fashioned Styling.”
There’s plenty of time for them to learn about hose clamps and fuel pumps and original seating surfaces when they become older.
Imagine seeing a group of ten 9-year-olds interviewing the owners of 300SL Gullwings, Gallardos and BMW 2002tiis about their cars — and then sharing with us what they learned.
To bring kids into our hobby, we have to start them out young. And we have to give them real reasons to learn about cars. Having this type of judging class would be a good beginning.
I’d like to hear your thoughts here.