I hate hearing anything that starts with “kids these days…” but that sentence sucks especially when it ends with “…aren’t into cars.” Luckily it’s not true.
Cars feel like less of a social necessity in 2021 than they have in the past as people (sadly) take bigger chunks of their lives online, and that sentiment has sparked plenty of tweets and blog posts along the lines of “millennials are killing cars.” It’s easy to refute those claims though; my generation is still copping plenty of cars.
My generation hasn’t really represented youngness for a some time, though. I’m on the elderly end of what’s considered a millennial, born in ’87, but even the last of us have been of driving age for a few years now. Yet when I find myself at an early morning cars and coffee, I often do feel like I’m one of the younger people in the mix. Or, like the other day when I went on Jay Ryan’s Latenight Playset podcast, he referred to me as driving culture’s youth (he’s in his 40s) and for a second I found myself thinking, shoot, are people in their early 30s the “youth” of the car scene right now?
In my heart I knew the answer was no, there are absolutely still freshly licensed folks eager to learn about tuning and driving and bringing badly running cars back to life. But it was nice to have this theory proven at a Nissan Z meet by the beach the other day.
I’m a member of several 300ZX-themed Facebook Groups, and a few weekends ago I saw a post that gathering was being organized at a parking lot down the road in the middle of a Sunday. I rolled up, and as soon as I got out of my car I felt extremely self-conscious. Not because my car was filthy (it was, but) everybody who was already hanging out and posted up by their Zs looked 10 to 15 years younger than me.
Now I’m really going to sound like an old man, but, they reminded me of my high school homies. And their cars were similarly presented: ratty, but heavily customized and clearly treasured.
I was actually a little nervous to socialize; people under 25 seem cool and intimidating once you age beyond 30. But folks were extremely nice and eager to talk cars, even more so than strangers tend to be at a random Malibu cars and coffee morning.
I left feeling deeply validated. My theory and hope there are still 16-to-25-year-olds into cars for the sake of cars, not just as a means to get around and buy drugs, was proven correct. They’re just running cheaper vehicles and skipping 7 a.m. coffee shop meets, which, yeah, so was I in 2005.
The real threat to youth car culture isn’t TikTok shifting social norms – it’s the steadily rising prices of used cars. The days of being able to plunk down $1,000 and have a viable starter car seem to be behind us. But we’re going to do everything we can at Car Autance to make automobile ownership as affordable and accessible as possible for as long as we can.
So if you’re just getting your license and having a hard time getting on the road, don’t give up! The culture needs you!