By on April 12, 2013

18 months after the first ever Generation Why column debuted on TTAC, one of the buff books has finally latched onto the whole “kids don’t drive anymore” meme. Road & Track’s feature on today’s youth and their lack of enthusiasm for the automobile is much grander than anything I’ve ever done. In an ideal world, I suppose I would fly a friend of mine to California on an all expenses paid trip where we’d sample a Rolls-Royce Ghost, a Lamborghini Gallardo, a Porsche 911, a Ford F-150 SVT Raptor and the talents of two race car drivers. In the real world, the best I can do is initiate a low-speed four-wheel drift in my Miata while asking them if they still think it’s a girl’s car. Such is the life of a blogger.

Despite an absence of Jack Baruth in Road & Track’s May issue, I eagerly purchased a copy, if only to read about how the mainstream media would treat the issue of young people’s supposed aversion to the automobile and car ownership. I recommend you do so as well. Don’t read it at the newsstand. It’s imperative that we support Larry Webster, Sam Smith and the rest of the gang in their attempts to create an American car magazine that we can all be proud of.

Unfortunately, R&T’s article stumbles out of the blocks and never recovers. Their test subject, Ellis Gibbard-Maioriano, appears ordinary enough, clad in a Nike t-shirt with a neon slogan and looking suitably disinterested in all photographs. But there’s something not quite ordinary about Ellis, and scribe Brett Berk does a good job of burying the crucial detail:

Raised in Manhattan’s East Village, his liberation from parental purview arrived early. “When I was 11,” he says, “I could take the subway everywhere by myself.” Ellis is attuned to grit and graffiti, but he has no driver education, no license, no vehicular mojo. “I don’t really pay attention to cars,” he says as we board our flight to Los Angeles.

This right here is what we can call selection bias. Berk didn’t pick somebody from Omaha or Birmingham or Buffalo, places where someone might conceivably want to own a car but might not be able to afford one, or where a car may in fact be an expense they’d rather not incur, but one that’s necessary to maintain employment or get to class. Instead he picks someone from Manhattan, where owning a car is not just unnecessary, but borderline idiotic. Why bother, when the mere act of walking around the island repeatedly exposes you to some of the most beautiful, history-laden geography in the United States? If there is one place in America where residents are correct to  not giva a shit about cars, it’s Manhattan.

Berk’s plan for instilling a love of the automobile in young Ellis  is equally fantastic – in the sense of fantasy, as in “Fantasy Island”. Working with what appears to be an unlimited budget, Berk constructs an automotive experience that IS as remote from reality as life in Manhattan is from life in the rest of America. Cruising in a $365,000 Rolls Royce (which costs as much as a luxury home in many culturally acceptable parts of flyover country, like Austin, Texas), driving Raptors on a private off-road course and enjoying  a track day in a Porsche 911 with Patrick Long might be the stuff of fantasy for car guys, but for someone not in tune with the significance of these events and how they relate to the automobile, they’re about as exciting as a modern interpretive dance recital would be to your average shade-tree mechanic.

The real way to do it would have been to find an interesting vehicle in the press fleet – something Berk is obviously capable of doing – and give Ellis the keys to the car. Of course, one of Ellis’ friends with a license would have to do the actual driving, but the exercise might be closer to the way we all experience cars. He might come to love cars the way we all love them. A love of cars and driving itself can only be created organically. A lot of it has to do with the memories that are created behind the wheel, things that unfold spontaneously, not in  contrived situations that have been planned and executed with a Hearst budget behind them.

Of course, Ellis isn’t entirely impervious to the charms of the automobile.

“..as we waft westward in the Ghost en route to the airport, we notice Ellis taking stock of the vehicles around him. Suddenly, he points to an E46-chassis BMW 3-series.

“How much would something like that cost?”

“About $18,000,” we respond. “But that’s the high-performance M3. You don’t need all that.”

Ellis nods. “What about an older BMW . . . like, from the Eighties?”

Mental fist pump! He’s hit upon the modern gearhead’s quintessential first car, the BMW E30. We can barely contain our elation; we tell him he could get a decent runner for three grand, even offer to help him find a good one when he’s ready. So does this mean he’s one of us now? At the very least, will he get his license?

“It’s definitely more of a priority now,” he says. “Maybe this summer.” Then he turns back to the hazy Los Angeles afternoon, endless freeways stretching out before him.

“But I get lazy in the summer, so who knows?”

Ah yes, the vintage car. It’s cheaper to own, maintain and insure and it has the cool, authentic credibility of being retro. For Ellis, his primary concerns are both maintenance and parking. But he still has the subway, so he could afford the luxury of unreliability that also comes with standard with every cool, authentic, retro old car. Plenty of young Americans don’t have that option at all, and they must also deal with $4 gasoline, insurance premiums every month, repairs, inspection, vehicle taxes and the other costs associated with motoring.

 

 

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116 Comments on “Generation Why: Road & Track’s Model Youth Doesn’t Look Like America’s Young Drivers...”


  • avatar
    car_guy2010

    You know, there is a silver lining to this:

    Less distracted drivers on the roads.

    Of course, that also means more of them crawling on sidewalks, eyes firmly glued to smartphone.

    • 0 avatar

      That “smartphone” is what’s keeping many of them OFF THE ROAD. Have you taken a look at what these kids are paying the smartphone companies? Their phone bills look like car notes. That and the massive amounts of student loans they’ve accumulated because they couldn’t get a scholarship to finance their liberal arts degree – not to mention a job after graduation – or a career.

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        “Their phone bills look like car notes.”

        So true, the Wireless Industrial Complex has worked a masterpiece of social engineering in exploiting the herd instinct of young people.

        I stand in awe of the global addiction they’ve created to feed upon.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I don’t think smartphone plans are remotely close to the true cost of even basic vehicle ownership, and I’m not a huge fan smartphones/iPhones, either.

        Not even including the initial purchase price or financing costs, gas/petrol is going to cost the average Gen-Yer’d a minimum of $150 per month (and possibly much more), insurance will run another $75 to $150 per month, and let us just conservatively estimate $75 per month in necessary maintenance AND in the form of an emergency repair cost fund (think about it: new tires or brakes alone can suddenly suck $250 to $500 from one’s wallet).

        So, the Gen-Y’er is looking at roughly $300 a month NOT including the $150 to $300 (or higher) car note payment per month, and even basic transportation is creeping up to $5500 to $7200 per year – which is closer to $8,000 per year in pre-tax income.

        • 0 avatar
          Summicron

          And they’re still hooking up enough to make babies, the best of them are trying to honor their commitment to their families, jobs are nearly unobtainable and the ones they get are under damoclean swords, the college grads are already facing lifetime peonage to their college loans…..

          What a good time to just shoot propofol and watch ME-TV till you overdose.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            You get that crappy channel too?

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            @28-Cars

            The cars, man, the cars… old B&W American TV is a treasure hoard for awesome old cars.

            May I suggest Peter Gunn as an appetizer?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Agreed. If you into the film noir genre, I suggest a relatively short one called Detour. It prominently features a 1941 Continental convertible.

            http://www.imcdb DOT org/movie_37638-Detour.html

        • 0 avatar
          snakebit

          One thing to remember for new drivers is that while they’re penalized for being in the 16-25 age group, they’re many times penalized in addition for being an inexperienced driver if they’ve waited until (in my kid’s case) 22 to get their license. I was amazed when I helped him shop for and buy a two year old Civic 4dr. Just his insurance payment was going to be $250 a month, and would have climbed another $50 a month if he chose a two door instead. That’s the kind of money you and I would have been charged to insure a Corvette at the same age. The fact that he had two lucrative job offers before college graduation and finally needed a car to get to work only lessened the shock a little.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        TMobile just deaded that. They did away w/the contract and have unlimited phone service for a mere $70/mo. Data and all. Other carriers will be forced to follow suit.

  • avatar
    Easton

    Skyrocketing cost of living + high insurance rates + endemic employment instability = very little disposable income left over for a car purchase. It’s common sense. Cars are, by and large, now purchased by Gen-Yers only when required to get or maintain a job. And, even then, they are not buying new, they are buying 3 to 5 year-old used compact cars that are good on gas and cheap to maintain rather than stylish and fun to drive.

    • 0 avatar

      +1

      Gen Y is behaving like a rational cohort of free-market consumers. Cars (especially *new* cars) are a luxury.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree with everything except “even then, they are not buying new, they are buying 3 to 5 year-old used compact cars”. If/when I purchase these it is for beater use only, there’s not much fun in a 100ish hp golf cart combined with a topography of large hills… fun is balls under the hood and fluid driving dynamics. Maybe I’m the outlier.

      • 0 avatar
        Compaq Deskpro

        If you’re on this website commenting you are the outlier. We’re talking people who don’t know the difference between a Camry and Corolla, and only get maintenance done because the sticker on the windshield says so or the snake oil salesman at Goodyear tells them too. How do you expect these grossly uninformed people to find fun in all of this?

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Feels good to be an outlier.

          “How do you expect these grossly uninformed people to find fun in all of this?”

          Never thought of it that way, I suppose I pity them. If you can’t find the joys in life then why keep living?

        • 0 avatar
          Summicron

          @Compaq

          What you said plus the ever increasing complexity of cars that prevents even well-intentioned newbies from ever being able to do more than refill wiper fluid and change oil….IF they keep putting dipsticks in cars.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I have to disagree with this. One of the most fun driving experiences I’ve ever had was whipping a 2000lb 75 HP Fiat Panda through the mountains of Tuscany for a week. Performance is OK but it often comes with the expense of weight and isolation. No thanks. I would rather have a “slow” car that involves me in the driving experience than a fast car that feels clinical and distant.

        • 0 avatar
          rpn453

          Me too. Chevettes, Tempos, Citations and Malaise-era boats were more than enough to have a lot of fun when I was younger. Certainly more fun in snow than anything with stability control enabled.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            The cars of my teenage years were pretty much the Mopar equivalents of the ones you mentioned. I got to drive a few good cars too, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying irresponsible behavior in cars with double-digit horsepower numbers and 3-speed automatics. Once I got my hands on some decent performers with manual transmissions I didn’t really want to go back, but that didn’t change the fact that I’d had a ball as a new driver in cars with all the performance of a Spark.

    • 0 avatar
      TorontoSkeptic

      Exactly, I am gen y (I think) with a good education and career… but also with kids, retirement saving priorities and job instability. I simply am not willing to buy any car I can’t pay cash for. You have to figure in that almost all of the related costs – definitely insurance and gas – are going up way faster than your salary, so even if you can afford it this year, there might be a problem a few years down the road. 5+ year old used compact cars are exactly what I’m looking for.

      I see the gen-Y market as completely split. I know a guy in a very similar situation to mine who owns a luxury SUV, german sedan and sports car. A very close friend just bought an S5. There is a huge appetite for Audi/Mercedes/BMW the same way there is for prestigious watches and clothing brands.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        If you’re an American living in Toronto, you’re Generation XI, the eleventh generation born after the American Revolution. The guy who calculated the generations used Roman numerals, like the Superbowl. You’re obviously also around the 20% of the population that doesn’t “augment” its income with credit cards and car loans.

        • 0 avatar
          TorontoSkeptic

          I realize most people borrow for cars… and I would too if I hadn’t been laid off before with zero notice from “secure” jobs in my industry because of one bad quarter.

          Point being I think a lot of Gen X/Y has had that experience. It makes you pretty gun-shy about borrowing $20k+ when the used market can provide for a fraction of that cost. With a paid-off car the layoff is a drag and it takes a few months to get back on your feet but it doesn’t create long-term problems, and if you’re absolutely desperate you can always sell the car anyways.

      • 0 avatar
        Numbers_Matching

        I was recently in the fine city of Toronto on business. Maybe it was because of the area of town I was in – Toronto should be renamed ‘German Auto Industry Showcase’ – or something like that.

        There’s more rings, stars and roundels on the road than EVEN the affluent suburbs of DC.

    • 0 avatar

      I question the stereotype. The two Gen-Y who I know bought 1) New 2) Escape (previous gen) and Tacoma. Not kidding in the slightest, like every Gen-Y they loooooove being in debt, both have college debt too. Escape has already eaten its transmission – at 18k miles. Being fixed by warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      JD23

      I hate treating an entire generation as a monolithic group. I’m a member of Generation Y and I bought an A4 in cash a few years ago to replace my aging Mazda 6. Granted, I spent five years slaving away in graduate school in order to secure the type of job needed to comfortably make a purchase of that magnitude. My brother, who is in his mid 20s, is currently shopping for a new car to replace his 12 year TL, which is rapidly turning into a money pit. Not every member of Generation Y is living paycheck to paycheck and suffering from auto apathy.

  • avatar
    harshciygar

    I think while Derek’s criticisms of the article are fair, and this “experience” is about as far removed from reality as possible, the main point of this piece isn’t anything other than entertainment.

    Can a magazine with an unlimited budget get a born-and-raised young New Yorker hooked on cars? On one hand it sounds like a no-brainer. On the other hand, at the end of the article it sounds to me like young Ellis is still not going to be buying a car anytime soon. His “Maybe later…” attitude is prevalent among so many people our age.

    Maybe there would be more challenge in converting a dedicated Camryite into trading in their beige-mobile for something more retro, classic, and fun. But it would also be cruel for all the same reasons Derek mentioned; insurance premiums, $4 a gallon gas, and I think most importantly, safety.

    Ellis can afford to be a car hobbyist, and the thing is there are more young people moving to cities than out of them. Keeping cars cool in an increasingly urban culture is important if the culture is to remain significant in the coming decades. But it is an increasingly rich man’s game in a country with stagnant wages and high unemployment, especially for young people.

  • avatar
    jz78817

    “If there is one place in America where residents are correct to not giva a shit about cars, it’s Manhattan.”

    didn’t you get the memo, Derek? The only place that matters in this country is NYC, and to a lesser extent, SoCal. The rest of the country might as well not exist as far as those people are concerned.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      What’s a SoCal? For a true New Yorker, there’s Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens (Flushing, Jackson Heights, Astoria and Long Island City), Hoboken, and “Upstate” (anything north of Columbia).

      Or, as the New Yorker (magazine) put it so well:

      http://strangemaps.files.wordpress.com/2007/02/newyorker2.JPG

  • avatar

    Let’s talk about Japan. It is, for the most part, an urban environment, both generations X and Y are way underemployed and the cost of car ownership is high. For the most part, young Japanese people spend their money on themselves and don’t bother tying it up in their driveways. It doesn’t matter to the vast majority of them just how cool a car is.

    Do they enjoy riding in cars and going places? Yes, for the most part they do. If you took them out to a track and taught them to drive fast would they have fun? Sure! Bu

    t they aren’t going to go back and buy a car either. They don’t NEED one. They don’t see them as a critical part of their lives and they don’t derrive a part of their social status from cars.

    I think America, in the cities at least, will follow suit. Some people will get the car bug, most won’t. We act like that’s a bad thing, but how much money have I blown on fast cars, insurance, repairs etc over the years? How much more fun would I have had if only I had used my moeny to go to concerts, eat in nice restaurants etc?

    But then I look the smooth, sleek sheetmetal on that beast I keep in my driveway and know I haven’t wasted my moeny. The truth is, your generation just sucks, dude.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      My generation is just a product of the shrinking economy of a mature 1st world nation and the costs of liability.

      All because your generation sucks, dude.

    • 0 avatar
      ringomon

      This is exactly how I think of it. I’m interested in cars as being interesting exercises in engineering and design, but in my real life spending more on cars presents a quickly diminished marginal utility.

      Because of where I work, and consequently where I live, my family requires two cars. I commute. Any money spent over the basic minimum of comfort and quality (meaning reliability- not real wood trim) is just taking away from other experiences I can have with my family. Eating good food, taking trips, buying decent clothes and shoes for work, saving up to see the in-laws (in Japan).

      People that prioritize spending on cars beyond basics either do it at the expense of other things, or are just flush enough that they can spend on everything. This is why all the “Corolla sheeple” people comments ring hollow for me. Basically everyone’s a “sheeple” in some aspect of their lives, you can’t lose persective on that.

      It’s also what I miss about living in Japan the most. All the freedom that came from not having to expense for two full time vehicles. That presented more freedom to me than the ability to drive anywhere anytime I want (although it’s a close toss-up with a happy medium somewhere in there).

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        Thank you for the great post. It isn’t only true in Japan. For most car owners, who are non-enthusiasts, cars are only a tool to help them do the necessary, and sometimes fun. We driving enthusiasts are strange because we enjoy an activity most people just think of as something that takes time away from the awesome things in life.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I hope the country grows more urban, for various reasons.

      I am hoping the move away from cars pushes people to get into and be more aware of motorcycles. I live in NYC and my $3000 bike provides thrills no car I could afford could. Yes its more dangerous but it beats the train and still gets 40 MPG in pure city driving, and close to 60 MPG on the open road. Plus with so many people commuting by themselves, a cheap 1 person vehicle like a bike or scooter makes sense. It’s what they do in Europe.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “How much more fun would I have had if only I had used my moeny [sic] to go to concerts, eat in nice restaurants etc?”

      Then you’d be deaf and fat instead of bald from blasting your convertible around for years (I’m not insinuating you personally or anyone else here are any of those things BTW).

      You pick your poison and drink it down. Kids want their poison to be toy phones and Facebook, go for it, one day they’ll regret it when they spend their lives playing FB games and the world passes them by.

      • 0 avatar

        Just fyi I’m deaf from ships’ engine rooms and gunfire and fat from eating drive-through food.

        They’ll regret the world passing them by no matter what they do, it’s a part of the human condition, I think. :)

      • 0 avatar
        ringomon

        There’s a lot of (easy) social media criticism that gets thrown around on this site, and it’s all pretty shallow (and pretty humorous to me coming from people that spend so much time commenting on a website).

        The fact is the world is changing. I live in a certain place because of my work. Despite the claims, it’s not that easy to get up and move, even if I wanted to. Not in this economy with two people that work. I have particular interests. If I had to stick to only a social circle of people that lived in my geographic area I’d be much the worse for it. I’ve basically built a second career thanks to the internet and social media connections. (I do freelance illustration).

        If anything I would feel much more like the world was passing me by if I didn’t use social media- because the world I’m interested in isn’t defined by a 50 miles geographic circle from where I live.
        Of course it’s all about balance. I also go to local concerts and restaurants, parks, take hobby classes at a local community college, etc…

        FB (which I only use so my parents that live a state away can keep up on their grandchild) and social media has replaced chatty phone calls and mindless TV watching. Don’t make the mistake that it’s replaced living a full life for everyone that uses it.

        • 0 avatar
          Tiddley_Wink

          Ringomon, I agree with most of your comments to this article, particularly this last one. It’s funny how many curmudgeons come out of the woodwork and make silly comments on “young folks and their dern smartyphones and social networking.” Honestly, it really makes them sound out of touch. Heck, even my 63 year old mother has the latest iphone and uses linked-in extensively. Time for them to accept reality, get a clue, and realize these are tools for enhancing our lives… INCLUDING the social, face to face component. I too hope the irony of their commenting on a web log isn’t lost on others. I can tell you that my experience with cars, including meeting others who share my interest, has been enhanced by the digital age (forums, car clubs, craigslist, peer-to-peer car sharing… the list goes on).

    • 0 avatar
      korvetkeith

      I got the mag yesterday and read the article. The comment that struck me was the one claiming that 16 year olds of old couldn’t wait for the liberation that cars offered.

      IMO where cars were once liberating, they are now oppressive. Initial price, loans, insurance, maintenance, gas, tickets and DUI’s are all far to expensive and common for most of the younger generation.

      Then it occurred to me that it would beehoove the auto manufactures to lobby against the puritans and authoritarians that are making cars so expensive. Ill make it my top priority when I’m an auto executive.

      • 0 avatar
        carlisimo

        To some extent the change started happening while I was in high school, during the late ’90s. That’s when limits on new drivers were legislated in California – no driving friends around for a year, no driving at night, things like that. Didn’t have too much an effect, really. Then first Fast and Furious movie came out and started a boom of car enthusiasm – followed by the great scare in which street racing became the most pressing issue for grown-ups. That led to police harassment, especially if you drove a sporty-looking car. It led to adults buying bigger SUVs out of fear of getting hit by a teen in a Civic. It led to a backlash and giant media campaign against tuners of any sort and general mocking of cars with spoilers or more interesting looks than those of a Corolla. I’d say it just about killed off coupes.

        It became uncool to be into cars. Adult car enthusiasts were all a big part of it: car sites and forums mocked Civics and Integras as much as anybody else. Obnoxious exhaust on your Harley or F-150? The internet and the police think you’re awesome. Same thing on the sort of car a young person can afford – get off my lawn (and here’s a fix-it ticket)! Street raced in the ’60s? Everyone wants you to be a VP at a Big 3 manufacturer. Street raced in the ’90s – string him up! And then the old car guys wondered why no one was following in their footsteps.

        • 0 avatar

          I wasn’t sure I agreed at first, but after thinking about it I realized this is a great, thoughtful response.

          • 0 avatar
            juicy sushi

            It is. As the culture changed the intersection between youthful exuberance (and stupidity) and cars became less acceptable. No more DUIs, driving while high or street racing.

            The desire to cut down on teens dying in car accidents became so strong society tried very hard to stop young people from driving under very controlled conditions.

          • 0 avatar
            jim brewer

            I think so too. The graduated driving license changes things. That’s not to say its a bad idea, though. I would rather they start the learner’s permit six months earlier so that the new driver has a learner’s permit for a year, and fewer restrictions after that. I kinda liked having a (bad) chauffeur.

            I remember when I was a teenager my kid sister’s friend moved to New Mexico. A couple of years later she dropped by for a visit in her Daddy’s California Special ‘Stang. Must have been all of 15. I was floored. They really are tough on kids these days. In my town they’ve jailed kids for foolish stuff like setting off some fireworks in the parking lot of a rock concert.

            I have to believe there are some scientific surveys about this instead of random conversations with kids who live in Manhattan. What do they say?

    • 0 avatar

      Are you sure about the “need” part? I had a kind of off-kai once where my interlocutor was a middle-aged woman. When we decided to hop from Asakusa to Sun City, she was so confused by the subway that I had to guide her — and consider that I do not speak the language. Apparently she drives everywhere and never rides subway or train. She lives somewhere in the vast expanses west of Tokyo. When her husband came to pick us up, he arrived in a JDM minivan that was larger than Sienna.

      Now that’s middle-aged, granted, but every one of my friends got a car, sometimes struggling for years. Every freaking one. The last one was a Mazda 2, the one before that was Wagon R. The Mazda guy lives in Tokyo and works in our Eibisu office. He is in his late 20s now.

      Dunno about needs but they really, really want cars, much more so than their American counterparts. To be sure I do not know anyone who lives inside Yamanote. Maybe those people are like Manhattanians. And it seems improper for me to teach you how Japanese people live in general, but here it is.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    If they wanted to get him hooked they should have caught him at 16, given him a girlfriend and a 1983 Delta 88…

  • avatar
    Summicron

    “The truth is, your generation just sucks, dude.”

    The world my generation and its elders have given them sucks more.

  • avatar
    tedward

    hehe, I own that E30, definitely NOT my first car however. Rather, the first car I’ve owned that both needs a complete refresh and that I’m not counting cost in providing it. It’s just like a Miata, except that I actually fit inside, as do my dogs. Also, I can’t help but treat Miatas as disposable goods even though I love them; enjoy, destroy, replace, repeat.
    I live in NYC with multiple cars and I have to say we’re all probably better off if those raised here stay here, and never join the rest of us on the road. Those of my friends that grew up and learned to drive here have absolutely no conception of physics limitations or mechanical sympathy. Tires are treated as unimportant and of equal capability regardless of wear, and the slightest loss of traction or grip is considered a mechanical defect of truly mystical origin. I have one buddy who still gets angry when his Grand Cherokee doesn’t stop on a dime in the snow, despite my increasingly heated explanations and subsequent refusal to let him drive his own vehicle.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    In the second sentence of the third paragraph, the word you wanted to use was “uninterested” rather than “disinterested”. “Disinterested” means that you are unbiased because you have nothing at stake in the outcome. “Uninterested” means you don’t give a shit.

    • 0 avatar
      Southern Perspective

      Thanks Kendahl,

      …for posting the difference between “uniterested” and “disinterested”.

      You may be one of a handful of people under 40 (if this is so) who knows the proper use of these words.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Ah yes, the vintage car. It’s cheaper to own, maintain and insure and it has the cool, authentic credibility of being retro.”

    Until you start chasing down the electrical gremlins and other oddities associated with an aged car. I love old cars and I think a vintage one is an excellent statement to make, but bear in mind the realities if you plan to make one your DD.

    • 0 avatar
      AMC_CJ

      I use a 78’Chevy for DD duty. Keeps the miles and wear off the new cars. I can’t recommend most people doing the same, but as a mechanic and it works for me.

      Just had to replace the starter. A full $70 and maybe 2 hours of labor, all said and done. Besides that, over nearly 3-years and 30k of miles, only other things I’ve had to replace was a fuel pump, water pump, all the coolant hoses (just because), and do some exhaust work. That’s 30K kept off our new cars (or 3 years added to their life-cycle) all for a car that cost nothing in taxes, is cheap to insure, and a few hundred bucks over a few years to keep running.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I’m chasing some oddities now in my 240, which is my current frame of mind. Perhaps a carb’d ride would make sense for some people, but as with any vintage ride you learn its quirks.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          If I knew what these oddities were I could help.

          From my experience almost any beater is going to require some work, its best that the buyer find something they could commit to.

          But at the end of the day you can at least look at it and say “I own that”, or an even better “I fixed that up”.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thx in advance Ryoku75

            Where to begin? So my mechanic is in fact a retired Volvo Master Mechanic and while they work on anything, in my region they are one of the two Volvo specialty shops left, and I have seen plenty a 240, 740, 900 series, and 850 onward come through with 150-400K miles, so its not as if they are fools. I make comments like well if a real nice one comes through let me know. One finally did, a 1993 240 sedan with 152K on the clock and a subs-in-the-trunk stereo system to boot for 2 grand. I do the usual stuff I do with used cars, drive it around, check the fluids, brakes tires etc, all comes back ok, so I buy it.

            The day, and I mean the day I pick it up and drive 6 miles home, it completely breaks down in the middle of a 5 way intersection right in front of the hill to my apartment after stalling twice (but coming back) on the way there. A random motorist behind me appeared and helped turn the car onto the shoulder as I pushed it in a mild snow. I call my tow guy, eventually he shows up and takes it back to the Volvo shop. Week or so later I talk to my mechanic, he solved the problem there are two rubber hoses which lead into the fuel tank, one was corroded away and part of the other fell off in the tank apparently while I was driving it. He apologized saying he and his guys were using the car as a parts runner and it was just bad luck that it died when it did. I say no prob.

            I proceed to drive it for about 5 weeks with no issue (hwy/city) and one cold night in late Feb I drive it home from work (about 2 miles) and halfway there while going up a hill I feel a loss in power, which was similar to the first time I broke down. I felt like something was wrong, so I was able to coast on whatever power it was putting out to a flattened ditch (this is a backwoods road). I call the tow guy and my brother, as the tow guy will be awhile. My brother comes out to get me and gives me severe facepalm over the whole thing, begs me to dump it and tells me but I know you, it will have to burn you again before you will. It gets towed, my guy looks into it he tells me the muffler pipe was bent and says this is why it had no power, I must have back into a snow drift, curb, or something. I say ok, I pick it up, and it drives fine the 6 miles from the shop to the appt.

            Enter four weeks ago, the second time I try to drive it since getting it back, I go down the backwoods road to work and it does exactly the same thing, loss of power, starts shaking the whole car violently, I pull off into the same flat ditch. I screw with it turning it on and off, it will idle fine for 30 seconds, then very rough and shake the car. I say screw it, call the tow guy, and miss work for two days (as my primary car was hit by a deer the previous weekend and was being repaired). I tell him to keep it until its fixed. Once again the Volvo mechanic believes he has it, this time being the O2 sensor was flaky.

            So after not caring to get it for most of last week and this one, I go and get it on Monday, drives home fine, drives Tuesday fine, drove it last night to work on a customer computer. Driving home last night it twice lost acceleration power for about three seconds, but it never died and got me home fine. Today I go to move it when I came home from work and now the thing won’t even turn over.

            After the third incident I started investigating the car’s problems myself and how it worked. I have records that show both fuel pumps were changed in the last five years (although not sure on filter), and my mechanic assures me he already cleaned the throttle body and IAC valve. When it was running, it always started rough (less rough after the O2 sensor) but after sometime it smooths out. I learned where the Fuel Relay was but I didn’t disconnect it to verify age or replace it yet (it says Volvo and is prob the original). Given today’s incident, a fuel relay may help but I’m wondering if the issue still lie in the pumps or the lines. I like the car and if I could get it reasonable running it would make a great secondary car (the AC even works) but as it stands I’m concerned I’ve got an oddball.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          I would suggest checking the relay myself and the filter, if the pumps are still good.

          Check the air filter, spark plugs, spark plug wiring, and make sure that the firing order is correct, a bad air filter or incorrectly installed custom air filter will give similar symptoms to what you’ve mentioned.

          I suggest to look it over and make sure that everythings stock too, Volvos don’t take kindly to bad modifications. Make sure that your running good gas too, these cars will run on regular but they’re are meant for 89 Octane, premium gas is suggested by the Volvo owners manual.

          Let me know how it works out, I may post me e-mail so we don’t start a mini-thread.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Its nice out today I’ll go out and verify some of these things you suggested. Thx.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Ok so I checked her out. The plugs look newer and are not soiled up. The wiring same deal, its not Volvo OEM for sure but its not old and is not cracked up. I had trouble getting at the air filter although what I can see is one with maybe 10-15K miles on it, assuming it ever runs again this is something I could change. I have never put 89 in it and I am very doubtful the previous owner of 8 years did either but again something to try.

            I checked the date on the fuel relay, it is from 2000 and the leads were not gunked up or rusted out. The car is trying to start when you hit the ignition, but it never turns over. Personally I suspect the fuel system, either one of the pumps, the filter, the relay or wiring, or some combination. The car is currently broken down in my apt parking lot so I’m unable to do much with it until its towed other than check stuff. Thx for your help in the matter… 28carslater at gmail if you have any other thoughts.

  • avatar
    Numbers_Matching

    I look at my own kids (both just under 10) for an indication of car future beyond the Gen Yers: both couldn’t give a rat’s ass about cars, or toy cars for that matter. They are at the ages that I, growing up, was already starting to take them apart.

    My response? I’m fine with their ‘uninterest’. The ‘car’ has been around for 120 years(?)in some form or another. It’s time for society to move on (when did society’s facination with trains end?).

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      There are still a lot of us into trains, but I would have to say that interest took a dive when steam locos went away. I came in right at the end of that era, but I remember little of it.

      I have a friend with a daughter who refused to get her driver’s license, first it was, “I don’t have the money”, even though her parents told her that they would pay for gas, then when grandma died and left her some cash, that didn’t work anymore, it was “I’m too nervous”, but she seemed to have no problems driving relative’s snowmobiles and 4 wheelers at insane speeds. Her younger brother and sister’s activities were getting to be a major hassle for her parents to get them from/to, and finally she was given an ultimatum at almost 18. No drivers license, no paying for her cellphone, internet, no paying for almost everything she did, if she didn’t start driving. So she got it, and almost as soon as she did, she complained about what she was given to drive, an old jade green Taurus. “It’s so slow” was her major complaint. her 15 year old brother took the Taurus for a “test drive” and managed to hit a freeway overpass in only about 600 feet from where he started. Due to the age of it, the Taurus was scrapped, and she began having fantasies of Jukes, Miatas, and other girly dream machines. Reality was a hard hit, as her next vehicle was/is a 2004 GMC Sierra 1500 4×4 extended cab pickup. Her dad bought it with cosmetic damage for almost nothing, and his body shop owning buddy fixed it up very cheaply, and it’s been rock solid. Her main complaints at first were it’s size, parking, and the stereo, a real POS that GM should have been ashamed to put into anything, let alone a $30,000+ truck. I couldn’t stand mine either. The complaints about the size of it soon faded, but the stereo complaints continued, until her dad had to drive it for a week while his Charger was in the shop that the true badness of the stereo sunk into him, it’s not the speakers, it IS the head unit itself. When she got it back, she was shocked to see a new aftermarket head unit installed, bought from me. After I showed her how to do everything, she now doesn’t complain a bit. And her gas usage shows she has totally overcome her resistance to driving. I work with a lot of people in their early 20’s and almost all the complaints they have about driving is due to one thing, cost to own, insure, and fuel a car. Nothing else.

  • avatar
    Reino

    I’m sorry, but an overprivileged white youth who was raised in the EAST VILLAGE is not a representation of “Generation Why”. If this kid ever was in need of wheels, all he would have to do is call up daddy’s chauffeur. Someone growing up in this bubble is immune to a lot more social realities than just cars.

    How about taking an underprivileged youth from the inner south side of Chicago? Someone who has to take the bus and El to his menial grocery store job, because his parents CAN’T AFFORD wheels? I’m am sure you would not find the same apathetic view towards cars as this kid has.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      What does “overprivileged” mean

      • 0 avatar
        Reino

        Someone who not only won the gene-pool lottery by being born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but also gets a free trip to California to drive Lambos at the expense of a magazine.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      I’m about sick of this right here, Reino.

      Contrary to what urban ethics, gyno/afrocentric art/history departments or Lifetime Television tell you– White men are people too. Even white men with money.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      Well, I can tell you what my not-in-the-least-bit underprivileged cousins who grew up off 87th did. One of them bought a Doug DeMuro special 1995 Range Rover, and summarily realized that his paper route (I feel obligated to add that he was 27 at the time) wasn’t going to pay Range Ro’ maintenance bills. That thing was parked/inoperable within 9 months, and was then repossessed by whatever dumbass gave him the loan.

      The other made an arguably smarter move than buying a Range Rover. He stole his cars, and eventually went to jail for GTA.

      My opinion- Gen Y is FUBAR… :)

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    There’s a reason I don’t read car magazines anymore. Their folks tend to live in ivory towers, and have lost all connection to common folks. Their ‘car dilemma’ consist on deciding whether to take the Bugatti or the Gumpert Apollo or some other kind of exotica most people never even seen on the road, for their jaunt today. And they endlessly debate whether the Maserati Quattroporte is better than the Bentley Continental or some such. And of all the car magazines out there, Road & Track seems to be the worst afflicted, the snootiest, most elitist of the bunch. Maybe the magazine was intended for those Manhattanites oveprivileged, high class folks, who knows.

    At least TTAC writers seem to have to live in the real world.

  • avatar
    rustyra24

    This should be more like a National Geographic Article. They should have taken a sample from across the United States. I am from Montana and a car is a chance at freedom or just something you learn to work on the farm. I bet Midwest is like this as well. People in rural areas learn to drive at an early age. We do not have mass transit.

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      Yeah, thanks for making that point.
      Fundamentally, who gives fat rat’s ass about disaffected little urban snots? Let them burn up their energy with flashmobs.

      When you have open country, you get interested in cars big time.

    • 0 avatar
      Reino

      Agreed. I came from Suburban Chicagoland (159 blocks south, to be exact), and the only way I was able to go spend a Saturday downtown would be by my mom dropping me off at the train station. Once I got a car, a whole new world of freedom opened up to me, and I was able to see parts of the city that were more than five blocks away from an El station. Hell, one day my friends and I drove all the way up and down 159 blocks of Cicero Avenue just to see it.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Poppycock. As in all things, there are two sides to this issue. Yes, a new generation of consumers are eschewing the car in favor of electronic doodads and a virtual world. But, who do you think is cheering on the Ken Blocks of this world, carrying on the drift-ish Faster and Furiouser automotive culture? Same generation. Different kids.

    The problem is consumerism. Or lack of it. You’ve got one set of kids who don’t give a rat about owning, or even driving, a car. And another set of young adults mad for cars, but have a difficult time affording one. Have you seen the employment figures for high school kids? Recent college grads? Have you seen the average student loan payment book?

    The kids, they’re alright. The economy needs work.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    “It’s imperative that we support Larry Webster, Sam Smith and the rest of the gang in their attempts to create an American car magazine that we can all be proud of.”

    Um, why exactly?

  • avatar
    cargogh

    I actually bought this Monday. I think it was the first car mag purchased in over a year, but I’ve enjoyed RandT for 40 yrs, so I should support and buy the newly revised issue. I could enjoy any of them more if I just ripped out the 10 pages of floor mat ads immediately. Sometimes my desire for things to remain may be greater than letting something new replace them. Like car rags, Lincoln and Mitsubishi.

    Having ridden with several new/newer young drivers over the last few years, there seems a lack of them that actually enjoy the process. I grew up on a farm and turning 16 meant some freedom. If only for a few hours, I’m outa here. I was tall and a good driver, so taking the truck to town to pick up hog feed or a tractor part at 14 in a ’72 XLT was more chore than fun. But anyone whose ever driven a curvy road with an old I-beam suspension loaded with 2300 lbs of ground corn understands. Look! The tires are here, but the truck and I are over HERE.

    Like Ellis and the subway, driving offers little in terms of freedom. There are so many alternatives now, without the responsibility of maintenance, the hassel of parking, and the incredible costs of fuel and insurance.
    I guess it is similar to hunting. My friends and I used to gig frogs, shoot snakes in ponds at night, quail, duck, squirrel and deer hunt. I never did the doves, but those hunts were huge and popular. This required getting to an area, along with a healthy respect for guns. If I couldn’t drive across a field without turning over or getting stuck, or if accidentally shot a friend occasionally, it really wouldn’t work. Maybe video games have supplanted young men’s needs to hunt for real and drive for entertainment.

    Perhaps not having an enthusiast parent/mentor or older sibling is the culprit. The worse younger drivers I know are either too cautious or oblivious to the act. Not much in between to show enjoyment. About one third drive me crazy with not only a complete stop, but a nice pause also. This can be at 4-way without another vehicle in sight. Out of view, I’ve watched them drive off. These overly cautious ones look around, do the seat belt, check the guages, signal, pull out and go with the click click precision of a good pilot. I thought I just made them nervous and it was for show like I was giving them their test. It was not.

    The other 2/3s usually have the seat reclined and hate wearing seat belts or using turn signals. These are tailgating multitaskers eager to display their skills at drinking a Coke, changing songs, adjusting AC, and texting while weaving through traffic from a jack rabbit take off to stopping as far over the line as possible without getting a ticket. The smokers have are even better. With/without limit funds, there is no sense of fuel economy, brake life or higher insurance rates incurred from tickets. These guys create more road rage than they display, for they seldom notice another driver’s infractions, and wouldn’t recognize it if they did. I hope they get better before Darwin thins them. Until they do, pedestrians, opening car doors, and vintage re-chromed back bumpers will suffer.

    People are still going to buy cars, but for many it may not be a shame they wait a little later in life to do so.
    If kids like Ellis do consider something like a $3000 BMW, but there isn’t anyone to help find a good example, and the parents are not mechanics, but want to help financially with something new and under warranty, look at the cheap options. For example. the new Mirage could get 50 mpg, sell for $9000, and last for 400,000. So what? It is hideous. Sorry mom, dad. I’m just going to wait.

  • avatar
    seattle4r70w

    I work in the outdoor recreation industry and one of our recent market research papers talked about physical space and desired or required mobility as an important factor in this shift. The author was coming at the topic from the perspective of the paddling industry and he felt that we are on a potentially permanent trend of living in denser and more compact housing compared with our parents/grandparents. His perspective was that his industry needs to embrace renting, leasing and shared ownership models in order to stay relevant and accessible.

    As someone born in the early 70’s on a small farm, we had room then for couple cars in the yard plus a big barn/garage. I now live on a 4500 sq ft Seattle city lot in a biggish (2800 sq ft) house with a single garage and I still have to rent garage space to store my project car and I still have about zero space (never mind time) to work on it.

    The article also spoke to a generational shift of people desiring more “agile” living arrangements where they can move quickly and easily for social and employment reasons. This, IIRC, was less of the great American Manifest Destiny relocation and more of a “if I get that job in South Seattle, I should move down from North Seattle next month to make the commute shorter and cheaper”. The surveyed population had a strong negative perspective on bulky physical goods like kayaks, large furniture and even books.

    I would guess that some sort of inexpensive DD and/or Zipcar arrangement that you have zero emotional investment in and will park anywhere may fit into this lifestyle for a long time. My gravest concern is for anything remotely resembling recreational ownership like a project, race or vintage car.

    Disclaimer – This is certainly a fundamentally urban/suburban perspective but I’m not sure it’s totally irrelevant given the migratory trends of youth in 2013.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    The update to R&T impressed me – it was more than just change the font type and artwork that other try every so often.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    What would you expect? If you had grown up in the 50s or 60s in NYC or any other major US metropolitan area you likely could care less about cars. Cars are now only relevant in the “fly over country” and I wonder how much longer that will be viable given the EPA etc. It was not so long ago some intellectuals proposed we abandon the entire midwest and let it revert to prairie circa 1800.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      That’s just not true. Cars have always been, and remains essential on the west coast. Much of the american ‘car culture’ is centered around Los Angeles.

  • avatar

    While the “today’s kids don’t like cars” dialog is the more popular to have in the world of auto writing, I’m having a hard time believing that areas outside of urban cores don’t still require eventual car ownership.

    Put more simply: in the majority of America for the majority of adult Americans, car ownership remains a necessity.

    I’d also argue that that the core of young automotive enthusiasts is still as big and strong as it ever was. Between eBay, CL, Kijijijijiji, forums and online parts suppliers, it’s easier to be into older cars now than ever before.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I think the real issue is that young people aren’t buying all those new cars for the “Young, Hip, Urban trendsetting individuals”, instead they’re buying used cars so they have money left over for college and smartphones.

    On the other hand, people have suggested that generation Y doesn’t like driving due to a cars cost of ownership and what not, thats a poor excuse when you consider the money they spend on more unnecessary things like smartphone aps and tiny pet dogs.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    I get that a car is unnecessary in Manahattan. But doesn’t this kid have any interest at all in exploring the greater world outside of Manhattan? I think the better introduction to cars, would be to put him in an open car and taking a drive through the Adirondecks (or just any scenic drive).

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    I’m one of those car enthusiasts that doesn’t really mind that young people don’t care about cars. I’d be fine if more people got ZipCars and bus passes. More road for me.

    I do worry though about what that demographic will do in terms of public policy once they feel they can inflict massive penalties to the car ownership experience without it “hurting” them (even though it does). I can see massive tax hikes for fuel, more expensive registration, more emissions testing, stricter CAFE standards, etc. because they don’t participate in it.

    Sort of like renters that have no problem raising property taxes, even though they’re too stupid to figure out their landlord is only going to raise their rent to make up the difference.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    As a guy who used to live in NYC (I still have a place there) until recently let bring so reality to this discussion. Suffice to say cars are not in trouble.

    1) Almost half of New Yorkers STILL OWN CARS. Actually the rate of ownership has CLIMBED since 2000. It’s at 46 percent right now. This is in a place where you REALLY DON’T NEED to drive.

    2) Unless you are willing to get run over by a cabbie (ride a motorcycle, moped, bicycle) it’s still unpleasant to get around that city by any means. Truth is walking is pretty damn slow. Where I live I can go to the grocery store, dry cleaner, out to eat, wall mart etc all with in a little 15 minute drive. Sometimes there is traffic but doing similiar errands in NYC is actually more time consuming especially if you want some choice is how much many you spend. Those ‘neighborhood’ places vastly more expensive then a Target. In short the car free are NOT making out like bandits. Those Gen Y guys will be moving out of the city in a few years when they start having kids.

    3) And that’s the BEST place in America for living without a car. The rest of the country is vastly worse. Sorry worry not car lovers people will be driving cars in this country for years to come. Its really the best option in most places right now – outside of places with very high urban density.

    The real problem for car manufacturers is simple expense and competition. Driving is not disappearing. I’d expect a boom with self-driving cars in the future in fact. Our richest demographic is the senior citizen group..they are going to buy these.

    • 0 avatar
      Freddie

      CelticPete —

      Is 46% for Manhattan or the whole city? In Queens, for example, you can find a lot of “suburban” type areas where car ownership is useful, if not an absolute necessity. But I would suspect in Manhattan alone the percentage would be much lower.

      • 0 avatar
        CelticPete

        You are correct. It’s per household (not per person) and includes all the borrows. Manhattan specific is 22% (according to another website). I lived in NYC and I personally wouldn’t even WANT to own a car there. Cars just don’t work for local transportation in that kind of density..

        But even that number is probably a little up. The point I am trying to make is that this idea that we are suddenly moving to a carless society because millenials are broke and live in NYC is not really true.

        In most places you need a car and in most of NYC (including the boroughs) lots of people own cars. Look at this picture of areas where car ownership has risen..

        http://www.streetsblog.org/2011/04/06/new-yorks-car-ownership-rate-is-on-the-rise/

        What’s happening is that millenials are moving to NYC and they don’t own cars there. This is likely to be a temporary demographic shift (that’s a different debate but we see demographics that indicate 20 and early 30s somethings will leave cities in later 30s and 40s).

        Its not some doom for the car industry and that’s pretty clear if you live anywhere outside NYC. This country is totally dominated by the automobile. And that’s not changing anytime soon.

        From an international perspective both public and personal transportation in NYC is awful (its not a bike paradise and its not a train paradise). Its just really a terrible place for car ownership. The insurance cost were no joke 3x more then what I paid in the Bay area – and that was 15 years ago (and that was on a Honda Civic).

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    This is so ridiculous. Young people have NEVER bought new cars in any quantity. Some lucky ones got new cars bought for them. Kids in the centers of big cities don’t care about cars – wow, that’s a news flash too!

    The only thing new about the current generation is they are so electronically connected that their whining is amplified. I graduated with a law degree into the mid-90s recession and could not find a job, and had plenty of student loan debt for the time. Wah, wah, wah. I didn’t buy my first new car until I was 31, and my next at 40. I put in plenty of years underemployed and underpaid.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      These days carmakers are simply distraught over the fact their obscene efforts to appeal to youngersters can’t get younger buyers, why they’re so bent on appealing to younger buyers is beyond me.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        They’re afraid someone else will appeal to younger buyers and they’ll miss out on even more sales as those people age. It played out that way with the baby boomers. Younger buyers aren’t as viable a market now as they were 40 years ago, but it is nice to think that the domestics learned something from their past.

  • avatar
    Cubista

    Wait…EIGHTEEN GRAND FOR AN E46 M3???????

    How many years into the future does this article take place, exactly?

  • avatar
    TW4

    The article is genius, either intentionally or accidentally, b/c it juxtaposes all of the bullshit with the essence of automobile ownership. They give Ellis the grand tour of automobiling which does little to phase him. This could be interpreted as a metaphor for all of the idiotic marketing and penny-dreadful Gen-Y-cars designed to ‘excite’ America’s youths about car ownership.

    What does work? ACCESSIBILITY. Ellis is attracted to the simplicity, accessibility, and uniqueness of an E30. Those attributes cannot be acquired in most used cars so what are the manufacturers waiting for? Build agricultural automobiles that can be taken apart and customized with a socket set. Use toxic design attributes like 3-pedals-only, two-door-only, manual locks and windows only, and any other attributes that cut costs and send older higher-income customers scrambling for the exits.

    Stop panicking, and start building.

    • 0 avatar
      Dingleberrypiez

      Good point. I’m not sure about your conclusion regarding “agricultural automobiles,” but I agree that accessibility breeds interest. I think this is why so many of us prefer Top Gear episodes that focus on attainable beaters instead of super cars

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    My son is interested in cars and spends hours playing driving games so I think he wants a car, whether it makes sense for him to buy a car is another story. This kid lives in the Portland OR suburbs and has two bicycles (cyclocross and mtb) and he wants to go to college at Portland State where a bicycle and a transit pass are far more economical than a car. my daughter may be a more interesting experiment, since it’s pretty clear my son is at least a latent gearhead.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    I am always looking for an excuse to buy a motorcycle. They are great fun. They get good gas mileage. THey are inexpensive.

    Problem is per mile driven the death rate is 35x higher then a car. Driving a car is already the most unsafe activity most Americans do. Seeing that I want to live a long time I just can’t justify it.

    Huh. Wanted this comment to appear under the motorcyle guy thread..

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    They say ‘too expensive’, but when were brand new cars evr ‘affordable’ to average 18 year olds? Only rich kids get brand spanking new cars, since the days of Henry Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      VA Terrapin

      Car ownership costs are expensive as well. Even if you factor out car payments and depreciation, you still have to factor gas (which for a car driven regularly costs at least as much as a smartphone plan by itself), insurance (always expensive for the young), routine and non-routine maintenance, consumables, license and registration fees, emissions and inspection testing where required, and car tax in states that have this.

    • 0 avatar
      JD23

      That’s very true. I had an eight year old car in HS and no car in college because every cent in my name was consumed by $30k per year in private university tuition. Long term, the money spent on education was a far better investment than having a nice car when I was 20. Most of the young still have at least a tangential interest in cars, but economic realities interfere.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Most kids from middle class families have never owned a new car at least they are in the mid 20s that I can remember.

    I do know of some that were given hand-me-down cars from their parents. And, yes a few have bought new vehicles.

    Also, here we are blogging away talking about kids on their smartphones.

    Are we any worse than them and if the same opportunities were available to us would we have been any different?

  • avatar
    jeffredo

    Got my license as soon as I could in California – age 16 (and back then the high school provided driver’s training). Fast forward 30 years and my two nephews in their early 20s still don’t have their driver’s license and are still bumming rides from mom, friends and anyone else they can. Neither wants to drive or own a vehicle either. When asked why don’t they have steady jobs they say “I don’t have transportation” as if mom should still be ferrying them around in her minivan like they were 12. I sometimes worry about this generation and its refusal to grow up (especially guys).


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