Fewer Teens Are Driving–What Does This Mean for Vintage Cars?
Photography by Afshin Behnia for Petrolicious
Back in January 2013, Petrolicious featured an interview with Mr. Kevin Boesky, a then-16-year-old owner of a 1941 Studebaker Champion (check it out here). Kevin and his car, as our headline pointed out, make for an unlikely pair in an age in which young people seem to be losing interest not only in pre-World War II automobiles but in driving anything at all. Granted, demographic data on the ownership of pre-War cars is hard to come by, so you’ll just have to trust our impressions, but the numbers on teen driving support our hypothesis and we wonder what they portend for the world of vintage cars.
According to a 2013 American Automobile Association report, only 44 percent of American teenagers get their driver’s license within a year of turning sixteen, and just over half are street-legal by the time they reach legal adulthood, compared with more than two-thirds of eighteen year-olds twenty years ago. Perhaps driving is too expensive nowadays; maybe it’s no longer the symbol of maturity that it once was; perhaps teenagers have moved past cars to other interests. Regardless, teens just don’t drive as much as they used to.
Teens, as it turns out, tend to become adults and adults buy most of the world’s vintage cars. But will today’s children have the same passion for vintage cars and, especially, the sorts of pre-War vehicles that can’t hope to match the performance of newer sports cars? These same adults will also be among the first generation to commute to work in driverless cars, which will be subject to ever-tighter emissions regulations.
What attitudes toward vintage cars have you seen among today’s teens? What do these attitudes, especially when coupled with the other trends mentioned above, tell you about the future of the vintage car universe?