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The Grandparent’s Guide to Sharing Your Love of Classic Cars with Your Grandchild

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 Finding common interests with your grandchildren in a rapidly-evolving technological world is tricky; getting them interested in dated technology, like classic cars, can be even trickier. Sharing your passion is a wonderful way to bond and share a piece of yourself they might not otherwise know about, as well as an opportunity to pass on your knowledge to future generations. But in a world of smartphones, tablets, and there’s-an-app-for-that, how can you inspire them to look back instead of forward?

Don’t worry — you can spark their interest, and we’re here to help you ignite and fan the flames! This guide will help you create an invaluable bond with your grandchild by sharing your love of classic cars. Whether you routinely fix them up, read about them at length, or visit car shows every chance you get, there are plenty of ways to get your grandchild interested and engaged. Keep in mind that even if vintage cars don’t end up being their all-time favorite hobby, the time you spend bonding over your passion with your grandchild will always be time well-spent, and you’ll create memories to last a lifetime.

Engaging Your Grandkids in the Idea of Classic Cars

If your grandchild is brand new to the topic of classic cars, there are a few ways to pique his or her interest. If you have a car you’re working on yourself, let them hang out around the garage while you fix it up. Share small nuggets of information as you’re working, even if you simply talk out some of the steps. Invite him or her to look over your shoulder when you get to a particularly interesting repair, or ask for (minor) assistance during a complicated step in the process. Remember to put it in terms that they can understand, explaining things as simply as possible. Elaborate if your grandchild starts to ask questions, but don’t overwhelm them with more information than they’ll need. If he or she doesn’t inquire any further about it, don’t force too much additional trivia on them. He or she may not be immediately captivated, and that’s OK — for now, just focus on planting the seed.

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Take advantage of opportunities to continue the conversation about antique cars as often as you can. Show them the custom headlights that finally arrived in the mail and explain how they’re different from those on modern cars. Going out to shop for a part? Ask them to tag along and explain what it is you’re looking for. Just be careful not to rope them in for more than they bargained for; if you plan on visiting several different shops to compare prices and availability, skip the ride along. Kids have a relatively limited attention span as they’re developing, so keep the lessons short as you’re still nurturing their interest. The hope is to create a genuine curiosity that they actively seek to satisfy, so do what you can to make it feel natural and not forced upon them.

Don’t forget to mention why you have such an interest in antique cars. Did your career as a mechanic teach you to appreciate the original, classic complexities of automobiles? Maybe you grew up in the country and always loved visits to the city and seeing the variety of cars on the road. Or perhaps it’s a passion your father passed on to you. Whatever the reason, explain how your love for classic cars blossomed and developed. Show your grandchild it’s not just something you enjoy, it’s something that’s sincerely important to you.

Do what you can to appeal to interests you already know your grandchild has. For instance, if he or she loves science or history, discuss the evolution of automobiles in the last century. For the more technical side, focus on the technological advancements. For the social side, discuss why it was important to move forward from horse-drawn to engine-powered mobility: getting help in an emergency, transporting goods, or even just a family’s ability to run errands in town. Which major auto advancements do you remember hearing about as a kid, and which ones got you the most excited to learn more about cars?

And don’t forget to remind your grandchild: the cars they see on the road today will be vintage someday. It’s probably a point they hadn’t considered and could really give them something to think about. Did you have any ideas about what cars would look like 50 years in the future? What features did you imagine them to have? Were any of your predictions right? Ask your grandchild what he or she thinks cars will be like in the future. If they’re artistic, have them draw you a picture of a car they think may exist in 2066.

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You can even consider buying your grandchild a book about classic cars — or giving them one of your own. Sure, they could look things up on the internet, but they might be more likely to actually flip through a book that’s readily compiled and available to them. They might even find it especially fascinating to look at classic cars in a more classic style, and if you do have one of your own to offer, it’s something special that you’ve handed down to them. Regardless of whether or not he or she ends up becoming a classic car lover like you, your grandchild will always treasure being given an item that spent years and years in your home, and will spend the years to come in theirs.

Heading to a Classic Car Show

Keep your grandchild’s age in mind when it comes to picking a car show to attend; if it’s one you want to spend a significant amount of time at, consider going on your own the first day and bringing your grandchild another day. If he or she is relatively young, they might not have the energy for an all-day event. Going ahead to scout out which cars and displays you’ll want to show them can really help make the most of your time together later.

Consider creating some kind of game or scavenger hunt for your grandchild to complete while at the car show. Make it simple enough that they won’t be overwhelmed, but engaging enough that they’ll be excited to start: classic car bingo, for example. Older kids might enjoy taking photos, especially if they have a creative side.

Going to a car show together is also a great opportunity for your grandchild to work on his or her social skills. Encourage them to ask the car owners any questions they might have. If he or she is too shy, approach the person together and introduce yourself and your grandchild, then ask the question. Stick with, “We were wondering…” versus “My grandchild wants to know…”. It’s important for your grandchild to feel like a part of the conversation, but shining the light directly on him or her will likely just add to their uneasiness.

If there are any hands-on displays, or if a car owner gives your grandchild permission to take a closer look at the inside of their vehicle, take advantage. Remember: seeing a vintage car is probably pretty cool for them, but actually getting to touch and sit inside one is really special! Take plenty of photos both together and separately, and always keep an eye out for the shot he or she will be excited to show off to friends. A photo of your grandchild behind the wheel of an old Corvette is definitely worthy of show and tell!

Some cars will have their engines displayed, so offer mini lessons on what’s under the hood. How are these engines different than those in most cars today? Why were certain changes made? (Again, remember to explain in terms he or she will understand.) Ask the owner to give you insight on what it’s like to keep up the vehicle, whether it’s complicated to find parts and which special precautions must be made in order to preserve its glory. Be sure to point out to your grandchild the level of care, devotion, and commitment it takes in order to own and restore a classic car. Perhaps he or she has something in their own life that requires the same level of dedication, like a treasured collection, and it will be meaningful to see that their hard work in caring for it will pay off!

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Keep in mind that your entire outing shouldn’t be rigidly planned out. Work together to knock out your scavenger hunt, but don’t make it your primary focus. Be flexible and see where the day takes you. Plan on spending only a couple of hours at the show, but be open to staying longer if your grandchild is excited and eager to stay. (Just don’t forget to let Mom and Dad know!) See if there’s anything in particular they want to check out a little more closely, whether it’s that beautiful Duesenberg a few rows over or even the flame paint job on a nearby Mustang. Point out which cars are your favorite and why, and ask him or her to share theirs. If the show offers programs with featured cars, use it to track which ones you each liked best and why. It will be a great way to recap everything you saw on the ride home, and the notes will be fun to look at for years to come.

Sharing your love of classic cars with your grandchild isn’t just about finding common ground: it’s about finding a unique way to spend time together and bond. If you don’t live close by, look for opportunities to share your passion from afar. Send your grandchild photos of the old Model T on display at your local mall, or drop them a postcard from a car show you went to on your own. Your grandchild will love sharing a special interest with you, not to mention schooling all of their friends on classic car trivia!

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