(The Classics Perspective is a column exclusive to AutoTrader Classics and written by our own Online Editor Brian Medford. We hope you enjoy it.)
I have no idea if my son likes cars. At 12 weeks of age he really only likes three things: eating, sleeping, and pooping. I'd like to think he likes cars too. His closet is filled with clothes that feature car themes. Little car shoes, little car pants, little car jackets, etc. But what will be the spark (if any) that makes him a "car guy"? If it happens at all that spark will probably come from the same place mine did: Dad.
My Dad never sold himself as a car guy. Sure he owned a shop and had a few cars in his time, but he was never a mechanic. The closest he got was changing tires. Back then all the store managers wore a button down shirt and tie. My Dad would run the tire changer with his tie tucked into his shirt for safety. He got out in the shop with employees and worked with them side-by-side.
I never got to see my Dad work like that. By the time I came around my Dad was stuck behind a desk doing all the paperwork that it takes to run a business. I spent my summer days at the shop being expressly told not to bother the mechanics (which I promptly ignored). My father had other plans for me. He began teaching me all the finer points of running a business. He was creating his future through me. I would take over the store some day and he would retire. I wasn't going to be a mechanic, I would be a businessman. Funny how things turn out.
Over the years my father shared his love of cars in different ways with my brother and I. My brother inherited Dad's '69 Cutlass S while I got an '83 Camaro. Luckily Dad knew the importance of having a cool car in high school. He had a '57 MGA that he loved dearly. It wasn't until he married my mother that the impracticality of a little British sportscar reared its head. The MGA was sold, Dad got drafted and time moved on.
By the time I was old enough to drive I knew I had to tinker with my cars. Dad sat back and tried his best to convince me to leave my car alone but I never listened. I didn't harm my car but I am sure I didn't help it. It wasn't until I was out of high school and needed tuition money did my father and I hit upon a great idea. My father would find cars that needed mechanical work and I would fix them. We would sell them and use the money to pay for my college tuition.
By then my father had closed his shop and my future had taken a different direction. Student loans were out of the question in my mind and financial aid only goes so far. So my father and I began a "Sanford & Son" style garage operation in our basement for the next several years. Dad had great talent in finding broken cars and I grew fearless in my mechanical abilities. We fixed and sold all kinds of cars, pickup trucks, an RV, and even a monster truck. We'd spend countless afternoons in the driveway talking as I wrenched away. Through that entire time my father never once told me I couldn't do something. Those were the defining moments in my love of cars. Through my love of cars I am living my father's belief in me. Every time I resurrect an old car or make a tricky repair I know that my Dad was the one who made it possible. And now I have to find a way to pass that same confidence on to my son.
Our hobby has a rich past, but it also has a bright future. Passing on a love of cars to our sons and daughters not only ensures our hobby's future, it is also a chance to pass on life skills that can prove far more useful than any hand tool.
(Brian is an avid automotive enthusiast who grew up in his father's shop and has had grease under his fingernails from an early age. He has been involved in the classic automotive industry for well over a decade. He has owned several classic cars and is currently focused on the Oldsmobile brand.)