listen up you youngsters

I want a word with you about your lack of INTEREST in cars

4y ago

For years, I've been listening to people telling me that the car will destroy the planet. And sometimes, their arguments have even been faintly convincing. But it turns out not to be a problem at all, because the car will die out from lack of interest before it does any permanent damage.

We were discussing on our car show the other day how the number of people taking the driving test in Britain has fallen by 70 per cent in the last decade. We take this to mean young people, as older folk can either already drive or have decided, like my mate Ben (aged 60), not to bother.

And as a result of this, new cars are becoming boring, because they're just elaborate financial instruments designed to draw people into a lease scheme or hire-purchase deal, which is where the car industry is actually making its money. No kid wants dad to buy a Citroen C4 Cactus in the way I was desperate for my dad to buy a Rover 3500, because they're more interested in Snapchat.

No kid wants dad to buy a Citroen C4 Cactus in the way I was desperate for my dad to buy a Rover 3500, because they're more interested in Snapchat

James May

To be honest, if I were 13 I would be more interested in Snapchat as well, but it hadn't been invented when I was a lad and one of the few things to get excited about in grimy and dysfunctional 1970s Britain was cars. So cars were what we dreamt about, when we'd finished thinking about Karen Bradley's emerging breasts.*

So it seems to make sense. The next generation isn't interested in cars, so cars are becoming dull.

But I've since thought about this a bit more, and it's horse's arse. For a start, I'd forgotten that I was young once, but now I've recalled the experience I remember that a lot of cars were boring then as well. The Austin Allegro? The Morris Marina? The Hillman Hunter? I wouldn't wish these things on Donald Trump's barber, and I certainly didn't have posters of them on my wall. I had a Lamborghini Countach, and no-one's dad could even begin to own one of those. And anyway, I've since driven one and that was crap as well.

No; the truth is that declining interest in cars is actually great news for those of us who still like them. Hold on a minute.

I'm forever hearing people on the radio and television lamenting how bell-ringing or morris dancing or wife-throwing are not drawing in the younger generation, and so they're going to die out. Everyone throws up their arms and goes Oh no! There won't be any more (insert dreary outmoded passtime) once this generation has gone.

So what? So long as some people from the current generation are interested in spoiling the experience of a pub garden by running around it with fairy bells on their boots, it will continue. The younger generation isn't in the least bit interested, so when it mercifully dies out, they won't care. So what's the problem? The dead are hardly going to be hacked off about it. They'll be too angry about being dead.

So it doesn't bother me in the slightest that my young nephews and nieces won't share my love of cars. I can continue with it as long as I'm alive, and, more to the point, they won't be cluttering up the road and spoiling it for me. When I'm gone they can throw my Ferrari in the river and make a short and amusing video about it.

More to the point, this decline in being bovs will actually improve cars. I've argued for decades that cars will eventually become a hobby, just as sailing boats and biplanes have. Nobody actually needs these things any more, so the ones that survive or are freshly made for enthusiasts are better than the ones we had when they were mere appliances and instruments of work.

The same will happen with cars. Once nobody needs a car simply as a means to move about (because we will have invented the anti-matter air capsule) there won't be any dreary grey diesel hatchbacks available to drive away for £99 a month thevalueofyourcarmaygodownetcetc. What car lover would want one of those? Car makers, if they want to remain players in the twilight of their business, will have to make affordable cars that are wonderful to drive. The roads will be populated by the likes of the MX-5 or a hot Clio.

Bring it on; I can't wait. Less traffic and better cars, all owned by people who are interested in what they're doing.

Thinking of learning to drive? Please don't.

*Her name has been changed just in case she's actually reading this. Her real name was Deborah.


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Comments (117)

  • I am only 27 years old, and I live in the states. I come from a slightly broken family, and the part that wasn't broken was pretty much never around. In order to keep my mind off the misery of my childhood, I devoted my time, and indeed my life to cars. Most of my days were miserable, and it was difficult to get out of bed in the morning. My house however was located pretty much right next to and interstate where I live. I-471 is a short interstate between Kentucky and Ohio, and it being so short, many cars rush past either fleeing from the police, or just racing each other. My home was also near a place called Weideman hill on which sits beautiful mansions and with that, lovely cars. Ferrari, Porsche, and even the odd Aston or two I could see every day as they set off for work, or for a cruise on the weekends.

    It was next to this highway I developed my love for cars. At 7 I helped my father rebuild his 350 in his truck. (Well helped in a way a 7 year old ever could.) I fell in love with motor sports and cars since then. The first car I legally drove was my mother's 1992 3.25i BMW. It was just a 4 Door saloon but on the days I took it to school I was eager to show off my ride, when every one around me had small Honda hatchbacks or Toyotas. Cars have since, and I'm sure always will be my greatest love. They've helped me through my rough past, and I'm sure will lead me to the bright future. Cars quite literally saved my life.

      4 years ago
  • Actually teens are more interested in cars in video games such as grand theft auto etc. The idea of these kids driving after having played such games is rather frightening to think about. I admit, I personally do not drive, however I still enjoy cars. I think life would be dull without them. I have driven a car before, but not exactly legally. Electronics are not the reason i don't bother with cars, its called anxiety. If I was driving on a track where i can go at a snails pace or whatever speed i feel the need for, and not have to contend with others, I would probably be ok with it. I do however, enjoy a ride on a bike. I got to play with a crap little Honda once out on a farm and rode piggy back on my little brother's bike. . . Ahhh the memories. I think economy may also be a factor as to why so many teens aren't driving. The only cars a teen can afford looks like it came from a scrap yard. How is a lad suppose to pick up a babe in a hunk of junk?

      4 years ago
  • I'm a 15 year old and I've been a car enthusiast since I was 7 so I guess I'm not like the other teens?

      1 year ago

      3 years ago
  • i'm a cars guy since ever (in my 40s) and lately I took a 3 months programming course were of course most attendees were in their 20's... and their lack of interest in the subject is beyond imagination !!! for them is just a box they borrow from their parents if those went on vacation for a week !

      3 years ago