It's Time to Pass on Our Memories...

In December 1976, wanting to recall one of the special memories of Christmas morning of my youth, I bought a basic train set to once again circle the family Christmas tree. And, as the famous Lay's Potato Chip ad proclaimed "betcha' can't eat just one", I should have known having only one train set would not be sufficient.

30 days later had witnessed the purchase of additional rolling stock, locomotives, track by the mile and enough buildings to earn my own zip code. I was well on my way to build the layout of my dreams - a multi-train operation located on a 5' x 10', multi-level board.

That train board exists today awaiting Christmas each year to come "alive". Unfortunately, this year may be it's last as downsizing may soon force a choice; and having a place for my classic Mustang will take priority. And as sad as that reality will be, I plan to divide everything among my grandsons for them to enjoy for many more years.

So, what does model railroading - once referred to as "playing trains" - have to do with classic cars?  Perhaps more than you'd expect.


A headline of a recent model railroad article asked "How can we attract young people to the hobby, or should we care?" 

For those who enjoyed countless hours with a Lionel or American Flyer train set as a kid, wasn't an adult usually involved to one degree or another?  After all, creating a layout was not found on the internet...

Similar headlines created by the likes of Elisabeth Rosenthal in her NY Times article "The End of Car Culture", or Eric Peters in the American Spectator article "The Aging Hot Rod Scene", or even the more challenging article, "4 Reasons for the Death of America's Car Culture" by Becky Graebner in PJ Lifestyle may create the impression the classic car hobby is doomed by changing demographics, inflation, smog controls, insurance as well as government regulations, laws, technology and loss of design uniqueness.

If such dire reports become commonplace, does that make them correct? 

We don't think so...
Today's 46 million "Generation X" {1965-1979} witnessed the birth of the muscle car as well as the launch of Star Wars and the Sony Walkman.  They are also the generation now seen in increasing numbers at local car shows as they have the financial means and lifestyle most in accord with the Classic Car hobby itself.

The leading group of the 78 million "Millennials" (aka: Generation Y) {1980-2000} may have grown up more familiar with video games, but they are now in the mid-phase of their career and family growth. The Millennials may also be the generation second only to the "Gen X'ers" in terms of disposable income.  It is interesting to note, Millennials, for the most part, are the offspring of the Baby Boomers who themselves are the heart and soul of today's Classic Car hobby and have first-hand experiences of today's classics as their respective "family car". Finally, when you consider 1989 as the most recent year of eligibility to be considered a true "classic car" (25+ years or older), Millennials completely bracket the era of great cars.


Perhaps a March 2013 presentation by JTW's Ann Mack at the SXSW Conference in Austin, TX entitles "Embracing Analog" holds a sneak peek at what we can expect.

A recent U.S. survey we (JWT) conducted using SONAR™, JWT’s proprietary online tool, found that people tend to utilize digital tech for its ease, speed, convenience and cost... Two-thirds of respondents said they sometimes feel nostalgic for things from the past, .... , and 61 percent said they have a greater appreciation for things that aren’t used as much as they used to be...

If their conclusion indicates Gen X'ers and Millennials are feeling nostalgic about video and audio technology can the assumption be made they too will soon embrace the value and history offered by classic cars?  We think so... 

Read more here

Start to think how you can contribute to the future of the classic car hobby by passing on to a younger generation a first-person statement of what your classic means to you and the hours of pleasure and enjoyment it has provided.  We'll all be the better and enriched by what we pass along...

Merry Christmas and enjoy your memories ~