I’ve read a few articles lately about the ‘older’ generation of car mechanics finding it difficult to keep up with all of the changes of modern cars; one guy was 80 and only just thinking about giving up working in his family garage – impressive! The amount of technology in new cars requires completely new and ongoing training meaning that the ‘greasy spanner’ mechanics of yesterday are being left behind.
This makes me really sad! Of course we all love our new cars and their technology (I was going to put ‘reliability there but, hmmm, not always!). We love the smell, we love the way they look, we love that we’re always connected and that we can always find where we want to go.
But we know there are a whole group of people out there with classics. Cars that require that greasy spanner in order to keep on working.
So I asked myself…is the art of the traditional mechanic a dying one? Is anyone passing on their knowledge of the Morris Minor, Honda 1300 or the Austin Princess, the vintage Jaguar or even the old Rolls Royce? If we want these cars to keep on keeping on then it’s imperative the knowledge on how to fix and maintain them gets passed on. It seems to me that in order to own a classic, it’s possible you might have to learn to look after it yourself.
A quick Google search revealed plenty of car mechanic courses and whilst they do cover the basics of oil changes and replacing bulbs, do they cover spark plugs? I asked a young driver if they knew what spark plugs were. They did not!
The Classic Car Workshop in Darlington specialises in classics (we’re north east based, but the company appears to collect and deliver across the UK) however that was them doing the restoration, not teaching others (as far as I could tell). So even though I searched for Classic Car Courses, that’s not what I got!
Then I came across a great blog from Classic Cars Garages who had done the research for me. But again it seems most of the courses out there are for actual classics (not your Princess!) and appear to cover the body work more than the engine. Yet surely it’s the engine knowledge that is needed?
Thank goodness for karting and other motorsports where young’uns are learning to fix their own vehicles. Formula 1 is fabulous but evolving all of the time, and is now so technical that even those youngsters coming through the karting ranks have to learn a thing or two about technology.
I’ve a feeling it might be a good idea to join the Army and train as a mechanic. Some of their vehicles are ‘classics’ and you would work under pressure in the field so you’d definitely get to know your stuff. But if that’s a step a little too far, then maybe we just need all of the ‘oldies’ to pass on their knowledge to the younger generation. If you own a garage, are you passing on all of your knowledge to your young team and apprentices, or are you only teaching them what they need to know to work on modern vehicles? And it’s only going to get worse with the rapid growth of electric cars!
One day, if sci-fi telly programmes are to be believed, we will need to outwit technology and knowledge of a normal, non-computerised combustion engine might just save your life! 🚗
But for now, for all of your car needs (whether you’re a garage or an enthusiast doing it yourself) pop into any Oak Road branch and check out our huge range of automotive parts.