Still Hammerin’
Rob Fortier Headshot
Classic Truck Performance is changing our “issue number” system to be a consecutive numbering system. Starting with this issue, you will see a growing issue number that will carryover into each new year (in this issue #9, as this is the ninth issue of Classic Truck Performance) rather than the previous format (#5 to match the fifth month of May).
Start ‘Em Young … Keep ‘Em Motivated

‘ve always preached—and will continue doing so as long as I have this literary pulpit in which to do so—that we all need to do whatever it takes to keep the next generation(s) involved in the hobby … and at the very least involved with cars/trucks in some facet or another other than just knowing how to drive them! I truly think it’s important for us to instill the perspective that these vehicles we all love so dearly are much more than simply modes of transportation—that is, if they even have any interest in them to begin with.

I know many of today’s youth have little to no desire to own a car, let alone get their driver’s license in the first place. For me, the day I “earned” my CDL (California driver’s license) and watched the grumpy lady behind the DMV counter tear up my learner’s permit was nothing short of a rite of passage—a doorway to my adolescent freedom, as it were. For anyone to not welcome that similarly at the age of 16 is beyond me! But, I digress.

Last August, my son turned 16—right in the middle of the pandemic. Fortunately, he was able to get his learner’s permit only six months after his initial test appointment with the DMV (which just happened to be the very same day they canceled all appointments across the board). However, that’s not what really concerned me—it was his demeanor toward obtaining his right to bear steering wheel on his own, or lack thereof, that did. Whether it was due to being cooped up at home with virtual schooling or what, I wasn’t sure, but there was definitely a lack of interest on his behalf—with driving and/or working on his own car, a 1981 Datsun 280ZX I’d picked up for him the previous summer, both of which he had plenty of time for. Even during his time behind the wheel with the driving instructor (the days of free high school driving instruction are long gone, at least out here in SoCal!) seemed more like a chore than anything else.

Fortunately, once his six months had elapsed following the issuing of his permit—and I’d literally pulled half my hair out putting in the mandatory hours shotgunning it with him—I began to see a drastic change in that melancholy demeanor. The “eh” attitude was quickly replaced with obvious enthusiasm and a clear desire to finally get his license—and once and for all not having to listen to me yelling at his every move at the wheel (some justified, some just knee-jerk reactions!). Before long, that enthusiasm increased to the point where he not only expressed interest in working on his car, he took the time to (fully) research it—value that far exceeds the price I paid—ultimately showing me that not only was he excited to drive, but he actually wanted to do what I’ve done to every single vehicle I’ve ever owned: make it uniquely his!

This past March, the DMV finally opened back up and subsequently honored canceled appointments—unfortunately, his fell on the day I left for Fort Worth to attend the Goodguys/LMC Spring Lone Star Nationals. Not wanting him to miss that opportunity, I arranged for his grandma to take him with the clear instructions to inform me the very second he passed his test. Well, she did just that, except the news was that he failed, which of course I was not expecting. Nonetheless, I assured him he’d get it the next time and to schedule an appointment ASAP, which he did—on a day I could take him. Sure enough, the second time was a charm, and to say my eyes didn’t leak a bit the minute he appeared from the car with a huge thumbs up would be an understatement! I knew right then and there my presence had to have made a difference, but seeing the look on his face was magical. At the very same moment, I also realized that a 16-year chapter of my life had just come to an end, which was both joyous and depressing. But watching him finally drive off—without adult supervision—made me proud (and a bit scared!). Ultimately, however, seeing that enthusiasm to drive “his” car, that he himself puts the work into, is the most rewarding for me, period.

Now, the only thing left is to get him into a classic truck!