classic car restorationWhen sophomore year begins, most teens have one goal in mind – getting a driver’s license. Learning to drive represents increased responsibility and freedom for teens, so it’s crucial that parents make purchasing and driving their first car a unique experience. If you cannot afford to buy your teen a new car, if you have an affinity for classics, or if you and your teen are mechanically-minded, consider restoring a classic car together. This project has several benefits for your teen that go beyond just getting to drive a car.

Sense of Responsibility

Most parents have seen disturbing news stories in which teens who are given new or used cars get into serious accidents, totaling the cars and injuring or killing themselves or friends. Buying a teen a new car will not guarantee he or she will drive recklessly, but it may create a sense of entitlement. Your teen may not take as much responsibility for a car he or she didn’t have to work for.

On the other hand, restoring all or part of a classic car requires work and dedication from your teen. His or her effort will have a direct effect on how the car looks and operates at the end of the project. Your teen is less likely to be reckless with a car he or she has spent a lot of time working on over weeks or months. The knowledge that he or she completed such a big project and possibly paid for some parts of the restoration will make you and your teen proud.

Time to Bond

Many parents feel as though they “lose” their teens once they begin driving. Teens who can drive often pull away from families because they can now choose their own activities and see friends whenever they like. Restoring a classic car can help you and your teen maintain a strong bond even after he or she begins establishing relationships and leisure time outside the family.

Ask your teen for input on how the car should look. Ask open-ended questions about school, jobs, relationships, and future plans. Offer advice or opinions without judgment. You can also ask your teen to teach you about current trends – the fashion, music, TV, and activities his or her generation thinks are cool.

Expanding Knowledge and Horizons

If you can obtain a classic car, you’ll have a great opportunity to teach your teen what makes a car a classic. Talk about the era it came from, what was popular then, and some of the biggest moments in history. For example, the restoration of a 1970s car is an opportunity to discuss the Vietnam War, Watergate and the ethics of government, and parallels between the ‘70s and now, such as problems in the oil and gasoline industry.

Finally, classic cars are usually more personal than current models – not every student at your teen’s school will have one. Your teen’s car will be an immediate draw for friends inside and outside his or her normal social group, which may cause his or her horizons to broaden.