Historic Vehicles & Culture

    We need to learn, before we can teach

    The digital era, Gen Z and historic vehicles

    I’m writing this article at the beach bar. It’s summer and I’ve brought the kids to the seaside. On the beach is a group of teenagers, sitting together for hours on end without talking – their communication is entirely focused on exchanging phones and showing each other what’s going on in the world via the small screen. The most physical effort they’ve made is to stand up, pull a face and take a picture, probably to be published on social media as a #nofilter photo, which my 11-year-old daughter has explained is a must on Instagram.

    If we thought millennials were addicted to technology, Generation Z teens put technology in the same category as air and water. They can’t imagine living without being permanently ‘connected’.

    As a parent, I’ve seen for myself that kids do have something worth being conscious for, despite all the technology that embraces them from the first day of their lives. They are born with curiosity, the desire to understand and to feel – and it’s vital that we encourage these instincts.

    It can be difficult but, if we want results, we need to accept the defining characteristics of a generation and approach them using their language and their ‘way of being’. Preaching to them, telling them they are wrong and we know better, will not help at all. We must educate by using their chosen methods. After all, each generation doesn’t just represent the future, it creates it.

    Life experiences influence the way we will feel, the way we will react to a situation, for the rest of our lives. Smells, shapes, high-adrenalin driving, irritation at mechanical breakdowns, impatience when searching for a spare part… all these create memories to take into the future.

    By actively using historic vehicles to display our automotive heritage, we are telling the story that these objects also carry within themselves: the story of their origins, their role and their meaning in our world. They offer a unique interpretation of the past that fascinates both active participants and external observers, showing them a world full of charm that might tempt them to become protagonists in this magnificent story.

    Generation Z wants to be independent and without boundaries, to live through experience and become part of the stories. Simply showing them a vehicle on display will not be enough to entice them – they need to feel free and alive. Personal, adrenalin-rich experiences are what count. Forget organised touring events and static exhibitions – the Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram generation prefers ad hoc meetings and communication via social media, or events that represent a challenge (speed, treasure hunting, charity events…).

    “Touring is for old people,” my kids would say, “and it’s boring to be around those old people.” The trigger that tempts a Z teenager into a classic vehicle is what you do when you’re in that seat: an adventure, a charity cause, something that proves they’re daring to be different, where they are visible, seen to be cool… on social media, of course.

    More than ever, it’s time to create an environment where young people prosper, exercise their rights, regain hope and a sense of community, and engage as responsible social actors and innovators. We need to tap into the characteristics of a generation, tap into their interests and reach out to them in their way. We must be able to teach and not preach.

    In the world of historic vehicles, FIVA’s role is something of an international ‘headmaster’. Our new strategy and networking aims to support the education of all generations, across the globe, with member programmes in Switzerland, Hungary, Mexico, UK, Romania, Italy, Luxembourg and a great many other nations, with new programmes regularly created.

    Gen Z students tend to thrive when they are given the opportunity to have a fully immersive educational experience – and they enjoy challenges. Young people are active learners, hence practical classes are often more interesting than passive ‘lectures’; and if Zs aren’t supplied with digital learning tools that enable them to seamlessly connect academic experiences to personal experiences, we can’t hope for much success from our programmes.

    FIVA and its members will need to embrace every aspect of modern life to – perhaps paradoxically – ensure the survival of historic vehicles and related culture. Perhaps this is a lesson that those of us from slightly older generations can, for our part, learn to relish.

    Natasa Jerina Grom – FIVA Vice-President Culture and Youth

    Photo credits: MAUTO (Italy), Heritage Academy Project (UK), Mexican Technical School.

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    The above material can be used free of royalties within the scope of this press release.

    FIVA (the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens) is the worldwide organisation dedicated to the preservation, protection and promotion of historic vehicles and related culture, as well as their safe use. Since April 2017, FIVA has been a non-governmental partner of UNESCO, and continues to pursue its successful FIVA World Motoring Heritage Year programme.

    For more press information, or to speak to a FIVA representative for a specific country, please contact Gautam Sen, FIVA’s Vice President Communications on, +33(0) 6 87 16 43 39 (mobile), or +33 9 66 12 44 64 (landline).

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    Les informations ci-dessus peuvent être utilisées sans redevances dans le cadre de ce communiqué de presse.

    La FIVA est la seule organisation internationale de son genre à s’être fixé pour objectif l’encouragement d’une utilisation sûre des véhicules routiers historiques à propulsion mécanique au même titre que la préservation et la promotion de la culture des véhicules routiers en elle-même. En 2016, la FIVA a célébré son 50ème anniversaire avec le programme « Année du Patrimoine Automobile Mondial » sous le patronage officiel de l’UNESCO.

    Afin d’obtenir des communiqués de presse plus détaillées ou de parler à un représentant de la FIVA pour un pays spécifique, veuillez contacter Gautam Sen, directeur adjoint de la communication de la FIVA, à l’adresse, au +33 (0)6 87 16 43 39 (mobile) ou au +33(0) 1 53 19 14 20 (fixe).

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