It’s no secret that car culture is passing-by today’s youth. Or maybe it’s the other way around. But regardless – there is a lack of widespread engagement amongst teens within car culture… noticeably less than generations past. A quick Google search will show you plenty of articles on how more & more teenagers are in no rush to get their license. But the question is WHY?
There are many factors playing off each other…
Certainly mobile devices are competing for teenagers’ attention & money (and winning). But at the root of it, I think the answer is pretty straight forward. It’s not so much that there are ‘more important things’ to a teenager… that’s just the effect. But the cause is: We’ve coddled our kids too much.
I see it now as a parent with my own child…
We coddle our kids with the best of intentions… out of love. But society in general has become waaaay too much of a safe space. And it’s changing the way we interact with the world. It’s kind of ‘removed us from the world’ in a metaphorical sense. We’re here… but are we really? Are we submersed in the moment?
The teenagers coming up have been so babied when it comes to riding in a car…
We strap them into child seats until they practically hit puberty, we throw them in a backseat of a huge boring crossover, then we stick a tablet in their hands so they never look up. The result is: Of course they have no interest in vehicles! They desire a car about as much as you desire to sit in a dentist’s waiting room. Because it’s about the same damn level of excitement!
In contrast, when I was a kid…
We didn’t stay in that child seat and/or backseat for long. Nah – we hopped into the front & rode shotgun with mom or dad… and actually TALKED to them. Shared our day at school. PLUS – it was a time where cars were more analog & engaging… and required more of the driver. More like this Toyota GR86.
So there you were, a kid in the 80s/90s watching your mom & dad put the sunroof back, maneuver through traffic, and shift gears. It was cool! There was a connection between what they were doing with their hands & feet… and what you were hearing from the engine. And it gave you a very 1st person perspective of driving from a young age. A seed was planted. There was an awareness rather than ‘obliviousness’. It brought your eyes to the other cars on the road… which made you start thinking about them… and dreaming about them & what kind of car you’d own when you got your license one day. There was a plan/scheme forming in your young little head… and it involved a cool car for sure.
But today – vehicles have been so big, bland, & disengaging for so long…
The odds are pretty good that today’s teens have either fully grown up in the back of 1) mom’s vanilla 3-row SUV, or 2) dad’s predictable country-club truck. And the kid’s in the backseat somewhere… with a tablet in front of them… looking down… well past the point of their balls dropping lol.
Their parents don’t shift gears or roll down windows. Rather, they’re on bluetooth making business calls. The modern car has become an extension of the office, not an escape from it. So the kid is in the backseat, disengaged on a mobile device… while the parent is in the driver’s seat, disengaged on a call. And they’re both disengaged from the road & each other. The kids aren’t looking at the all the cool things on the road alongside of them. They’re just looking down at that tablet/phone… forming the technology addiction that’s ruining us all.
So it’s no wonder that when these kids turn 16…
They’re not the first ones in line to get their license. Driving is something they literally know nothing about! It’s an entire dynamic they’ve not been exposed to. The thought of a license & a car of their own doesn’t represent freedom & excitement… it represents inconvenience & apprehension. A departure from their comfort zone. It’d be like not letting your kids near a pool till they’re 15 or 16… and then being surprised when they don’t have any desire to jump in one. It’s a foreign freaking concept to them! As a society, our desire to protect our children… has robbed them of life & exposure to a point. As teens, they don’t even know it… and as parents, we won’t admit it.
And that’s what Philip Jacobs is attempting to change with his own kids…
Philip is a roughly 40-year-old guy who was into cars during the glory years of Nopi & Nopi Nationals. If my facts are straight, I believe he even worked at Nopi at some point. Point is: car culture is deep in his skin like a tattoo. It was a main piece of his youth.
Philip’s gotten ‘older’ now…
He’s got a family & kids. And in recent years, he’s noticed that his kids weren’t getting that same exposure to car culture. Like… at all. There was an undoubtable generational shift. His kids had zero appreciation for the sound of an engine on startup, a bodyline, a styling cue, or the feeling you get from gripping the steering wheel in a car that was designed to move you. Philip felt like part of that fell on his shoulders.
So Philip decided it was time to do what he wanted to do anyway…
And set out to build a car again, which was something he hadn’t done in a while. And hopefully – his kids would gain some appreciation & exposure along the way. Philip got this new Toyota GR86. And really – the only thing he was dead-set on, was the Pandem widebody. But when it came to modern brands & wheel fitment, etc… he was admittedly a little bit out of the loop. So he took the GR86 to Ryan Wright at Carolina Stance Shop. And basically they went ham.
Carolina Stance Shop is known for stance & fitment-related customizations…
Bags, suspension modifications, widebodies… anything that dials-in a car from an aesthetic point of view. So Philip and Ryan made a plan & ran with it. The Pandem widebody kit had just been released for the GR86 at the time, so Ryan & Philip ordered one pronto, and built-out the rest of the car around that (see mod-list below).
Pandem widebody kit
Seibon carbon fiber hood & trunk
Pandem 6666 wheels (18×9.5 front; 18×11 rear)
Toyo R888R tires
Full air ride
Airlift 3P management
All SPL control arms
Custom trunk set-up by Carolina Stance Shop
Low Glow RGB under-lighting
APG Performance big brake kit (front & rear)
Patina rust wrap
Sequential 3rd brake light
900 count starlight headliner
Race seats & harnesses
Dyna Performance steering wheel
Mods in process… (recently released)
ECUteck engine management
But the larger point is, Philip’s kids have been exposed to the car & car culture….
And for Philip, it’s cool to watch that play out. As a parent, you gotta somewhat-selfishly admit, it’s a great feeling when your kid/s kinda start to understand & appreciate what makes you tick. So often as parents, we’re trying to make our kids ‘get it’… whatever ‘it’ is. We want them to feel our passion. So when it starts to click, hell, it feels like you’re doing something right.
In this case, when they start to recognize that energy behind a car… when they start to really recognize that some cars are built differently than others… that’s when you feel like you’ve opened their eyes to something. Something bigger than cars. And when it comes to soulful, enthusiast vehicles like the GR86, the spirit of its engineers & designers have been passed into that sheetmetal. Cars like this had to fight & push to make it to production. As a result, some cars just have something to say… and Philip’s kids are starting to pick-up on that language. They’re starting to see cars not as ‘just transportation’ and/or an inconvenience, but rather a welcomed new dynamic of life… where there is actually life & energy behind the wheel of a car. It’s not just dead time where you’d rather be on the phone or social media. No – it’s an escape from all that crap. A reset.
The fact that more people don’t enjoy driving like they used to…
Is a direct result of modern cars being disengaging, boring, and unfulfilling. So as car enthusiasts who ‘get that’… we do what we can to share what we love. At the end of the day, this is art. By purpose, ‘a car’ just needs to get you from Point A to Point B… but why in the world stop there?
Photos by Kese Johnson & Zion Marshall
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