Hagerty extolls joys of stick shift to Ontario youth

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This 1949 MGTC was one of the vintage cars participating in the Hagerty Driving Experience in Caledonia, Ontario.

This 1949 MGTC was one of the vintage cars participating in the Hagerty Driving Experience in Caledonia, Ontario.

The Hagerty Driving Experience arrived in Caledonia, Ontario, for the first time Aug. 22, to teach a new generation the time-honored skill of how to operate a stick shift. Young residents of the Hamilton, Ontario area, aged 16 through 25, received driving lessons and classroom instruction about vehicle maintenance by Hagerty experts with the support of the Hamilton British Sports Car Club.

“We are thrilled to bring the Hagerty Driving Experience to Ontario to give young people the chance to learn the art of driving a manual transmission,” said McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty. “With the support of the Hamilton British Sports Car Club, students were put in the driver’s seat to experience some incredible British sports cars.”

Caledonia Fairgrounds was transformed into a closed-course where participants took turns behind the wheel of several classics, including several British marques such as a 1972 MGB and a 1949 MGTC.

“We have to pass along our love of cars to the youth, many of whom have never even seen let alone drive a car with manual transmission,” Hamilton British Sports Car Club member Colin Tyrell said. “We ended up with 20 owners volunteering their time and classic cars to support Hagerty. I couldn’t be happier with the support of the club.”

Recent research shows that today’s youth have less interest in driving and likely possess less driving skills than teens three decades ago. According to a University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study, only 46 percent of 17-year-olds in the U.S. have their driver’s licenses, a 33-percent decrease since 1983. Additionally, less than 10 percent of currently produced vehicles are equipped with manual transmissions, a technology prevalent on classics.

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