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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Leno: Appreciation for hard work is fading, and old cars aren't easy | Hagerty Media

Once I had a gentleman on The Tonight Show who had climbed Mount Everest, which is an amazing feat that is nearly impossible for most people under the best of circumstances. But this guy was also blind.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/leno-appreciation-for-hard-work-is-fading-and-old-cars-arent-e...
100 REPLIES 100
70beep
New Driver

Amen brother!
liveloaf
New Driver

Bravo Jay Leno!!!
gpsuya
Intermediate Driver

Great Article Jay. Absolutely spot on!
MissStutz71
New Driver

I have done three almost full restorations (and had to farm out a lot of things) and it can only be a labour of love.
Gary_Bechtold
Instructor

Agreed. People either don't understand what it takes in terms of work or they don't appreciate it because they are now use to everything instantaneously. There is also a decent amount of people who look at anything not new as old junk to be thrown away. I have a huge respect for the work it took to take something that looks trashed and make it look great again. Also that time, the parts, etc. are not free but everyone wants things for free. Try making a living being a talented musician these days. I feel sorry for them trying to push through a culture now wanting their work for nothing.

Jay like you I appreciate great engineering, hard work and the very American work ethic that has made so many advances in our country's relatively short life. Sadly I see out country getting lazy and complacent. I truly hope work like this does not go away, not just because I love cars. I think it is important for young people to appreciate the work involved and to continue it. So much knowledge will just be gone if it isn't passed on.
tc429
New Driver

I was about to write a reply, but you already nailed it 🙂 I love saving the unsaveable/neglected...
kcshelby
Intermediate Driver

Thank you, Mr. Leno! Craftsmanship does, indeed, seem under-appreciated.
audiocage
Detailer

Ain't it the truth! And not just cars...
drm101
Intermediate Driver

On the Nosey! I had my own business working on lawn mowers and other things in my garage and finally had to give it up mainly because I was tired of arguing with people about the cost of my labor. My automotive engineering job (for me) is so much easier.
Bileeg
New Driver

So true! And I never thought of keeping track of the countless hours of research to insure things are restored to original!! If you do it yourself you never get your time back and if you pay to have it done you never make money doing it! You do it for the love of the cars! Well put Jay!!
antoniodelgad68
New Driver

Jay, It is real sad that people no longer value hard work. But I have to say that it starts at the home. My father God rest his soul made me earn everything, entitlement was not an issue and when the money flying out of your pocket was earned through hard work you value it more. People have become lazy and disconnected, so I agree next time your classic mechanic gives you a quote think about the blood and sweat he is going to put into repairing that old car and you wont wince when the bill comes. TD
MainMan
New Driver

So True!
CJinSD
Advanced Driver

There are at least a dozen red 1953 Ford F100s for sale at any given time. Considering her level of effort and foresight, I'd have gone down the list and paid full ask for the first one that didn't have too many stories associated with it. Then it would just be a matter of overpaying for transportation. Over-privileged and entitled people are great for profiting the little people who didn't hold a fundraiser for globalists to help them wage their war on the west's middle class.
geozinger
Detailer

I see this kind of thing frequently. I see this, but in other realms, like home improvement. Folks watch these home improvement shows and like Jay says, a few commercial breaks, some loud music... et voila! It's all done. Not in real life...

FWIW, I see a lot of comments that young people have no idea how to do things, I don't know if I agree with that entirely. I know several who are quite accomplished at a fairly young age and it gives me hope. Yes there are plenty that are not, and I remember my parent's generation saying the same thing about us when we were kids 40+ years ago. A lot of my generation stepped up when necessary, I have a feeling the younger folks will, too.
Kyle
Moderator

Your thoughts are spot on. I would add that a good handful of folks I talk to think that "young folks have no idea how to do things" because these young folks know how to do different things.

A tired example, but I know a lot of younger enthusiasts that can easily re-tune an ECU but wouldn't know where to start on a carburetor. These folks often get labeled as "not knowing how to do anything" because the knowledge is in tech, not mechanical. It's still a lot of knowledge and expertise though.
Sajeev
Community Manager

While I don't disagree with everyone's thoughts, I do think we need to discuss Maker Culture and its influence on younger folks.  More info here

 

MajorTomB
Intermediate Driver

Sajeev, this is an article by Jay Leno. His Big Dog Garage pioneered the use of 3D printers in the recreation of unobtainable parts for classic car recreation, first in plastic and now in printed metal. Something the rest of the classic car world is also quickly moving to adopt. I would say he knows all about the Maker Culture.

As a VP of Engineering, I am blessed to have several hard working car guys on my staff. I have one intern that I wish I could talk out of following his Air Force ROTC dreams this spring, as he is another old soul hard worker at 22. I think that is what this article is about. That appreciation of building something, or rebuilding something, and making it better. Not many people are born with that anymore, and half that think they were, find out it is too hard and fail themselves out of it.
-Nate
Detailer

@Sajeev ;

the blue hyperlink isn't active .

-Nate
Sajeev
Community Manager

Thanks for telling me, Nate...try pasting this link instead: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maker_culture

Verneoz
Pit Crew

"Our appreciation or understanding of other people’s hard work is fading, and that rankles me." Jay makes very good points. The main reason for the lack of appreciation & understanding for the hard work of other people is that our institutions (public schools, colleges, entertainment, & news media) demand it, and indoctrinate the population accordingly. The deterioration in Parenting skills contributes to this also. It all started after WWII when the lowering of standards became fashionable, and it's a downhill slide.
BossGreg
Intermediate Driver

Climbing Mount Kilamanjaro (had porters and eyesight) was easy, putting up with my jerk brothers was hard though. At 58 Years old I work hard every day on my Building project ( like Jay no kids and gladly no soccer to watch which I would consider hard as have no interest and it doesn't get my work done). This article is spot on. Most of the physical work on a car I don't consider that hard except that lack of knowledge part and that frustration part of the too many times a little thing turns into a larger thing not to mention the contortions you sometimes put your older body through. I have been involved in a few restorations, but I still need an advisor and that elusive time I need to sleep and work first.
Oldgearhead
New Driver

Well said, craftsmanship is alive and well, but you must recognize it, and value it, to really appreciate the work of the mechanical trades. I was a plant engineer in the food industry for decades and you quickly come to value the mechanical skills available today, of suffer the consequences.
If you are pursuing a hobby, the labor is seen thru a different lens, even if the skills must be extraordinary to accomplish your goals.
You gain an entirely different perspective after you have actually accomplished an involved restoration.
dpeterb
New Driver

I've only completely restored one car- a 1953 Buick Super. Ton of work and it was very time intensive hunting down obscure parts for it. Cost easily twice what it's worth, but was an enjoyable enterprise from start to finish. Could not agree more with Leno, it ain't what is shown on tv.
chronoskid
New Driver

Well said! I hope the pendulum swings back toward people doing things for themselves. Like you said, it is the best way to appreciate what someone else does for you.
OldIron14063
New Driver

Exactly. Trouble is most people reading Jay's article here are already aware of that. The people who need to see it probably never will.
uweschmidt
Detailer

Bravo Jay in fact ican tell you a little secret about hard work it is only hard work if you do something you do not love doing I am old now used to repair Cars most of my life and spend years cutting down trees for a large Forest Company But I never "worked" I only had Fun doing what I wanted to do
Hodag
Pit Crew

I am 61, all my life I have loved cars. At 16 I wanted to do what I am just starting. To pick a basket cases and make Rat Rods. Let's face it I have no patience YET to do bodywork. I have learn in this older age that I don't want the collect of hot rods, it's the fabrication of body parts to make the car cool. Your story is very true. But what did our Grand dads and fathers of the 70's think about us building cars. My father was into the Old Mighty Dollar. So I was off seeking my fortune until this time. I have always had a muscle car along the way. So at 61 I am trying to be 16 (61-16 get it) again in the need to construct or restore a car or truck. I have three dead, need everything to put together vehicles, before my body just can't do it anymore. I am doing a 1949 Chevy 3100 (3rd year on this), a 46 Dodge next, and then a 68 Javelin if I can find the parts. By the Way I am now ready to sell the 73 Trans am for a Hellcat. Just for grocery's........ thanks for the rant.
BMD4800
Instructor

Amen, Jay.

All hard work is both unappreciated and undervalued. We’ve cheapened the concept of a skilled trade and the value of true quality.

A couple Engineers commented, thank you! I walked away from Engineering, specifically in the automotive field, because what I witnessed was little to no passion. Not for the product, not for quality, or even the job at hand. “Man, testing door handles is lame.” The mantra seemed to be - good enough to last the life cycle.

I’ll give an example: I had a long term rental while my fleet vehicle was in for a recurring failure. Enterprise leasing gives me a what most would agree is a upper scale full-size SUV. The quality and attention to detail was so poor, I called the dealer and got the voicemail line for their area Engineer. The biggest complaint: on a vehicle of this price point and quality reputation, the door handle should not echo through a thin, hollow sounding door skin. A small sound deadening square, on the inside around the panel opening would eliminate this, but after R&D, beta testing, media events, etc no one caught that? The doors sound cheap. And it is every one. My 20 year old pick up has them! Okay, I call Engineer line, the response? So? They know it, but don’t care!

I could go on and name specifics from another major manufacturer, but it won’t change anything. The few with passion and pride are overruled by soulless entities that are more worried about missing a CAFE standard or getting canceled vis a vis the cancel culture for selling products consumers want.

Anyone remember grease zerks on shackle bolts, U-joints, steering and suspension components? They now call them “sealed for life”.

Their timeline, not mine.

This all reminds me of the origins of Packard.
dpatter7
Pit Crew

Jay hit it on the nose.
Stickdick
New Driver

Perfect article Jay! I restore cars for a living and you are spot on. People just don't understand what it takes to do this type of work. Thank you. People today have no idea what the sweat equity and talent that is required to restore a car is. Thank you. You have just made my day!
Shawnhearn
New Driver

Love how Jay writes and talks at such a simple person level. So happy he is part of our community!!
Swamibob
Instructor

Several Thumbs up Jay! Thank you for this. Too bad a lot of people who should probably won't ever read this. I try to teach these very things to a lot of people, some get it , some don't.
I have found that if you couch it in terms of how much time it takes to do a job, it does help, but even them most people, who don't do anything with their hands just don't get it. Pity we don't have any industrial arts classes in our schools anymore.
silverado
Intermediate Driver

Absolutely, for sure!!!!
erniek70
New Driver

Well said Jay. Especially the paint comments. Spraying the paint is MAYBE 5% of the labor for a quality paint job. Non car ppl don't get it. And, like you said....if, at a car show, you see an older car, with paint quality that is not great....who cares? Be glad the old car hobby lives in, and likely that non perfect paint was actually driven to the show....which I find more important!
loose-electron
New Driver

Interesting that you picked a rather shot Sunbeam to go with the article. I own a 1963 resto-mod Sunbeam Alpine right now. Took me 5 years to get it right. Used to have a Tiger back in the early 70's. My father used to sell them back in the 50-70's era You mention on the show that you used to own a Tiger in your younger years, would be curious to know if you bought it from my father back then (Massachusetts, not CA)
TimK
Detailer

I too have seen guys who never do any work, not even oil changes on their classics but claim they're real "car guys." I'm not trying to insult anybody so they are because they like driving their pride and joy, and I applaud that. But that's not my definition of a car guy. I like Jay Leno because he's a car guy who gets his hands dirty by doing his own work that he's able to do. I'm sure he knows his limits so farms out what he can't do himself which is smart. We should all know our limits. I encourage everybody who owns a classic to do as much work as they're able to do. Believe me, you will appreciate that car more. But as a mechanic with 50 years experience I too have my limits as all professionals do so I know all weekend warriors do too. I hate seeing hacked restorations because the owner, or professional, got in over their head.
In my 1 man shop I don't specialize in classics but do take them in for work at times. The sentence Jay says, "They’re not overcharging—in fact, they’re probably undercharging." strikes home. I spend countless hours researching and locating parts for some of these cars but don't charge for it like I should. I remember trying to locate an axle and outer wheel bearing for a 1957 Chevrolet 3600. The axle took time trying unsuccessfully to find a machine shop that could resize the king pin socket. I then had to spend time doing an internet search that located a man in Oklahoma who specialized in dropping axles and had what I needed in his shop. The bearing was a different story. If it was a 3100 (1/2 ton) it would have been easy because I could have converted it to a roller bearing. No such luck on a 3/4 ton. After cross referencing numbers to get the GM number I found a NOS bearing, only one OEM or aftermarket I could find, on ebay for $1000 but wasn't willing to spend my customer's money like that. Finally researched using dimensions and found a PN for one the correct ID and OD but slightly wider and my local O'Reilly's had it in stock for around $65. Saved my customer hundreds but didn't charge for my time which amounted to over 5 hours for just these 2 parts. Now I tell my customers with classics, and some others too, doing parts research takes time and I'm going to charge for it. But I still don't charge enough for the total time.
Kyle
Moderator

Out of curiosity, if folks who own cars and are passionate about cars but do not have the ability (for one reason or another) to work on their vehicle are not car enthusiasts, what are they?
BMD4800
Instructor

Car Guy (or gal) vs
Car Enthusiast.
TB
Pit Crew

Never said better; as a survivor of several major restorations - most people have no clue as to what it takes to restore a car (even in solid shape). And as Jay noted the car shows mostly buy a car, do a couple things to it an Wala! it is done for a large profit. Wheeler Dealers are a fairly accurate representation of fixing up a car ( usually in pretty good shape to begin with) Ant does a good job showing the labor and fab efforts.
limoguy
Intermediate Driver

I'm amazed at the total labor listed per vehicle on Wheeler Dealer. Ant is one skilled guy. If I were doing it, multiply hours by four.
TB
Pit Crew

Ant is (I think) a master mechanic. Doesn't hurt that he has every tool known to man. I would be outsourcing most of what he does. Speaking of Jay, I built a Monte Carlo Restomod 63 1/2 Ford Falcon Sprint Coupe that he bought. Video on Utube
Nowadays sourcing parts of older cars is proving very difficult. I think Jay has two or three of the new 'printers' Scan the old part, print a mold or the replacement.!
SteveShay
Pit Crew

I disagree with Jay. I drive a 2007 low-mileage Mercedes C230 I bought for ten grand. Only Mercedes dealerships, three here in the Seattle area, have the esoteric computer analysis machine to indicate how to fix my windshield wiper fluid lever. Two hours of labor at $300 hour to “discover problem” and more hours to fix it, if they can. Ma & Pa’s don’t have that diagnostic machine. So I Cary Windex to squirt. Similar problem with my 2001 VW Cabriolet I once had. “1980’s computer technology” I was told by the shops, so they have to lift the engine to get to the components and so a couple thousand there to fix basic problems. Jay’s great but he’d have to take my C30 to an LA dealer and spend three grand to fix the wiper spray mechanism. Young people didn’t adopt this “lazy attitude” out of a vacuum. Car repairs since Jimmy Carter was president require a high level of expertise, esoteric electronic equipment and a large garage at home at a time when young people are renting micro pads.
limoguy
Intermediate Driver

An independent Mercedes shop could fix that for you for a lot less.
TB
Pit Crew

From when I visited Jay's shop I would estimate that three quarters of the cars are vintage before the computer and ECU revolution

NYAscona
New Driver

Thanks Jay,

IMHO you've once again hit it out of the park. I know I haven't always agreed with some of the things people have done with their rides, or I don't care for that particular model, but I'm regularly inspired by their incredible dedication, craftsmanship, attention to detail, and industry,
jerryrumba
New Driver

So true! I thought I'd try my hand at doing a paver patio with help from my grandson. But instead I hired a pro knowing I'd never get it done. The team that did the job tore out the old concreted; excavated to get the correct slope; dug a drainage ditch; hauled in loads of gravel and got that perfectly raked and tamped down; followed by moving all the pavers by hand to the backyard; meticulously set each paver; built a curved step to the door and set a border which required hand cutting each brick. It was construction artwork all done in three days! I was so impressed and humbled!
Relative to cars I was at the Hot August Nights event in 2018 and while there were many impressive cars there I was most taken by an International Harvester long-box pickup that was restored. I'm not really into pickups, but what impressed me was this guy dragged this thing out of a field and did all the work himself in his garage. It was a work of love and determination!
Maestro1
Instructor

Well done, Jay. I am of the same opinion which is why I never moan about costs, for example on the Impala in the Barn which all Hagerties know about. I just had the 283 pulled and will buy a 327 for it.
I have had a Stroke so I can't wrench any more. My folks that do the work for me are wonderful. I don't ask the price except for the first time, so I know where I am with the budget for the car (which will always be over the top) and I trust their advice. These people are older folks, who know what they are doing, they have been doing it since the First Century, so there's no moaning or complaining here. Thank you for writing this. I hope everybody reads it, and takes it to heart.
Best wishes and stay well.
Beestly
Intermediate Driver

Spot on. It took 7 years of stolen evenings and weekends to restore my car. It’s hard work. I have a critical eye for craftsmanship. After doing my own car, when I go to shows I don’t see flaws. I just feel respect.
CliffRamsdell
Pit Crew

Great article. I have a 28 model A that’s an old hot rod. Did all the work on the car except cutting the glass but I did install it.

Body work isn’t perfect, paint isn’t perfect, interior isn’t perfect but it suits me perfectly and we drive it all over the place and enjoy it because we built it. I didn’t build it for others to enjoy, I built it for me to enjoy and if others enjoy it also then all the better.

So to all you out there that “thought about” building some, don’t think about it just get to doing it.

Cliff Ramsdell