The 1954 Chevy Bel Air, the 1949 Buick Roadmaster, the 1956 Ford Thunderbird, or the 1965 Pontiac GTO – men love their classic cars. Say “prized possession,” and you’re likely to get details of the first car they ever owned. Mention big, fast, and flashy, and you’ll hear a story about a favorite 1950s car, complete with tail-fins, chrome, and grille.
Rekindle more classic car memories with a few of the activities suggested below. Adapt the activities, as needed, for all of the car enthusiasts in your group.
- Display props such as new car brochures, old license plate, car ads, car magazines and books, road maps, photos of vintage classic cars, and model cars.
- Show pictures of classic cars and ask participants to identify the make and model. Ask: Did you or your parents own any of these classic automobiles? Did you ever visit a vintage car museum or go to a classic car show?
- Reminisce about learning to drive and buying a car for the first time. Ask: Who taught you to drive? Did you learn on a stick or automatic transmission? How old were you when you got your license? When and where did you buy your first car? What kind was it? Did you haggle over the purchase price? How long did you keep your first car?
- Listen to some car and driving songs, such as “In My Merry Oldsmobile,” “Little Deuce Coupe,” “409,” “Little Honda,” “Mustang Sally,” “Little Red Corvette,” or “Pink Cadillac.”
- Reminisce about the 1960s icon, the Volkswagen Beetle (with German roots). Watch the 1969 Disney comedy, The Love Bug, about an aging Volkswagen Beetle named “Herbie.”
- Reminisce about family trips in a favorite car, like the station wagon. Plan a trip out West using historic Route 66. Listen to the song “Route 66” by Nat “King” Cole. Share vintage Route 66 memorabilia.
- Invite a hobbyist to share some model car kits from the 1950s and 60s. Ask: As a father, did you ever teach your son to assemble a kit? Did you ever collect die-cast model cars?
- Display copies of Hot Rod magazine. Show a picture of the 1932 Ford Deuce Coupe, a street-racing icon. Share memories of hot rodding, drag racing, and the custom car craze. Ask if anyone ever helped build a hot rod or custom car. Did anyone belong to a car club?
- Show photographs of 1950s tail-fin cars, like the Cadillac. Ask: Did you ever own a tail-fin? Did you like the chrome and grille styling? What did the cars symbolize?
- Wave a small green flag and announce, “Gentlemen, start your engines!” Share recollections of the famous auto race, the Indy 500. (EX: Past winners like A.J. Foyt and Bobby Unser; tradition of winner drinking milk in Victory Lane; breaking 150 mph speed in 1963). Ask: Do you like to drive fast cars? What is the fastest you’ve ever driven?
- Hang a “Made in America” sign. Share recollections of The Big Three automakers in the 1950s and 1960s. Ask: Did your family have a tradition of buying cars from Ford, General Motors, or Chrysler? What was your favorite car? Did you ever buy a foreign- made car?
- Define muscle cars (think big engine, loud, fast). Show a picture of the 1966 Pontiac GTO, a classic muscle car. Listen to the 1964 song “Little GTO” by Ronny and the Daytonas. Ask: Did you ever own a muscle car? Why are they appealing to men?
- Reminisce about the effects of World War II on cars and driving. Ask: What do you recall about gas rationing and the rubber shortage? How did you change your driving habits during the war? Did you walk more or share a car? How did your lifestyle change?
- Discuss the car crazy culture of the 1950s, using the following key words: suburbia and commuting, interstate highways, drive-in movies, drive-through restaurants, shopping malls.
- Display some tools used for auto repairs, like wrenches and sockets. Ask participants if they knew how to make basic repairs on their cars or if they preferred to use a favorite mechanic at a local repair shop. Share memories of neighborhood filling stations, like Esso, Texaco, or Sunoco. Ask: Who taught you to change the oil in your car or change a flat tire? Did you like to tinker around in the garage?
CARS TRIVIA QUIZ
Full speed ahead… Try this car quiz with your group.
- Which instrument in a car measures the amount of miles driven in your car? Odometer
- What kind of automobile has a top that can be removed? Convertible
- What does NASCAR stand for? National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing
- What type of automobile did the comedian Jack Benny own? Maxwell
- Which U.S. city is considered the capital of the auto industry? Detroit, Michigan
- Which auto manufacturer introduced the Mustang in 1964? Ford
- In what country was the Volkswagen Beetle developed? Germany
- In The Green Hornet television series, what was the name of the 1966 Chrysler Crown Imperial? “Black Beauty”
- Who helped to make cars safer with his 1965 best-seller, Unsafe at Any Speed? Ralph Nader
- Which car company sponsored Dinah Shore’s variety show on TV in the 1950s and 1960s? Chevrolet (The Dinah Shore Chevy Show)
“MEN AND THEIR CARS” written by Sue Hansen. © 2009 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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