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How To Start In The Car Hobby

How To Start In The Car Hobby

Over the last couple of years, I have been involved in the planning and execution of an automotive summer camp for high school students. These camps have shown me that many young teens and adults are yearning for information about the automotive world.  This interest ranges from passion for the car hobby to careers in the automotive industry.

Regardless of the reason for this passion, many students and their parents don’t know how to get started in the automotive world.  In fact, while promoting an upcoming camp in Michigan several parents reached out to me with the same question:  where do we begin?  They were in search of camps for their kids, but unable to travel across the country to attend the one in Michigan.

Where Do You Start?

Over the past three years, I’ve explored many automotive topics on this website.  You can see the key categories at the top of this page–everything from buying and selling cars to fixing/modifying them.  I even share fun stories about people in the hobby.  This likely works well for those of you already immersed in the car hobby or industry.  It may not work for those just jumping in.

If you are new to this car craziness, welcome!  I know it can be daunting (and maybe even frustrating) to get good information on the basics.  For that, let’s touch on information and activities that can help you find that one thing that connects you to automotive.

Start With Automotive History

The best place to start is at the beginning!  The automotive industry really got started in the early 1900s with the sale of the first commercially viable cars.  Ironically, a key reason cars were popular then was because of a big pollution problem in the big cities (New York and London in particular).

Would it surprise you to know that the main mode of transportation, horses, produced over two million pounds of manure in New York City alone?  Cars to the rescue!

The auto industry has been resilient and adaptable to important events in the world, and in some cases drove those changes.  This is why learning from history is key to appreciating the importance of the car.

Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister from 1940-1945 and 1951-1955, once said:  “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”  That quote sets the stage for getting the full view of the automotive industry.

The History Channel produced an excellent four-part series that covers automotive history from the engineers who rivaled each other for automotive excellence.  You can view “The Cars That Built The World” on the History Channel HERE.

Car Shows And Museums

An excellent way to see the passion for cars is car shows and museums.  Nearly every town will have a weekend car show during the summer.  This is a great place to see a variety of cars from several decades in one place.  Talking to the car owners is a great way to learn about a particular car.  It will also reveal why that owner is passionate about their car.

Every car has a story to tell!

While not as prevalent as a weekend car show, car museums will show the best examples of automotive history.  We have many excellent museums in Michigan (Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn and the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners are two of the best).  Hopefully you have one near you as well.

Go visit a museum!

YouTube Channels

YouTube is the second largest search engine on the internet, and contains some of the best automotive content available.  I watch a lot of YouTube videos each day in my quest to stay current on the car hobby.

It’s pretty easy to launch a channel, so you can imagine the amount of bad content on YouTube.  From my daily viewing, I found a good handful of channels that range from new car reviews, car repairs to car projects.  My favorites, along with the reasons why I chose each one can be found in my articles below:

Related Articles: Favorite Car REVIEW Channels, Favorite Car REPAIR Channels, Favorite PROJECT CAR Channels

As noted earlier, I spend a lot of time watching videos in those three categories.  Please take advantage of my obsession!

Buying/Fixing/Selling Cars

Whether you are buying a vehicle for a daily commute or just for fun, the car review channels will be very helpful during your shopping process.  I also have a large collection of related articles on the Buying/Selling page of this site.

Once you own a vehicle, it may need repairs. Some of those you may want to tackle yourself, which I highly encourage.  If nothing else, try performing basic maintenance.  You will save money and learn more about your car in the process.  I cover helpful information in my Car Care Basics article.

Regardless if you have a daily driver or a fun vehicle, make it your own through personalization.  That can be as simple as applying vinyl graphics or painting your wheels.  Check out the topics covered on the Repair/Mods page.

Build A Model Car

Not ready for tackling the real thing?  Start by building a model car.  You cn find kits at your local hobby store or online at places like Amazon and eBay.  Typical kits are under $30.

Related article:  Assembly Required: Building Model Cars

Find Your Thing

Throughout my life, I have been able to pursue every aspect of the car world.  I’ve touched all the bases in the hobby and worked in the automotive industry.  From all of those experiences, I like restoring and personalizing cars the best.  In particular, I love to paint.  It doesn’t matter if it is spray painting wheels or changing the color of an entire car, painting gives me great satisfaction!

I recently painted the body panels of a wave runner for a friend (you can see the result in the picture at the top of the page).  That project gave me the chance to try a new paint and technique.  I was really in the zone while doing this project and it inspired me to write this article.

You don’t always need a car to be a car enthusiast.  Painting may not be your thing, but it is an example of engaging in the car hobby in a unique way.  Let me know your interests and if I can help shape them.  Please email me at, or message me through the Vehicle Nanny Instagram or Facebook pages.

Want to learn more about me?  Go to this article:   Who’s Your Nanny?

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