GOLDEN – A thick morning fog coated the road atop South Table Mountain as a green 1950 Ford 4-door sedan slowly came into view.
The Ford was followed by other classic cars, creating the sense of a different time and a different place.
“You’ll have British cars like the Mini over here,” said Steve Keyes, spokesman for Hagerty Insurance, pointing to the tiny red car parked behind him. “You’ll have American muscle cars. You’ll have British sports cars like a Jaguar XKE. You’ll have Porsche 911s. So, it’s a wide spectrum of cars.”
Hagerty Insurance hosted its 20th Driving Experience in Golden on Saturday. Classic car owners brought their vehicles to the Colorado State Patrol driving track on South Table Mountain. The 1.4 mile track simulates a two-lane highway and is typically used for training troopers. On Saturday, car owners trained teenagers.
“The idea is to teach students how to drive a manual transmission,” Keyes explained. “But sort of the catch is, it’s in a classic car.”
More than 600 students ages 16 to 25 have taken part in Hagerty’s events held in the United States and Canada.
Besides teaching a skill, the goal is to build the next generation of classic car enthusiasts. Keyes said 60 students signed up for two sessions on Saturday. Many had never driven a stick before.
“Maybe they’re a little bit jerky trying to learn how to drive a car with a standard transmission. By the end of the classroom, they are pros,” Keyes said.
Blaire Pavone got behind the wheel of the 1950 Ford sedan.
“It’s a column shift, so that was a new experience for me, and it was a really good car.” Pavone said.
Pavone grew up around cars. Her dad used to race and was a mechanic, but Saturday was Pavone’s first chance to drive a classic, manual transmission car.
“It just gives a whole other experience to driving,” Pavone said. “You really feel like you’re connected to your car, connected to the driving, connected to the road.”
That’s a feeling that’s hard to find nowadays. Only about six percent of new cars sold in 2015 were manual transmission, according to experts at Cars.com.
Pavone thinks everyone should learn how to drive a manual transmission.
“It’s also a piece of history as well which is great to preserve.”
It’s a skill that will fade like the morning fog, unless it’s passed on down the road.