By Amelia Dalgaard
Kids at car shows—these days kids seem to be all over them. In fact, convention halls are so packed with car-crazed rugrats, that one has to wonder, what are these munchkins doing there anyway? Are today’s kids really into cars? Or are they dragged to these shows by their parents?
Are they anxious to get behind the wheel or do they just show up for the overpriced, stale popcorn and some automotive swag? I spent a few days running around the New York International Auto Show talking to kids so we could finally set the record straight:
In general, kids at the New York Auto Show fell into four distinct categories:
The Selfies: kids who came to document themselves around cars of every variety.
The Feelers: kids who came to pat, claw and poke all things four-wheeled.
The Inspectors: kids who came to try every button, knob and dial.
The Gawkers: kids who came to see the cars they love.
The Selfies: Many of the kids at NYIAS were really anxious to get behind the wheel of everything and anything. Some were even more excited when their smartphones were nearby so they could post it on Snapbook, Instachat or add it to their LinkedOut/Facepage profile in real time. These kids weren’t dragged around by their parents, in fact, many of their parents said that it was the other way around—their kids dragged them!
The next group, The Feelers, were there to get up close and personal with their favorite cars. These kids were more than happy to oblige their parents, especially when it came time to cozy up to a fleet of Porsches.
Very often The Feelers would overlap with The Selfies, because once they were done drooling all over the favorite car, the only thing left to do would be do document their encounters:
Once the car fondling and the selfies were complete, many of the little monsters jumping into the driver’s seat to dig into the car’s capabilities. These Inspectors dug deep! From turn indicators to cup holders to that button on the steering wheel that may or may not call for help (or self-destruct), they tried them all, especially when their parents weren’t looking.
These kids didn’t necessarily choose to come to the auto show (most reported that they were dragged) but I’ll bet their parents are going to find that their rear view mirror settings will never quite be the same after this trip!
The final and perhaps most elusive group were The Gawkers. These were kids who most of the time, came along enthusiastically with their parents. Like these adorable little Ferrari fans:
This duo reported a strong interest in the Italian supercars and wore their finest Ferrari garb in anticipation of the prancing ponies in the flesh. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that the Modena crew didn’t attend this year’s NYIAS. Some of these small but passionate enthusiasts came to get some work done, like this budding car designer who came with her sketch pad in hand:
Regardless of who is the real car lover and who is just the plus one, the most memorable thing about kids at NYIAS was, I didn’t see any having a meltdown. Though I’m sure they did, I didn't see any kids falling in a puddle of exhaustion and frustration at the foot of every Fiat 500. In general, most of the kids I encountered were really happy and excited.
Maybe it’s because an auto show is one of the few places left where kids can run around and think about who they’ll be, and more importantly what they’ll drive, when they grow up. Maybe that’s because way automakers have made their booths more family friendly with video games, virtual reality and prizes. Or maybe, just maybe, the next generation knows what we’ve known all along, cars are cool, almost as cool as actually driving them.