Classic Cars and Trucks

Classic Cars and Trucks (Photo credit: Martin Pettitt)

As I open my archives from over 25 years of working with elders, here are some ideas for celebrating Car Care Month.  Be sure and check out Car Care Tunes for additional song ideas. 

The topic of cars can drive many a conversation – memories, movies, slogans/advertisements, license plates, manufacturers/models, and (of course) songs.

If you have a good budget or can rent it through your local library or a support group, access Bi-Folkal Productions Remembering Automobiles. Everything you need to start sharing memories is included.

If it isn’t in your budget, don’t worry – I have tons of other ideas.

Memories of cars

Sometimes our memories need a little priming. Pull up so classic car images online or locate books with them. Consider viewing some on YouTube like this Hot Rods and Classic Cars. ( I would recommend muting the sound so you can talk while the images show.)Try these questions to start some conversation:

  • What are some of your earliest memories of cars?
  • What was the first car you owned? (color, model, price)
  • What vehicle was your favorite? (remember it might be a truck, tractor, etc.)
  • Tell me how you learned to drive. (who taught, age)
  • Did you ever go to a drive-in movie? Tell me about it.

Search for car and automobile stories on Time Goes By to see if people have similar memories.

Play word games (hangman, scategories, jeopardy, word searches) with parts of cars, car models. Many can be found for free online.

Movies and more

Movies have many car memories. Locate DVDs of classics such as “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, “The Love Bug”, and “The Great Race” are a few of those listed as the best. Consider sharing DVDs like Great Cars: American Classics to share history and images.

If there is a classic car group in your community, invite them to bring over a few cars from a particular era. Play music from that period. Take photos. Serve refreshments.

Get remote control cars, set-up an obstacle course and take turns driving through it.

Invite the local Pinewood Derby (often a Cub Scout group) to demonstrate or test their cars in your facility. Serve some refreshments. Have the racers ask some of the questions above to get people talking.

Have volunteers survey residents on fun car information. Highlight those questions receiving either a single response or 100% response. Make the survey filled with fun such as:

  • Who owned a convertible
  • Who owned a truck
  • Who ever drove an RV
  • Who ever drove a semi
  • Who ever changed a flat
  • Who ever ran our of gas
  • Who drove a Model-T or a Model A
  • Who owned a foreign made car
  • Who rode in a rumble seat


There is nothing like looking back to the 1950’s and 60’s big luxury items for cars.

See who can match the slogan with the car maker:

  • (name), Universal Symbol of Achievement –Cadillac
  • Ask the Man Who Owns One – Packard
  • Have you driven a (name) lately? – Ford
  • There’s a rocket to fit your pocket. – Oldsmobile
  • The ultimate driving machine – BMW
  • Grab life by the horns – Dodge
  • We are driven – Datsun
  • You asked for it. You got it. (name) – Toyota

Burma Shave (and similar ads) where a biggy. Enjoy a flash to the past then try creating an ad for a new car, your facility, or some event in this style.

Car commercials often include music. In 2011, Forbes posted the 10 best songs in Car CommercialsLove to Know Cars also lists a few. Older adults will likely remember a few more from the past, too.

Plymouth Volare introduced many in the 1970’s to “Volare”.

1950’s Chevrolet “See the USA in a Chevrolet” is a classic. Most people don’t remember the break strain.

Sometimes it was just background music as in this 1960 Ford Thunderbird ad.

Ask about favorite car commercials and do some searching on the internet. See what music you uncover.

There are many songs and conversation starters on cars so look for more in our next post.  Until then…

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