Luxembourg Youngsters Keep WWII Dodge Rolling

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A military vehicle club in Luxembourg has found a powerful way to attract young people to the historic vehicle movement – what FIVA (the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens or international federation of historic vehicles) calls “the single most important step in ensuring that classic vehicles will still be on the roads 50 years from now”.

Back in 2016, the Luxembourg historic military vehicle club ‘CVM Steesel’ bought a 1943 Dodge WC51, a four-wheel-drive truck from WWII, as the basis of its new ‘youth section’.

The idea was to attract younger members by involving them in a challenging project, as Sandra Heinisch from the Lëtzebuerger Oldtimer Federatioun ASBL (LOF) explains: “The club owns the truck and pays for the spare parts but it’s the young members who first restored it, supervised by some of the older members, and now carry out all the maintenance.

When CVM first bought the Dodge, it had some mechanical issues that needed attention. Over the following month, the newly recruited young members learned to fix electrical problems, rebuild the fuel pump and one of the vacuum windshield wiper motors, and then painted the vehicle with the markings of the division that liberated Steinsel (‘Steesel’ in Luxembourgish) during WWII.

Once it was running, two of the earliest young members to join, Jeff Heiderscheid and Michel Schintgen, became the first to learn how to drive this classic military truck. More and more young people then joined the youth section, learning about the Dodge and how to drive it. CVM is only a small club but today there are 11 young women and men actively involved.

The older members continue to teach the youngsters new skills by using the Dodge. For example, the axle shaft was changed, and a used engine bought, rebuilt and installed with great success. The Dodge now runs properly and the youth section can use it to participate in meetings and tours. Two new drivers are currently undergoing the training process.

LOF welcomed the youth section of CVM at the Luxembourg Autojumble in 2019 and 2020 (Photo: Young CVM Steesel)

Tiddo Bresters, president of FIVA, sums up the importance of CVM’s youth section: “The active involvement of the younger generation is crucial to the survival of our movement and the preservation of the ‘moving museum’ that we can enjoy seeing on the roads. Historic vehicles are time machines, no different from historical buildings or art in terms of the stories they tell about our society and culture – a heritage that goes way beyond the mere history of transport.

What strikes me most strongly is that this Dodge project reminds us how, 75 years ago, soldiers of the same age as these Luxembourg youngsters arrived in vehicles like this Dodge to liberate Europe from Nazi occupation, a liberation for which many of them paid the highest price. It’s hard to think of a better illustration of the importance of the ‘living preservation’ of time machines such as this, for us and for future generations

CVM’s youth section is a fantastic example of how to attract the next generation, as most of them would be unable to afford their own vehicles and lack the necessary experience to maintain and drive them. Similar projects could work well for many clubs around the world but, as Sandra Heinisch is quick to point out, it’s vital to have older members with the experience, skills – and above all the willingness – to share their enthusiasm with young people.

Photo Credits: Young CVM Steesel

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