There are continuing concerns about the experiences offered to older adolescents being looked after (‘in care’) in the UK and, especially, to care leavers. Questions are asked about the limitations of State care compared with normal family life. This paper reports on an initiative to provide driving lessons to a group of six young men living in residential homes in one city. It links with resilience theory – how individuals can have relatively good outcomes despite early adversity. A qualitative study was undertaken to explore the effects of the initiative, including individual interviews with young men, heads of homes in which they lived and children's services managers. The overall results indicated that the initiative was very worthwhile. The lessons were a significant part of young people's lives. Possible effects on young people were divided into personal, instrumental and social. Benefits were reported from all parties concerning young people's self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as in forging close relationships with supportive adults. Driving would not be seen as a panacea for complex personal histories and structural problems, yet this small experiment suggests that driving lessons could be of disproportionate benefit and there is a moral obligation to provide them in any case.