Yesterday I challenged you pioneering commenters to give me the best car for a first time driver on eBay, for less than a $25,000 budget. Without further ado, here’s the most Jalopnik list of first cars ever made.
10. 2013 Scion FR-S
Although some may think that a car made for driving pleasure and ease of drifting could be a death sentence for a young driver, some of the most popular cars amongst teens are light coupes like the Honda Civic and Nissan 240SX. At least with this Scion FR-S you’ll have the advantage of a new chassis design, multiple airbags and a strut tower that isn’t rusted completely through. Buy it, but only if your parenting is on fleek.
(Suggested by My X-type is too a real Jaguar)
9. 1990 Volvo 780 Bertone
There’s nothing safer for a new driver than an old Volvo, especially one like this clean 780 Bertone coupe, for a few reasons. First, it isn’t very fast, with less than 170 horsepower on tap from its V6 engine pushing its relatively rotund mass from point A to point B. Second, it’s remarkably well built and solid. The bumpers are covered steel, as are all of the body panels. The car’s also rare enough that it should gain street cred amongst the iPhone-obsessed youth of today, and it’s reliable enough that it won’t require a second mortgage to keep running. It’s everything you need in a first car and nothing you don’t.
(Suggested by think carbon)
8. 1980 UAZ 469-B
There’s nothing more anti-establishment than showing up to school or a minimum-wage job with a Soviet-era military vehicle. It’s basically putting you on all the wrong and right lists at the same time. Reliability is pretty good, although parts will have to be drop-shipped from the motherland and you’re on your own for maintenance, but who cares? It’s the automotive version of Ivan Drago.
(Suggested by Kashmired)
7. 2012 BMW 328 x-Drive
A BMW E91 wagon is a nice place to be because it’s one of the only station wagons on Earth that is billed as the Ultimate Driving Machine. It has near 50/50 weight distribution, enough space for many things and many friends, and is safe enough that you won’t need to worry about the occasional fender bender. It isn’t the fastest thing in the world, but it can certainly show you a good time if you decide to hit the go pedal for longer than you think you should.
(Suggested by hankolerd)
6. 1980 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
This Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme comes from the school of thought that kids deserve to drive around crap, that’s why the car presented here is the color of literal poop. It is technically rear wheel drive and may, in theory, be able to do a burnout, but that’s not the point of this car. This is meant as an aspirational exercise - why would you strive to do better if you didn’t first have something that you desperately wanted to leave behind? Consider this a motivational car of the highest order, because its blandness will have you working overtime to replace it, and hard work never hurt no one - that’s what Gramps always said.
(Suggested by ColdSlaw)
5. 2003 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
No, this Chevrolet Corvette Z06 isn’t a mistake. It’s a test in parenting. Just like an old school tough love parent would let their child have the opportunity to smoke and drink and rejoice when they turn down temptation, the parent that buys their child a Corvette for a job well done needs to have the utmost trust in their own parenting skills to make sure that they don’t quickly become a statistic. Matt Farah had one at a young age, and he turned out just fine - and so will you, unless you wear Affliction tank tops all day. Then you should probably stay away.
(Suggested by OtisHoyt)
4. 2005 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor
There’s a saying - if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. The same car that the police used to corral suspected perps is the car that can certainly put up with some errant fast food wrappers and parking lot dings. It’ll last forever and it’ll scare the shit out of your friends.
(Suggested by SirPoopyPants)
3. 2014 Subaru Impreza
Styling is current but not obnoxious enough to draw police attention. They’re slow and easy to handle. AWD will help in the wet and snow for inexperienced drivers. Can fit four plus stuff, but won’t have twenty friends jammed in. Subaru engines are stupid easy to work on, good first car to learn how to do basic maintenence. The one I posted is a current model, but the mid-00s with with EJ engine may even be better
But most importantly, it has stellar safety ratings. Remember, your first car usually is the first car you crash in.
(Suggested by BrianGriffin)
2. 2000 Mazda Miata
Why? Glad you asked. It’s reliable and gets good gas mileage. Despite its diminutive size, it’s reasonably safe, and will teach your kiddo defensive driving techniques the first time a soccer mom in a Suburban tries to merge into them (ask me how I know). Teaches them proper driving habits and may influence them into becoming a Jalop. Easy to wrench on if something does go amiss. They can only carry one passenger, so less distraction. It’s an engaging drive, so they are less likely to be texting before running into a tree.
1. 1999 Nissan Maxima SE
This 4th generation Nissan Maxima was plenty of car for me as my first car, and it allowed me to keep my finances in check because I didn’t have a car payment. It was reliable, fast, luxurious, spacious, and looked good enough to look back after parking. Spend the rest of the money on college tuition, rent, or a new business venture and drive a car that won’t quit on you no matter how many cups of ramen noodles you have to eat in life. Perfect first car.
(Suggested by GhostZ)
Tavarish is the founder of APiDA Online and writes and makes videos about buying and selling cool cars on the internet. He owns the world’s cheapest Mercedes S-Class, a graffiti-bombed Lexus, and he’s the only Jalopnik author that has never driven a Miata. He also has a real name that he didn’t feel was journalist-y enough so he used a pen name and this was the best he could do.