Us being rampant gearheads, we want something that’s fast as our first car. Hell, I was looking at Audi TTs, Toyota MR2s, Honda S2000s, and basically a bunch of cars like that. I even found a nice Volvo S60R at a decent price. However, despite my desire to own a car with street cred, I wound up with a hand-me-down 2004 Honda Accord. Now that I look back on it, I’m quite glad I didn’t get any of the cars I wanted.
In the same way you don’t hand a brand-new pilot the keys to a jet plane, you typically don’t let a first-time driver behind the wheel of something beyond their skill level. The pilot trains in a Cessna, and the new motorists trains in something cheap like a Toyota or Hyundai. It is crucial to choose the right car for a new motorist.
Among many others, there are four large factors that need to be considered when looking for your first car. These are:
Cost: This is a given, of course. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on a car that will be damaged. Yes, as a new driver, you will damage your car in some way. As new drivers, you are not as skilled as seasoned motorists, so you will have a few booboos here and there as you’re learning. Have I dome damage to my car? Absolutely. The question you have to ask yourself now is: would you rather damage a $2,500 car or a $25,000 car?
Insurance: This can not be stressed enough. Insurance, especially with new drivers, can be a huge deal. Whatever car you choose, you have to know what the insurance companies see in it. This goes without saying, but don’t pull a Tavarish and spring for that salvaged Maserati Coupe. But it can go a lot deeper than that. For example, I can not recommend Hondas to new drivers. They still have an aura of the street-racing scene about them. The insurance companies will assume the driver is a street racer and jack up the price. Proof? I’m paying $180/month for my Accord.
There’s also another thing to consider: luxury cars. Even if it’s an old Maxima, insurance will still be expensive for a new driver, because the Maxima is still considered a luxury car.
Practicality: I really wanted this one Audi TT I found on Craigslist. It was white, had decent chrome wheels, was a drop-top, it was amazing. Ideally though, there were two concerns with it regarding practicality: would a 6’ individual such as myself actually be able to fit in it (with the top down), and was there enough trunk space? Since getting my Accord, there were several instances where I had to use every last cubic inch of that trunk, including packing a bunch of plywood in there and even a whole Christmas tree! And while I just barely have enough space in my Accord, imagine what it would have been like in an MR2, TT, or S2000. I’m glad I didn’t get a sports car because of all the practicality I gained.
Reliability: I have done so many miles on my car, it’s not even funny. I got it at 87,000 miles almost two years ago, and it’s now at 110,000 miles. Imagine getting an Audi and praying something expensive wouldn’t fall off doing all those miles. While my Honda isn’t even the most reliable Honda, it’s still light years more reliable than anything else, excluding brands such as Toyota and Nissan.My dad had an ‘86 Celica GT (The very car that got me into cars), and one day he had to take it into the shop to get the timing belt replaced. To the mechanics’ surprise, they found the engine had been completely starved of oil. My dad had been running that car for months without any oil and hadn’t even noticed.
I know that it’s not very “Jalop” to even think about a “beige shitbox Camry” as your first car. I know that Mustang GT is tempting, but these are pretty serious things to consider, and most of the time, you have to put your love of cars aside and go for the most logical choice.
I always recommend a Camry. Why? To insurance companies, appliance cars are a good thing! Insurance will be cheaper, which everyone will like. Your parents will like it, because it’s safe. You will like it, because it’s as reliable as the moon. Also, with a car such as a Camry, you have time to gain the trust of the insurance companies. The fun cars come when you have your college degree, a steady career, and the insurance companies know and trust you.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia commons)