Car for Teenage Boy


Just want some opinions for a first car for a 16 year old boy. I’m thinking big, heavy and slow with good breaks.


…or rather, brakes.


I’d prefer something small, light and slow. The “big and heavy” philosophy always seems to me to be saying, “as long as my kid is OK I don’t care how much damage and injury he does to others.” Now, maybe that’s not what you are thinking, but that’s the impression I get.

To me it’s better to teach a kid to drive well and not get into accidents. That’s easier in a smaller and lighter car that handles well. Yes, I have kids, and yes they learned to drive in and had as their daily driver a mid-80s Nissan Sentra. Small, light, slow.


Something inexpensive as it has a higher chance of getting wrecked. Also something with airbags and ABS too. I would suggest an inexpensive domestic car like Taurus, Cavalier, Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis, Neon or Malibu.

All cars go very fast eventually so you really can’t use that as criteria.


It won’t really matter. If the boy is a calm and courteous driver he will not wreck. If he is wild he will find a way to destroy whatever he is given. Rather than preparing him for a lethal crash, prepare him to drive right.


I guess “big and Heavy” are a matter of perspective. My first car was a '68 volkswagen station wagon with the headlights held on with duct tape followed up by a Chevette.

By big and heavy I was thinking Toyota pick-up or Chevy 1500. Not a land yacht.


Good point, I guess it really depends on the driver. There seems to be a whole range of possible answers, depending on the “type” of kid we are talking about, you can decide which answer you like:

  • buy him something cheap because he will wreck it anyway

  • buy him something big so he won’t get hurt when he crashes, although the other drivers may not do so well

  • buy him something smaller with a lot of “safety features” so he will be less likely to hurt himself or anyone else

  • make him save his own money and buy his own car so he will be more responsible

  • buy him a nice, but boring newer car so he will take care of it and won’t do anything too dumb

  • buy him something cool so he will take care of it and not want to mess it up by doing something too dumb


What can he afford?

Frankly he is more likely to be careful if it is a car HE paid for.

My first car was a 1965 Sunbeam Imp. I paid $550.00 for it (I borrowed $200 from my father) and I paid my insurance) It was a loaner car 875 cc engine that could almost make 65 mph with the light weight 1,200 pounds of car. It had a 11 gallon tank as I recall. I had that car about 10 years and 120,000 miles.

Too light to be safe? I was hit by a Greyhound buss on the freeway one night (the driver was new and fell asleep.) No injuries and after I sold it to a co-worked he fell asleep at the wheel and run into a GM Impala at full speed. It was a rear engine car and he only had a scratch.

I only say this because if the kid knows it was his money he is more likely to take car and not all cheap small cars are unsafe.


To me, pickups=poor handling. Not the best for a new driver. A used Taurus, or other mid-size or even small sedan will handle better and be more forgiving of new driver faults.


I started my kids out in well used, midsized US vehicles. Big enough to be safe in, and small enough to park in average spaces.

Despite being good drivers, each kid had a minor at fault accident in the first six months of driving. I’m waiting to see if my grandson will either continue the tradition, or start a new one.


I heartily concur with JEM.
the car is only useful IF the son purchases his own.

any teenager (a few years ago myself included) respects their own possessions when they buy them themselves.

if you give it to your son it will be less appreciated than if he buys it himself.

i am thoroughly disgusted when i see high school kids flying around town in new (or almost new) corvettes, hummers, or other signs of excess wealth (or stupidity) although my politics are showing, like 30,000 dollar sweet 16 parties, or prom parties, i think all this excess giving to kids, who don’t even understand what it takes to earn the $$ is a huge disservice to the kids. (think of paris hilton!)
sorry to rant, but this does @#$% me off.


buy him something cool so he will take care of it and not want to mess it up by doing something too dumb

As long as he doesn’t follow the fast and furious crowd…

cappy; it could be their parents let them borrow their own car, or they took it without permission. God help my kid(s) if I had a new vette and they ever took without my permission and wrecked it. I’d probably let him sit in jail overnight to let him think it over.


No question, the 240 series of Volvo; 140 horsepower, a big heavy box of a car that can take a lot of abuse and is UveryU reliable!
They made them from '87 - '93, and most parts are interchangeable, so used parts are easy to find.


[/quote]What can he afford?

Frankly he is more likely to be careful if it is a car HE paid for. [quote]

Sometimes that works, sometimes not. In my case, my first “car” was a motorcycle that I bought (with my own money) when I was 15 (without a license or insurance). I wouldn’t describe my riding at that time as careful, especially when being chased by the local police.

The point is that it depends on the individual (i.e., if my parents had been paying any attention I wouldn’t have been driving anything when I was a teen).


As long as he pays for it, there is a chance that he may be more careful with it. I drove Dad’s car and I owe him at least one clutch and a fender.


Buy him a Ford Pinto…and make sure you explain to him the problems with the car exploding when in a accident…That’ll FORCE him to be special cautious.


Sigh. Another unwarranted slap at the poor Pinto. First, the so called propensity to explode in accidents was only rear end accidents, and then usually when struck by a much larger vehicle doing 40+ MPH. I used to own a Pinto. It had more than one front end collision with no explosions, or even injuries to occupants. One of those was my own stupid fault for driving incautiously in a parking lot. The other was my brother’s girlfriend and I was not in the car at the time.

Sorry, but he Pinto “deathtrap” reputation is seriously overplayed.


let him buy it himself and see if you can find an old Plymouth horizon/Dodge Omni, becasue they are slow, but easy to fix, cheap, and indestructable


I’m not recommending a Pinto, by the way, not that you are likely to find one in running condition. I just remember mine fondly as a fun little car.


If you think used Volvo 240 parts are easy to find, you haven’t tried to find any. I can get repro parts and new parts for my daughter’s 240, but whenever I try calling a junk yard they say, “Sorry, those parts go out as soon as we get them.” Maybe it’s a local thing, but around here used 240 parts are hard to get because they are so in demand.