What would be a Good First Car

I am a young man who is looking for a car. I really like how the Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon looks, but I don’t know how good a car that would be. Would an earlier VW Rabbit be a more sensible choice? I like the look of the 80s cars. Am I going in the complete wrong direction?


Seriously ? Those are so old and finding one in decent shape would be almost impossible . Plus parts are going to be a problem because they are not collector items.

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These cars were not reliable when they were new. Check out a used Corolla, Civic , Sentra etc. Pay a mechanic to inspect it before you buy any used car


He wants a new car that looks like an Omni. Or hot hatch. Most new cars look like jellybeans.

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Yes. Those cars are way too old. I suggest you go for something more modern. The Golf is the newer generation Rabbit. The newer cars are safer and need maintenance less frequently. How much money do you want to spend? That will help us with suggestions for you to look at. It seems that you like small hatchbacks. Auto or manual transmission? Any other features you like? Stick to features and not specific cars to get the most help. Asking about specific cars will get you a yes or no answer with little to no discussion. That probably won’t help you much.

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your first car should be a common-as-dirt sedan from the last few years

That rules out ALL european cars

Even here in Arizona, where cars don’t rust, I have not seen an Omni/Horizon in many years. Even in junkyards. In fact, even during my high school years, which were 1993-1997, the Omni and Horizon were not very common. The most common cars at that time were the Shadow/Sundance, Spirit/Acclaim, and Cavalier/Sunbird.

I don’t know how old you are, but I just turned 40 this year, and I would love to have a classic Shadow/Sundance or Spirit/Acclaim. They were everywhere, and now in the blink of an eye, they’re mostly gone. Maybe I see one 2-3 times a year.

I worked with a couple who had good luck with a 1983 Rabbit cabrio as a daily driver but keep in mind that they bought it after it had been gone through by a previous owner. And my co-worker could fix anything on that car himself. Finding a decent example of either would be tough so i’d suggest looking at the newest VW golf that fit’s the budget and getting a service manual for it.

My brother had a 86 Jetta as a college beater back in the early 2000’s but he could work on it himself. Ended up finding the german specialist he still uses to help track down what turned out to be a couple easy fixes that took the shop 30sec to figure out. He won’t buy a car that they wouldn’t work on.

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Junk when they were brand new.


Back in 1962 when I was replacing my first car, a 1947 Pontiac, a mechanic friend recommended as a used car, I should stick with Ford or Chevrolet. Mechanics were familiar with them and parts were readily available. I bought a 1955 Pontiac. I should have listened to my mechanic friend. Back then, each division of GM had its own engine. The Pontiac V8 was new in 1955 and the engine gave me a lot of trouble. Today, I think my mechanic friend would recommend buying a Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic for the same reason.



Again, +1
A cheap vehicle that was unreliable when it was new certainly didn’t become reliable (or durable) after the passage of more than 3 decades. Vehicles that were cheap when purchased are the ones that typically receive the worst maintenance, or no maintenance at all. Hence the total absence of these cars on the roads nowadays.

We don’t know any details about the OP’s budget, but if he has sufficient funds he would probably be best-off looking for a well-maintained Japanese or American or Korean car that is no more than 8 years old.

I actually have a soft spot for one version of the Omni - the Shelby GLH, which stood for “Goes Like Hell.” Fantastic little sleeper.

However, that little sleeper is old enough to run for president, and nothing sucks more than a first car that you can’t ever drive because it’s always being worked on.

Get something newer.

We might be able to give you better pointers if you’d tell us what your budget is.

… and that is equipped with a carburetor that younger mechanics have never before seen or worked on…



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I thought of the Kia Soul, maybe a Scion xB if you can find one in good condition.