Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

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R2
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Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by R2 » Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:16 pm

My 15 year old son now has his permit and is very much interested in cars.

I am neither very much interested in cars, and even less interested in working on them.

He has shown great interest in buying an older "classic" car. It is his desire to buy an older car "classic" car for his first vehicle.

I am not knowledgeable about cars, and am not particularly interested. Because he seems to be very passionate about this, I don't want to dissuade him from looking at these older cars, but I am unenthusiastic the prospect of him owning an unreliable older vehicle.

It is my preference for him to buy an old "newer" car that has more modern safety features and fewer miles. But I am not knowledgeable enough about classic cars to have a good sense of their reliability and safety. Hence this post.

He has ~$8K in savings and we have been having discussion about the total cost of ownership of the car, including purchase price, gas cost, insurance cost, and maintenance.

There is a '70 Chevy Nova SS that is for sale in the neighborhood over which he is currently obsessing. I've made it clear that he is not allowed to buy this car before he has his license, and that we have not yet decided when he should be able to get a car.

Are there any Boglehead experts with advice about classic cars? I did a web search and didn't find a good source related to total cost of ownership of these old cars. Are they a money pit? Or are they a reasonable alternative to older modern cars? If so, any advice related to models to research?

chaz
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by chaz » Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:33 pm

a '70 Chevy Nova SS sounds good, though I like a corolla.
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dailybagel
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by dailybagel » Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:41 pm

Is crash safety a concern to you? The safety features of a newer car--anything made within the past 15 or 20 years--will make it so much more crashworthy than anything from the 1970's.

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Mister Whale
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by Mister Whale » Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:43 pm

In my opinion, I would not let my son buy any car that old to drive as his first car.

1) There are way too many safety features missing from older vehicles.

Image

I'm not saying that the reduction in deaths is entirely attributable to advances in safety features in automobiles, but I do believe that these advances are a significant factor.

2) Teens are way more likely to have an accident. Per the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens:

... per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than older drivers to crash.

Among teen drivers, those at especially high risk for motor vehicle crashes are:

* Males: In 2006, the motor vehicle death rate for male drivers and passengers ages 15 to 19 was almost two times that of their female counterparts.
* Teens driving with teen passengers: The presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers. This risk increases with the number of teen passengers.
* Newly licensed teens: Crash risk is particularly high during the first year that teenagers are eligible to drive.

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btenny
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by btenny » Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:51 pm

Yes older cars have issues but if you are an hobbyist they are a blast. Yes a slightly used Toyota Corolla or similar car will be more relaible and safer but will your son buy one and not revolt? If you force the Corolla are you rerouting his life for the better or worse?

I think letting a young person buy a older car is a great way to augment and expand their mechanical knowledge. Yes the car will probably cost more than a used economy car. Yes he will spend lots of money on this old car making it like he likes and fixing the broken stuff but he will learn a lot. Will he become a mechanical engineer? Will spending time on this car keep him out of trouble with drugs and other bad things? Will he become a super car mechanical engineer on the Indy 500 circuit from this knowledge? Will he become a executive at GM as he gets older? Some other super car thing? Who knows about anything in the future but feeding a good kid desire like this seems worthwhile to me...

Good luck
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livesoft
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by livesoft » Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:52 pm

Ford Country Squire. Now that's a Classic.
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wageoghe
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by wageoghe » Sun Jun 24, 2012 2:04 pm

You should ask yourself a few questions...

1. Do you feel comfortable with your son driving a high horsepower car with virtually no safety features? No ABS. No ESC. No crumple zones. Maybe no seatbelts. No airbags.
2. What will the insurance cost be for a young male driver driving a "hot rod"?
3. Do you feel comfortable with your son hauling other kids around in this car?
4. Would you feel comfortable with your son riding around in some other 16 year old kid's 40 year old 300 horsepower car? Maybe with a bunch of other kids?

Maybe not very Bogleheadish, but I would be less concerned with the reliability or cost to maintain this car than I would about the very real safety issues. Young male are probably the worst drivers, statistically.

When I was in high school in the late '70s/early '80s, muscle cars were very much in vogue. Trans Am, Firebird, Camaro. Older cars like the Nova your son is considering, Chevelle, Mustang, Charger, etc. lots of kids had them. Some were car nuts that worked on their old cars. Some were "rich" and had been given new cars. Most survived the experience of owning high powered cars swith no I'll effects. They might even have learned valuable lessons in responsibility or picked up a useful skill. Others didn't.

As a parent of a 21 year old, I can't imagine agreeing to buy, or "let" her buy a car like that at age 16. This car will probably be on your auto insurance, at least to start out. Even if he gets his own insurance, he and his car could affect your ability to get the best rate on umbrella insurance. Our insurance company (USAA, they might be more strict than other companies) does not allow a child living at home to NOT be considered when determining eligibility for and/or cost of umbrella insurance, even if the child is on his/her own auto policy.

He will have plenty of time and, hopefully, money to own a classic car when he is older.

I just don't see much good coming from a 16 year old novice driver own a 40+ year old 295+ horsepower vehicle.

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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by tibbitts » Sun Jun 24, 2012 2:32 pm

Question: does you son have at least most of the knowledge and facilities (space, tools) to do repairs and maintenance on an older car? $8000 isn't going to buy you a pristine older car. There will probably be a constant need to replace parts that normally deteriorate from either time or usage - basically all the of the rubber parts and many mechanical parts as well. Working on an older car can be an educational hobby, but like many hobbies it can be expensive, and you have to be prepared for a lot of downtime. You need extra money for parts, and for services that you can't do yourself (machine shop services, for example.)

Something that I don't know anything about is engineering some of the newer technologies into older vehicles. Airbags might be (I'd guess) almost impossible, but ABS might be doable for a few thousands dollars or less. Crumple zones you can't do, but roll cages you probably can.

Paul

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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by sport » Sun Jun 24, 2012 2:42 pm

At age 15, even though he knows the mechanics of driving, and has passed the state test, he is not a thoroughly accomplished driver. Not having the perspective of age, he thinks he is a good driver, but he does not have the driving experience that only comes over a period of time. I remember, when I was young, I could look back and realize that I was a better driver than I had been, a year or two earlier. This effect lasted about 5 years, after which I could no longer detect improvement.

The combination of an inexperienced driver, a high-powered car, and lack of safety features is a bad bad bad idea. It is best described as an accident waiting to happen. Since you say you are not a car person, perhaps you do not understand just how high-powered those old muscle cars really are. The power and performance are startling to someone who has not experienced it. Back in the day, I owned one. I know what they can do. The proper use of such a car requires judgement that comes with maturity, and driving skills that come with experience. Your son has neither.

Jeff

rfburns
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by rfburns » Sun Jun 24, 2012 2:53 pm

Does your son want a 'classic car' or a 'muscle car'? There is a difference. That '70 Nova SS is both. I should know, my first car was a '70 Chevelle SS. That baby was bad. Real bad with a 454 under the hood. I eventually I got tired of fixing it all the time and could not afford to buy the amount of gas it drank. That was a long time ago and I'm lucky I survived that period looking back.

My guess is the insurance rate would be very high for a young driver today as it was then. I have a fondness for those old cars, but glad I don't own one anymore.

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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by reggiesimpson » Sun Jun 24, 2012 3:06 pm

I am not too sure of your definition of "classic car" but i would put a much larger word in front of it.............SAFER!

cudaman
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by cudaman » Sun Jun 24, 2012 3:15 pm

R2 wrote:Are there any Boglehead experts with advice about classic cars?


My passion in life has been classic and muscle cars. I can't even describe what that interest has meant to me. I love it and it is all good. I've met some wonderful people with this hobby and have had a blast with it all. I remember the passion you describe that your son has when I was a teenager. I am much older now and it is no different. My first passion was for a '65 Barracuda. I was able to convince the owner in 1974 to sell it to me. I still own that car. As I said, it is all good! I recommend you let your son pursue his passion.

Jerry

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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by investor1 » Sun Jun 24, 2012 3:22 pm

If he is paying for it, you shouldn't be overly concerned. He needs to learn how to be financially reasonable. If it ends up being a mistake, he will learn from it. If it is his passion, encourage him.

Make sure he understands the money which it will cost to maintain the car. Make sure he understands he is responible for that. Make sure he understands that it might be difficult to get the parts which he needs which means he might have to go without a working car from time to time. He will still need to get to work/school. He needs a plan for that.

You might want to take this opportunity to teach him about saving. Work out a deal with him such as "if you save X% for college (or whatever other goals he has), you can buy whichever car you want". It sounds like he is a pretty good saver if he already has $8k. Maybe teach him something about investing.

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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by HardKnocker » Sun Jun 24, 2012 3:26 pm

You would be very foolish to let your 15 year old kid drive a '70 Nova SS. That is a muscle car. What do you think a 15/16 year old kid will do with a car like that? He will race it on the street! :oops:

Would you give him a loaded gun to carry around? That is really what you are doing.

His/your insurance rates will be through the roof too.

Use your common sense.
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btenny
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by btenny » Sun Jun 24, 2012 3:26 pm

Maybe you should let him buy and fix up the SS but not drive it except with supervision. Maybe you title the SS in your name and be the primary driver or only get classic car insurance such that is is not driven except to shows or special events. Then you buy him a daily driver car like a Corolla.

Just some thoughts
Bill

Dave76
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by Dave76 » Sun Jun 24, 2012 3:48 pm

1970s Rolls Royce Silver Shadows can be had for $8-$10k. I'm sure they're safe.

R2
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by R2 » Sun Jun 24, 2012 4:16 pm

Thanks for the helpful replies.

My son is mechanically inclined. It would not surprise me if he were to pursue some mechanical trade or profession. He is a good student and may choose to become a mechanical engineer (like me). I am considering letting him tinker with an old car for this reason. Many of the best engineers that I work with either grew up working on cars or other equipment.

Based on his comments about cars we see when we are out driving, I think he would be satisfied with an older "classic" car instead of a muscle car. As parents, we could set parameters about the type of car he could purchase, so I am open to suggestions for "classic" cars that he will not be tempted to race.

And yes, I do let him walk around with a loaded gun. He shoots trap competitively.

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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by Dave76 » Sun Jun 24, 2012 4:23 pm


rfburns
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by rfburns » Sun Jun 24, 2012 4:44 pm

R2 wrote:Based on his comments about cars we see when we are out driving, I think he would be satisfied with an older "classic" car instead of a muscle car. As parents, we could set parameters about the type of car he could purchase, so I am open to suggestions for "classic" cars that he will not be tempted to race.


Old small block mustangs come to mind. Fuel efficiency will be lousy with all old carburated engines, but perhaps that is not a concern. An easily available source for repair parts may be a bigger concern.

lightheir
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by lightheir » Sun Jun 24, 2012 5:06 pm

Not going to add much to the car discussion myself, but I'm interested in how a 15 year old teenager accumulates $8k in savings? That's impressive!

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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by hicabob » Sun Jun 24, 2012 5:12 pm

unless he does all the work - yes it would be a "money pit". Besides ... antilock disk brakes, airbags and computer designed crush zones are a fine idea, especially for a 16 yo boy who, statistically, is likely to crash it anyways.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by TomatoTomahto » Sun Jun 24, 2012 5:42 pm

A while ago, I took a fair amount of flack for considering buying my son a new or nearly new Volvo xc60 to begin his driving in a very safe car. Apparently, many BH are more concerned about teaching their children financial lessons (not a bad thing in and of itself) than protecting their children in the event of an accident. This is further borne out in the replies to this thread.

I don't want to be offensive or maudlin, but I would ask that you do a little "imagining." imagine a phone call that informs you that your son has had a tragic accident, and one where perhaps a more modern, safer car would have resulted in an entirely different outcome. How diminished would your desire to defer to his "passion" be?

If he wants to indulge in this hobby, there will be plenty of time later. His first car should be as safe as the finances will allow.

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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by Dave76 » Sun Jun 24, 2012 5:47 pm

Claude wrote:
If he wants to indulge in this hobby, there will be plenty of time later.


How do you know that?

Besides, owning an old and dangerous car when you're still single and childless is better. Safety doesn't matter much under those circumstances.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by TomatoTomahto » Sun Jun 24, 2012 6:13 pm

Dave76 wrote:
Claude wrote:
If he wants to indulge in this hobby, there will be plenty of time later.


How do you know that?

Besides, owning an old and dangerous car when you're still single and childless is better. Safety doesn't matter much under those circumstances.
And before I waste any more money on his education. :oops: Silly me.

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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by sport » Sun Jun 24, 2012 6:17 pm

Dave76 wrote: Safety doesn't matter much under those circumstances.

:shock:

Dave76
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by Dave76 » Sun Jun 24, 2012 6:18 pm

Driving an old car is not a death sentence. His son wants a car, not a motorcycle.

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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by Dave76 » Sun Jun 24, 2012 6:19 pm

jsl11 wrote:
Dave76 wrote: Safety doesn't matter much under those circumstances.

:shock:


Well, it doesn't.

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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by tibbitts » Sun Jun 24, 2012 6:20 pm

Claude wrote:A while ago, I took a fair amount of flack for considering buying my son a new or nearly new Volvo xc60 to begin his driving in a very safe car. Apparently, many BH are more concerned about teaching their children financial lessons (not a bad thing in and of itself) than protecting their children in the event of an accident. This is further borne out in the replies to this thread.

I don't want to be offensive or maudlin, but I would ask that you do a little "imagining." imagine a phone call that informs you that your son has had a tragic accident, and one where perhaps a more modern, safer car would have resulted in an entirely different outcome. How diminished would your desire to defer to his "passion" be?

If he wants to indulge in this hobby, there will be plenty of time later. His first car should be as safe as the finances will allow.

The same argument can be made about allowing kids to participate in contact sports, or any number of other potentially dangerous activities. (Re)building an older car can be an obsession - it can take many months of lonely days and nights spend in the garage to get it on the road. Once it's finished, some kids might drive the aggressively; others might think about the months of labor they'd put into building it, and treat it more gingerly than a new xc60.

Paul

livesoft
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by livesoft » Sun Jun 24, 2012 6:25 pm

I guess an alternative would be a classic car that was always up on blocks in the garage. I've had a couple of roommates with those kinds of cars.

May I suggest an old Jaguar or Alfa Romeo? They might never end up in a condition to drive. Best of all worlds for a 16-year-old gear head. And no need for car insurance on something that stays in the garage. :)
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investor
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by investor » Sun Jun 24, 2012 6:50 pm

I agree he should buy the car and feed his desire to play with things mechanical. The best engineers, electronic and mechanical, were first technicians. This will give him some valuable hands on experience not taught in most schools.

investor

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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by gwrvmd » Sun Jun 24, 2012 8:23 pm

If he is looking at the car as a classic not as a muscle car or a hot rod that is a good sign. Classic car owners baby their cars, God forbid you dent one.
Not all $8,000 cars are junk rehab jobs. the classic car market is down with the rest of the economy. If you you watched the Barrett Jackson Classic Car Auction from Orange Co CA today you saw some beautiful restored 20-30 year old cars go for $10,000. If the auction was going on one more day, I would be on a plane for the West Coast tonight. Gordon
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by cacophony » Sun Jun 24, 2012 9:19 pm


MathWizard
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by MathWizard » Sun Jun 24, 2012 9:25 pm

I'd vote against the NOVA SS.

My son has been driving about a year. We have him drive our '98 LeSabre.
front wheel drive, 4 wheel ABS, dual airbags, traction control , the best
safety in its class when it was built. The NOVA SS has none of these
safety features.

He's planning on being a mechanical engineer just like your son.
I've worked on cars, (rebuilt motors, changed transmissions, brakes, exhaust, Ujoints, etc.)
from that era, and things are much different now.
My son worked was on a team which made a robot which competed in the FIRST competition
in May. That would probably be better training for an ME. (My BS is in engineering, but not ME.)

If you have any snow where you are, a the back end rear wheel drive car can come around really easily.
(It's pretty scary sliding sideways down a highway at 60 MPH. This has never happens with a Front Wheel Drive car.)

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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by Dave76 » Sun Jun 24, 2012 11:32 pm

MathWizard wrote:I'd vote against the NOVA SS.

My son has been driving about a year. We have him drive our '98 LeSabre.
front wheel drive, 4 wheel ABS, dual airbags, traction control , the best
safety in its class when it was built. The NOVA SS has none of these
safety features.

He's planning on being a mechanical engineer just like your son.
I've worked on cars, (rebuilt motors, changed transmissions, brakes, exhaust, Ujoints, etc.)
from that era, and things are much different now.
My son worked was on a team which made a robot which competed in the FIRST competition
in May. That would probably be better training for an ME. (My BS is in engineering, but not ME.)

If you have any snow where you are, a the back end rear wheel drive car can come around really easily.
(It's pretty scary sliding sideways down a highway at 60 MPH. This has never happens with a Front Wheel Drive car.)


I don't think those safety features are necessary. Every car manufactured in 1970 has a collapsible steering column (as far as I know). That's all that matters to me.

How can you really teach someone to drive when the trainer vehicle is equipped with FWD, ABS, ESC, and an automatic transmission? I don't see how anybody can learn that way. I learned to drive commercial vehicles that had none of these things. If I had 'learned' to drive with all those safety gadgets at 16, it would have been like learning to drive all over again.

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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by Mordoch » Mon Jun 25, 2012 6:26 am

I still don't think the safety risks have been sufficiently emphasized enough. (Its not so much about insurance rates as the risk of receiving a call from the highway patrol that no parent ever wants to hear.)

Car accidents are the leading cause of death for 16 to 19 year old males, with a male driver his age about 5 times more likely to have a fatal car accident than males in the 30-59 age category per mile driven. This is a critical phase in which he is still learning to truly effectively drive, but brain development wise his brain is not merely as developed and he's more likely to take foolish risks and decisions.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor ... =120537839

This is of course merely the risk of death, with there also being a serious risk of crippling or disfiguring injuries from a sufficiently severe crash. Note however that the statistic given in terms of fatalities was with most of those teens driving reasonably modern vehicles with crumple zones and airbags in at least a large portion of the vehicles by the time that statistic was compiled, its not simply about collapsible steering wheels with regards to modern safety advances. (There has simply been continued advances in various elements of car safety over the years.)

The risk of driving a car without modern safety equipment are statistically vastly higher than any remotely mainstream sport, or most other activities parents would possibly allow their kids in participate in at this age. We simply don't necessarily think of it that way because of the necessity of most people in the US eventually needing to learn to drive, and its generally has been believed you could only somewhat delay the risk by only letting them start driving when they are somewhat older.

The evidence is features like airbags, crumple zones and the like have very considerably reduced the risk of a fatal accident with the rate dropping by more than half since 1980, and this is certainly not simply about accidents being avoided. Even if you are going to be skeptical about a few other modern features in many cars, various safety ones associated with accident protection are simply highly dangerous to go without for a male in his age group who is driving.

The suggestion about allowing him to get one but only driving it with your supervision while he ordinarily drives something more modern and safe that you got for him might be an option. Another option might be finding something else for him to work with mechanically for the moment and promising to buy him a classic vehicle when he turns 21 (when the risk at lease has dropped a bit) if he has shown himself responsible enough by that point if you need to deal with his disappointment regarding being denied what he would like right now.

If you absolutely decide you're going through with this, I would not only make sure that its not suitable for racing but also of a significant size, although you should be aware to some degree you're only transferring his risk to that of others on the road by doing this.

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Mister Whale
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by Mister Whale » Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:37 am

Dave76 wrote:How can you really teach someone to drive when the trainer vehicle is equipped with FWD, ABS, ESC, and an automatic transmission? I don't see how anybody can learn that way. I learned to drive commercial vehicles that had none of these things. If I had 'learned' to drive with all those safety gadgets at 16, it would have been like learning to drive all over again.


I honestly don't understand your perspective, I'm sorry to say. Are you equating "learning to operate a vehicle on a roadway and becoming familiar with the conventions of the road" with "knowing how to induce a sideways drift" and "perfecting heel-and-toe technique"?

Mordoch wrote:I still don't think the safety risks have been sufficiently emphasized enough. (Its not so much about insurance rates as the risk of receiving a call from the highway patrol that no parent ever wants to hear.)

Car accidents are the leading cause of death for 16 to 19 year old males, with a male driver his age about 5 times more likely to have a fatal car accident than males in the 30-59 age category per mile driven. This is a critical phase in which he is still learning to truly effectively drive, but brain development wise his brain is not merely as developed and he's more likely to take foolish risks and decisions.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor ... =120537839

This is of course merely the risk of death, with there also being a serious risk of crippling or disfiguring injuries from a sufficiently severe crash. Note however that the statistic given in terms of fatalities was with most of those teens driving reasonably modern vehicles with crumple zones and airbags in at least a large portion of the vehicles by the time that statistic was compiled, its not simply about collapsible steering wheels with regards to modern safety advances. (There has simply been continued advances in various elements of car safety over the years.)

The risk of driving a car without modern safety equipment are statistically vastly higher than any remotely mainstream sport, or most other activities parents would possibly allow their kids in participate in at this age. We simply don't necessarily think of it that way because of the necessity of most people in the US eventually needing to learn to drive, and its generally has been believed you could only somewhat delay the risk by only letting them start driving when they are somewhat older.

The evidence is features like airbags, crumple zones and the like have very considerably reduced the risk of a fatal accident with the rate dropping by more than half since 1980, and this is certainly not simply about accidents being avoided. Even if you are going to be skeptical about a few other modern features in many cars, various safety ones associated with accident protection are simply highly dangerous to go without for a male in his age group who is driving.


Couldn't agree more. And I'm a car guy who has owned fast cars (older and newer) and who enjoys working on his own vehicles. I believe, however, that there may be a middle ground that hasn't been mentioned yet.

I would see if your son would be amenable to a performance car from the mid-to-late-90s or so. Here's an imperfect blog post that has some ideas along the lines of what I'm talking about. Cars like these have readily available parts, strong aftermarket support, large online support communities, a reasonably high reliability factor and some degree of safety features. Personally I would lean towards an older BMW (there will be lots of work to do, styling is good, driving experience is "pure"), Acura or VW.

Additionally, if he has a jones for speed I would see that he took some performance driving classes and perhaps got involved with the sport of autocrossing. With any of the above cars that I listed he would get a lot of enjoyment out of driving his car at the limit (without excessive amounts of speed), tuning his car for performance, and charting his improvement. Another venue might be kart racing.

There are lots of potential outlets for a young person who likes cars, speed, working with his hands and/or the social aspects of owning a fun car. I stand by my original statement that I wouldn't let my teenage son drive a '70 Nova SS, but I would rather encourage him to explore other aspects of car culture that would involve his driving a more modern machine.
" ... advice is most useful and at its best, not when it is telling you what to do, but when it is illuminating aspects of the situation you hadn't thought about." --nisiprius

Dave76
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by Dave76 » Mon Jun 25, 2012 9:23 am

Mister Whale wrote:
Dave76 wrote:How can you really teach someone to drive when the trainer vehicle is equipped with FWD, ABS, ESC, and an automatic transmission? I don't see how anybody can learn that way. I learned to drive commercial vehicles that had none of these things. If I had 'learned' to drive with all those safety gadgets at 16, it would have been like learning to drive all over again.


I honestly don't understand your perspective, I'm sorry to say. Are you equating "learning to operate a vehicle on a roadway and becoming familiar with the conventions of the road" with "knowing how to induce a sideways drift" and "perfecting heel-and-toe technique"?

Mordoch wrote:I still don't think the safety risks have been sufficiently emphasized enough. (Its not so much about insurance rates as the risk of receiving a call from the highway patrol that no parent ever wants to hear.)

Car accidents are the leading cause of death for 16 to 19 year old males, with a male driver his age about 5 times more likely to have a fatal car accident than males in the 30-59 age category per mile driven. This is a critical phase in which he is still learning to truly effectively drive, but brain development wise his brain is not merely as developed and he's more likely to take foolish risks and decisions.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor ... =120537839

This is of course merely the risk of death, with there also being a serious risk of crippling or disfiguring injuries from a sufficiently severe crash. Note however that the statistic given in terms of fatalities was with most of those teens driving reasonably modern vehicles with crumple zones and airbags in at least a large portion of the vehicles by the time that statistic was compiled, its not simply about collapsible steering wheels with regards to modern safety advances. (There has simply been continued advances in various elements of car safety over the years.)

The risk of driving a car without modern safety equipment are statistically vastly higher than any remotely mainstream sport, or most other activities parents would possibly allow their kids in participate in at this age. We simply don't necessarily think of it that way because of the necessity of most people in the US eventually needing to learn to drive, and its generally has been believed you could only somewhat delay the risk by only letting them start driving when they are somewhat older.

The evidence is features like airbags, crumple zones and the like have very considerably reduced the risk of a fatal accident with the rate dropping by more than half since 1980, and this is certainly not simply about accidents being avoided. Even if you are going to be skeptical about a few other modern features in many cars, various safety ones associated with accident protection are simply highly dangerous to go without for a male in his age group who is driving.


Couldn't agree more. And I'm a car guy who has owned fast cars (older and newer) and who enjoys working on his own vehicles. I believe, however, that there may be a middle ground that hasn't been mentioned yet.

I would see if your son would be amenable to a performance car from the mid-to-late-90s or so. Here's an imperfect blog post that has some ideas along the lines of what I'm talking about. Cars like these have readily available parts, strong aftermarket support, large online support communities, a reasonably high reliability factor and some degree of safety features. Personally I would lean towards an older BMW (there will be lots of work to do, styling is good, driving experience is "pure"), Acura or VW.

Additionally, if he has a jones for speed I would see that he took some performance driving classes and perhaps got involved with the sport of autocrossing. With any of the above cars that I listed he would get a lot of enjoyment out of driving his car at the limit (without excessive amounts of speed), tuning his car for performance, and charting his improvement. Another venue might be kart racing.

There are lots of potential outlets for a young person who likes cars, speed, working with his hands and/or the social aspects of owning a fun car. I stand by my original statement that I wouldn't let my teenage son drive a '70 Nova SS, but I would rather encourage him to explore other aspects of car culture that would involve his driving a more modern machine.


I think it is a mistake to be that dependent on the technology because it may not be available when you want/need it. Because I learned on a car with a manual transmission, RWD, and no ABS or ESC, I was in the best possible position to understand the handling characteristics of a large truck (school bus, in my case).

A manual transmission is good for teen drivers because it requires more driver involvement. Automatic transmission, numerous cup holders, electrical outlets for charging and operating mobile gadgets = distractions.

Crumple zones have been around for decades. My Volvo 240 had those. It's old technology.

Valuethinker
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Jun 25, 2012 10:53 am

R2 wrote:My 15 year old son now has his permit and is very much interested in cars.

I am neither very much interested in cars, and even less interested in working on them.

He has shown great interest in buying an older "classic" car. It is his desire to buy an older car "classic" car for his first vehicle.

I am not knowledgeable about cars, and am not particularly interested. Because he seems to be very passionate about this, I don't want to dissuade him from looking at these older cars, but I am unenthusiastic the prospect of him owning an unreliable older vehicle.

It is my preference for him to buy an old "newer" car that has more modern safety features and fewer miles. But I am not knowledgeable enough about classic cars to have a good sense of their reliability and safety. Hence this post.


It's the old story. Reliability is completely it depends re age and condition.

Safety. Much safer, generally. But no car is safe driven badly or aggressively. Testosterone and inexperience are the big killers.


He has ~$8K in savings and we have been having discussion about the total cost of ownership of the car, including purchase price, gas cost, insurance cost, and maintenance.

There is a '70 Chevy Nova SS that is for sale in the neighborhood over which he is currently obsessing. I've made it clear that he is not allowed to buy this car before he has his license, and that we have not yet decided when he should be able to get a car.

Are there any Boglehead experts with advice about classic cars? I did a web search and didn't find a good source related to total cost of ownership of these old cars. Are they a money pit? Or are they a reasonable alternative to older modern cars? If so, any advice related to models to research?


The joys of fatherhood.

We know the downsides:

- the things are not safe not compared to a more modern car with ABS, air bags etc. Air bags are probably the critical one (but seatbelts even more so!)

- bad driving beats good cars 5 to 1, but a car with air bags (which only work for head on collisions) is just going to be a lot safer than one without, and (for head on only) substantially safer than one just with seat belts

And yet he has his heart set on it, and it could be a pride and joy for him: a part of his personality that is just not getting used. He might turn into a very careful owner since its his pride and joy.

You have to be wise, and right, and yet try to get his 'buy in'.

So it's probably worth:

- going over the safety issues with him - what is your issue, what are you concerned about, the stats you have seen
- trying to identify newer cars that he would enjoy, that have more safety features (I think airbags is probably the big one)
- making sure besides passing his test he attends additional safe driving classes, possibly skid techniques course etc. (danger of that, he then drives more aggressively)

A lot depends on how much he will drive it, vs. how much he will just own it, fix it up etc.

If he still wants his classic, then maybe you have to do that thing that parents do, say yes, and pray the Highway Patrol never calls.

I would add that I view a collapsible steering column as utterly essential since even with a seatbelt you will likely hit that in an accident.

You don't own them, your children. They are, in the words of the poet

'children of life's longing for itself. They dwell in a future where you can never go'.

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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by TN_Boy » Mon Jun 25, 2012 10:55 am

Dave76 wrote:
MathWizard wrote:I'd vote against the NOVA SS.

My son has been driving about a year. We have him drive our '98 LeSabre.
front wheel drive, 4 wheel ABS, dual airbags, traction control , the best
safety in its class when it was built. The NOVA SS has none of these
safety features.

He's planning on being a mechanical engineer just like your son.
I've worked on cars, (rebuilt motors, changed transmissions, brakes, exhaust, Ujoints, etc.)
from that era, and things are much different now.
My son worked was on a team which made a robot which competed in the FIRST competition
in May. That would probably be better training for an ME. (My BS is in engineering, but not ME.)

If you have any snow where you are, a the back end rear wheel drive car can come around really easily.
(It's pretty scary sliding sideways down a highway at 60 MPH. This has never happens with a Front Wheel Drive car.)


I don't think those safety features are necessary. Every car manufactured in 1970 has a collapsible steering column (as far as I know). That's all that matters to me.

How can you really teach someone to drive when the trainer vehicle is equipped with FWD, ABS, ESC, and an automatic transmission? I don't see how anybody can learn that way. I learned to drive commercial vehicles that had none of these things. If I had 'learned' to drive with all those safety gadgets at 16, it would have been like learning to drive all over again.


Dave76,

I usually read the car-oriented threads on this site, and I can't help but notice on many such threads you come in with comments to the effect that cars are no safer than they were 30 years ago, and modern safety features are unnecessary.

This is obviously a very unusual position, and I was wondering if you had any data to back up this viewpoint. As best I can tell, statistics indicate cars are safer (fewer deaths per miles driven), the government thinks cars are safer (they have to meet increasingly stringent requirements, including actual crash tests), insurance companies seem to think cars are safer, consumer organizations (for example, Consumer Reports) think cars are safer, even "car guy" publications like Car and Driver think cars are getting safer.

What do you know that they don't?

I learned to drive in the 70s, and it sure seems to me that comparing equivalent vehicle types (economy car to economy car, family sedan to family sedan, etc), that cars designed and built in the 2000s have:

- better passive safety (crumple zones, complete set of airbags, rollover protection, etc)
- better active safety (anti-lock brakes, ESC, generally better handling)
- better gas mileage
- as good or better acceleration
- overall better reliability (as measured by large surveys)

Thousands of automotive engineers have labored for the last 30 years to make cars drive better and be safer. On a product where the competition is brutal -- an expensive consumer good which almost everybody buys. Why do you think these engineers have all failed? Your viewpoint is very unusual.

(Incidentally, how do you feel about power brakes and steering? What if those things fail when I need them ....)

TN_boy

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bottlecap
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by bottlecap » Mon Jun 25, 2012 10:56 am

I guess this is why it's bad for 15 year olds to have $8,000 in the bank. You have a little bit of a problem because it's his money. However, in general:

1. Classic cars are money pits;

2. They are not nearly as safe as newer cars;

3. Powerful, unsafe and 15 years old is a bad combination.

However, from a 15 year old's perspective, gas, upkeep and insurance cost may make this a decision you can gently nudge him off of. His insurance costs alone will be at least $1,500 per year, no?

It may also be a teachable moment as to the value of money. I'm a little torn, as I always thought I'd get my brother's 68 Mustang GT. After my brother and father pouring bucket loads of time and money into it for many years, it was surreptitiously sold to the wealthy 15 year old down the street. He couldn't even drive! In the end, it was probably for the best.

Good luck,

JT

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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by MathWizard » Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:04 am

I think it is a mistake to be that dependent on the technology because it may not be available when you want/need it. Because I learned on a car with a manual transmission, RWD, and no ABS or ESC, I was in the best possible position to understand the handling characteristics of a large truck (school bus, in my case).


Yes, I drove a truck also. The odds that a new driver will ever drive a truck are pretty low.
The odds that a new driver will ever drive a vehicle without front wheel drive, air bags , or ABS is pretty low.


Crumple zones have been around for decades. My Volvo 240 had those. It's old technology.


Volvo was the leader in saftey. Had the OP been talking about a Volvo, I don't think that there
would have been any safety issues brought up. The '70 NOVA SS would likely not have had crumple zones.
Crmple zones were added in American cars during the '70s, but not until after 1970.

Instead of a Volvo, I had a '67 Camaro RS. I put in the 327 and 4BL carb. and dual exhaust myself.
0-50 in half a block, but I don't know the top end. I had it up to 115 before the front end was getting
too light on the blacktop road to steer effectively. Remembering the classmate who died on a similar
road when the 16 year old driver lost control at 130, I backed off. I am relatively risk averse, but at
19 (or 16) sometimes excitement overrules common sense.

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Mister Whale
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by Mister Whale » Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:09 am

TN_Boy wrote:Dave76,

I usually read the car-oriented threads on this site, and I can't help but notice on many such threads you come in with comments to the effect that cars are no safer than they were 30 years ago, and modern safety features are unnecessary.

This is obviously a very unusual position, and I was wondering if you had any data to back up this viewpoint. As best I can tell, statistics indicate cars are safer (fewer deaths per miles driven), the government thinks cars are safer (they have to meet increasingly stringent requirements, including actual crash tests), insurance companies seem to think cars are safer, consumer organizations (for example, Consumer Reports) think cars are safer, even "car guy" publications like Car and Driver think cars are getting safer.

+1, respectfully.
" ... advice is most useful and at its best, not when it is telling you what to do, but when it is illuminating aspects of the situation you hadn't thought about." --nisiprius

Dave76
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by Dave76 » Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:14 am

TN_Boy wrote:
Dave76 wrote:
MathWizard wrote:I'd vote against the NOVA SS.

My son has been driving about a year. We have him drive our '98 LeSabre.
front wheel drive, 4 wheel ABS, dual airbags, traction control , the best
safety in its class when it was built. The NOVA SS has none of these
safety features.

He's planning on being a mechanical engineer just like your son.
I've worked on cars, (rebuilt motors, changed transmissions, brakes, exhaust, Ujoints, etc.)
from that era, and things are much different now.
My son worked was on a team which made a robot which competed in the FIRST competition
in May. That would probably be better training for an ME. (My BS is in engineering, but not ME.)

If you have any snow where you are, a the back end rear wheel drive car can come around really easily.
(It's pretty scary sliding sideways down a highway at 60 MPH. This has never happens with a Front Wheel Drive car.)


I don't think those safety features are necessary. Every car manufactured in 1970 has a collapsible steering column (as far as I know). That's all that matters to me.

How can you really teach someone to drive when the trainer vehicle is equipped with FWD, ABS, ESC, and an automatic transmission? I don't see how anybody can learn that way. I learned to drive commercial vehicles that had none of these things. If I had 'learned' to drive with all those safety gadgets at 16, it would have been like learning to drive all over again.


Dave76,

I usually read the car-oriented threads on this site, and I can't help but notice on many such threads you come in with comments to the effect that cars are no safer than they were 30 years ago, and modern safety features are unnecessary.

This is obviously a very unusual position, and I was wondering if you had any data to back up this viewpoint. As best I can tell, statistics indicate cars are safer (fewer deaths per miles driven), the government thinks cars are safer (they have to meet increasingly stringent requirements, including actual crash tests), insurance companies seem to think cars are safer, consumer organizations (for example, Consumer Reports) think cars are safer, even "car guy" publications like Car and Driver think cars are getting safer.

What do you know that they don't?

I learned to drive in the 70s, and it sure seems to me that comparing equivalent vehicle types (economy car to economy car, family sedan to family sedan, etc), that cars designed and built in the 2000s have:

- better passive safety (crumple zones, complete set of airbags, rollover protection, etc)
- better active safety (anti-lock brakes, ESC, generally better handling)
- better gas mileage
- as good or better acceleration
- overall better reliability (as measured by large surveys)

Thousands of automotive engineers have labored for the last 30 years to make cars drive better and be safer. On a product where the competition is brutal -- an expensive consumer good which almost everybody buys. Why do you think these engineers have all failed? Your viewpoint is very unusual.

(Incidentally, how do you feel about power brakes and steering? What if those things fail when I need them ....)

TN_boy


I think modern cars and their advertised 5 star safety ratings give drivers a false sense of security, even encouraging young and inexperienced drivers to take risks. Today's cars may be safer, but cars manufactured 25 years ago are also safe and many continue to offer dependable service at a low cost. My Chrysler K car is one example.

On new vehicle design -- Auto manufacturers have lost a sense of style and proportion. Even the grilles on the front of cars are a bit garish. In fact, the design flaws have led to limited visibility, driver discomfort, bumpier rides, and an increase in bent wheel rims. That's why more tire sidewall is a good thing. Higher door sills increase driver safety, but they also reduce visibility. Also, I cannot comfortably rest my arm on the door sill of my 2012 Hyundai.

SP-diceman
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by SP-diceman » Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:30 am

Dave76 wrote:
I think modern cars and their advertised 5 star safety ratings give drivers a false sense of security, even encouraging young and inexperienced drivers to take risks. Today's cars may be safer, but cars manufactured 25 years ago are also safe and many continue to offer dependable service at a low cost. My Chrysler K car is one example.


My dad drove a 1949 Hudson Hornet, well into the 1980’s.

In the late 1970’s in a crash
(a car came in the “out door” of a repair shop)
the other car was crushed, the Hudson had a scratch on the bumper.
(fortunately, the “crush” was on the passenger side and the other driver was not hurt)

While you didn’t have seat belts and air bags you were basically in a tank compared to the flimsy body style and plastics of today’s cars.


Thanks
SP-diceman

cacophony
Posts: 413
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by cacophony » Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:52 am

Dave76 wrote:Crumple zones have been around for decades. My Volvo 240 had those. It's old technology.


Yet...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3l4YBf2tjag
Last edited by cacophony on Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
daytona084
Posts: 773
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by daytona084 » Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:54 am

SP-diceman wrote:My dad drove a 1949 Hudson Hornet, well into the 1980’s.

In the late 1970’s in a crash
(a car came in the “out door” of a repair shop)
the other car was crushed, the Hudson had a scratch on the bumper.
(fortunately, the “crush” was on the passenger side and the other driver was not hurt)

While you didn’t have seat belts and air bags you were basically in a tank compared to the flimsy body style and plastics of today’s cars.


Thanks
SP-diceman


Diceman,
The notion that old cars are "tanks" and new cars are flimsy is a myth. I call your attention to the video link posted by user "cacophony" earlier in this thread:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joMK1WZjP7g

In this video a 2009 Chevy Malibu is crashed into a 1959 full size Chevy Bel-Air. It just might change your mind about which one is the "tank" and which one is "flimsy".

Dave76
Posts: 564
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 9:05 pm

Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by Dave76 » Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:56 am

wjwhitney wrote:
SP-diceman wrote:My dad drove a 1949 Hudson Hornet, well into the 1980’s.

In the late 1970’s in a crash
(a car came in the “out door” of a repair shop)
the other car was crushed, the Hudson had a scratch on the bumper.
(fortunately, the “crush” was on the passenger side and the other driver was not hurt)

While you didn’t have seat belts and air bags you were basically in a tank compared to the flimsy body style and plastics of today’s cars.


Thanks
SP-diceman


Po

Diceman,
The notion that old cars are "tanks" and new cars are flimsy is a myth. I call your attention to the video link posted by user "cacophony" earlier in this thread:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joMK1WZjP7g

In this video a 2009 Chevy Malibu is crashed into a 1959 full size Chevy Bel-Air. It just might change your mind about which one is the "tank" and which one is "flimsy".


I believe the production of that video was politically motivated. Why else would they use an X-frame car for the test? '49 Hudson Hornet was not an X-frame car. They could have used one of those.

Keim
Posts: 186
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by Keim » Mon Jun 25, 2012 12:10 pm

I have driven a modified 1976 Monte Carlo for almost thirty years. It is my first car. Just took it on a 700 mile roadtrip last month.

I mention this to establish my "Car Guy" cred :)

With that established, I would not buy my teenager a muscle or classic car. In addition to the numerous safety and maintenance reasons given above, I'll add: A first car is likely to be abused. It probably won't be well maintained, and will get lots of dings and dents. Why buy a nice car if this is likely?

My teen will get a well maintained car that is about 10 years old. New enough to have most safety features and decent mileage, old enough to be inexpensive to purchase and insure.

If your son really wants a classic, he'll have plenty of chance later, after he has learned to drive well.

And, there is always the possibility that his first car will turn into a bit of a classic while he owns it, as mine has done!

Dave76
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by Dave76 » Mon Jun 25, 2012 12:11 pm

Not everything that's new is better. Take vacuum cleaners, for instance. Early 20th century vacuums had a dust chute that bypassed the motor, for optimum longevity. The problem? Vacuum manufacturers were not selling enough of them. They lasted too long. That's why the dust/dirt picked up by today's vacuums passes through the motor. I knew a lady that used a vacuum for 50+ years. That's unheard of today.

Same with pianos.
Last edited by Dave76 on Mon Jun 25, 2012 12:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Dave76
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Re: Classic Car for Teen Driver(?)

Post by Dave76 » Mon Jun 25, 2012 12:21 pm

Keim wrote:
If your son really wants a classic, he'll have plenty of chance later, after he has learned to drive well.



Until his wife gets in the way...

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