I saw an article that named the top five cars newly licensed teens wanted. It listed:
And the number one most desired car is a Ford Mustang.
I’m not sure if old models were acceptable or if these kids polled wanted a brand spanking new ride.
Insane as it is, I know there are kids that are handed keys to a brand new vehicle for their sixteenth birthday.
Others get the family hand-me down.
Some have parents that'll pick up a used vehicle for a couple grand or maybe co-sign a loan for a used car.
Then, there’s a few, like me, whose parents felt if you want a car, buy one you can afford. This was another example of where I learned what you want and what you get are often two very different things.
I started working part-time when I was fifteen but I was seventeen before I was able to collect a fair amount of savings to purchase a car. Prior to that, I drove my mom’s mini-van when I had permission. After awhile, I was desperate for freedom. I decided my piggy bank was as full as it was gonna be, I had about $1500 to spend. I shopped the Pennysaver. This was before Craigslist and regular use of the internet. Hell, my family had just gotten a home computer and dial up. I can remember introducing my mom to AOL. What a mistake that was, but that’s a story for another day. I found an ad for a 1979 Monte Carlo. I took it for a test drive. I was in love. It could’ve only been sweeter if it were a Chevelle. Sadly, the Monte was not meant for me. It needed some work, the price was more than I could afford and they didn’t accept my best offer. Disappointed, but I was back on the hunt. I had trouble finding a reliable car in my price range. Then, my mom mentioned a friend she made on AOL (ironically, enough) was selling a car for a grand. It was an ’89 Nissan Sentra. It was beat up and worn, the body was rusted midway up the doors, but it ran well. I offered a couple hundred less than the asking price, he accepted. It might not have been the Monte Carlo or a Chevelle, but eight hundred dollars bought me freedom. All things considered it was a small price to pay.
That Sentra got me everywhere I needed to go. It wasn’t cute, it only got uglier over time, the windshield cracked, and the driver’s window stopped rolling down. Other than regular oil changes, the only time I put money into it was when I slid on ice and hit a median on the way to class one snowy cold day. I did a number on my control arm, but it still got me where I needed to be. I couldn’t complain.
I drove that car for a couple years and racked up miles with 25 mile commutes between home, work and college classes. Eventually, I was ready to take on a monthly car payment and I was able to get employee pricing on a Ford Contour (Frank was working for the dealer, at the time). I couldn’t get anything for my trade, so I sold it privately. My dad’s coworker had a daughter that just turned sixteen. $250 and it was hers. I’m sure it wasn’t what she wanted, either, but it meant freedom. I was happy to pass on the torch.
So, what did you want? And what did you get?