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Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by coupdetat, Jul 23, 2011.

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  1. coupdetat macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    #1
    I am tasked with finding a car for my 17 year old younger brother. I've looked at about 10 cars now, ranging from very very sensible (Ford Taurus) to rather irresponsible (Mazda Miata).

    To be honest, all of the sensible FWD sedans I looked at were in horrendous shape. You can tell that most people who buy them (Taurus drivers, I'm looking at you) beat on them mercilessly. I drove one '05 Ford Focus that made me almost clinically depressed, it was in such sorry shape for a relatively new car.

    I've come down to the following two cars, both under $5000 and in excellent condition:

    2001 BMW 525i 5MT w/170k
    Pros:
    -Big, most likely very safe
    -Not too fast or powerful, encourages slow, smooth driving
    -Was obviously cared for by a woman who drove it almost exclusively on the highway
    -Parents can use it for classier nights out, looks good in the driveway
    -A classic - how many kids can have an E39 as their first car??

    Cons:
    -RWD, most likely will be driven by me during the winters (this is not really a con)
    -High mileage - although my parents don't mind maintenance under $2k/pop (i.e. no rebuilding anything)

    1997 Acura Integra GS 5MT w/120k
    Pros:
    -Probably bulletproof drivetrain, will last forever
    -Bone-stock
    -Low miles for a Honda
    -A classic - how many kids can have an Integra as their first car??

    Cons:
    -A little small, a little scary for a 17 year old kid to have, encourages irresponsible driving
    -Nowhere near as classy as the E39
    -I will never be able to drive it because I live in a city filled with Honda thieves
    -Previously owned by a high schooler, may have been hooned severely despite being stock

    My head says "go for the E39, it's probably safer", but then again, I worry about the RWD issue since my brother is absolutely, 100% not into cars. What am I missing here? Which should I choose?

    I don't really want to look at more cars, but suggest something else if you really, really, really feel that you need to.
     
  2. StvenH90 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2011
    Location:
    Florida
    #2
    Around here, tons... My first car was an Acura 3.2L TL (97 or 98, not sure exact year. It was many cars back). It was always down and needing attention. But I did do tons of stupid things in that car.

    I personally think the Miata is a great first car, just invest in a cage, seats, and harness (Not that pricey for a Miata).
     
  3. Obscurelight macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2011
    Location:
    NYC
    #3
    I would say get him the Bimmer, he'll probably be much happier especially if the car is well cared for and was mainly highway miles. I've never liked the reliability of Acura's they're just rebadged Hondas but actually is worse in reliability.

    Using rear wheel drive in the snow definitely isn't a good idea but if you have good snow tires you have the problem half solved, just be really careful at the turns (not fun going sideways in a Mercedes S Class without snow tires I tell ya but that was the first time I drove on snow.)

    As far as maintenance I probably don't need to tell you german cars aren't exactly the cheapest but as far as I know Infinity, Acura, and Lexus repairs aren't too far from their german rivals.
     
  4. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    #4
    Me too, and keep your mitts off of it. :p

    The Acura probably has double the indicated miles in wear n' tear, due to being thrashed about by another kid.
     
  5. Alaerian Guest

    Alaerian

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    #5
    Where do you live?

    FWD is pretty damn important for many areas that regularly experience inclement weather. Hell, for a new driver, FWD is pretty important in something even as simple as rain.
     
  6. coupdetat thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    #6
    I live in CT, but tons of people drive RWD Bimmers around here. Shouldn't be a big deal in the rain, but when it snows we might trade cars.

    I'm thinking that if the mechanic gives us the go-ahead, we'll buy the BMW. The Integra feels kind of flimsy for a new driver, I swear the doors must be 2 inches thick. But wow, what steering feel!
     
  7. Alaerian Guest

    Alaerian

    Joined:
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    #7
    Meh, I still disagree. For a new driver, the instability that RWD has the potential to cause just doesn't sit well.

    If you're going to get a car for a new driver, they need to become comfortable with it in all situations. Taking that car away in inclement weather doesn't really seem wise. Get a car that is "new driver friendly" in all weather, not just the easy stuff.
     
  8. senseless macrumors 68000

    senseless

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2008
    Location:
    Pennsylvania, USA
    #8
    BMW for a 17 year old is a bit pretentious. Plus, the repair costs will kill the budget. Acura for sure.
     
  9. r1ch4rd macrumors 6502a

    r1ch4rd

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2005
    Location:
    Manchester UK
    #9
    I think you are just being pulled in by the BMW badge. Personally, I wouldn't have either, but out of the two I think the accura is the better option.

    For the BMW
    - 170k miles is a lot even if they have all been on the motorway.
    - Bigger is not always better. Your brother might be better off with a smaller car that is easier to park and he is less likely to scrape through small gaps.
    - You say it is "most likely" safer - that's an assumption - you should check.
    - If it is such a classy car that your parents can use, then why so cheap?
    - It is a pretty powerful car. A quick Google shows 0-60 is less than 8 seconds. My first car did 0-60 in 12 seconds.
    - German cars are expensive to maintain. I have an Audi and some maintenance jobs can be very expensive (CAM belts, servicing etc.).

    For the Accura
    - "Nowhere near as classy..." - does that really matter for a first car?
    - "I will never be able to drive it..." - I thought this car was for your brother ;)
    - "May have been hooned severely" - again, an assumption. Get the car looked over if you are concerned.

    Out of interest, how many cars have you looked at?
     
  10. neiltc13 macrumors 68040

    neiltc13

    Joined:
    May 27, 2006
    #10
    Wow, these are the cars typcial 17 year olds start with in the USA?

    How on earth do you afford the insurance?

    If I was suggesting cars here for a budget of $5000 (or £3000) I'd go for one of these:

    2006 Ford Ka 1.3 - 49,000mi
    [​IMG]

    2005 Vauxhall Corsa 1.2 - 66,000mi
    [​IMG]

    Best deal of all though...
    2006 Fiat Grande Punto 1.2 - 41,000mi
    [​IMG]

    All of these cars came in under £3000. I don't know of any insurance company that would give insurance on a BMW 525i to a 17 year old for less than the price of the car itself. Most would probably just refuse.
     
  11. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #11
    Yes, threads such as this remind me of the huge gulf that exists at times between the US and parts of Western Europe.

    In any case, you are absolutely right. The cars (and prices) you have cited are exactly what I would expect to see a 17 year old be able to afford - including the cost of insurance which is prohibitive. A youngster, (or, more to the point, his or her parents), would need to be rather wealthy indeed in order to be able to afford to buy, run, and insure a vehicle such as a BMW 525i.

    Cheers
     
  12. coupdetat, Jul 24, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2011

    coupdetat thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    #12
    Actually, it's very cheap to add them since we aren't insuring HIM to be the primary driver of the car. It is simply another car in the family. Already checked with insurance, the 525i is an extra $150 a year and the Integra is an extra $300. It only gets expensive if he's the sole driver on his own policy.

    My mom wants the BMW badge, since we've always driven super-sensible cars (Prius, Camry Solara, Fit) and she feels like we look too "poor" in the neighborhood. I tried to convince her otherwise, but it's her money. I think she wants to gradually upgrade the whole stable as she finishes paying off house, brother's college, etc. I personally think the Integra is more sensible in the long term, but I really worry about its frenetic personality which tends to encourage speeding, weaving, etc., not to mention its small size and thin construction.

    Cars I've looked at:
    -2 Ford Tauruses
    -2 Ford Focuses
    -Volkswagen Jetta
    -Mercedes 300d
    -Mitsubishi Eclipse (2000, not DSM)
    -2 Mazda Miatas (first gen)
    -BMW 525i
    -2 Acura Integras

    Is there something else that we should look at? We ruled out Corollas, Accords, and Camrys because we just don't like them. All of the Civics listed in the area were not in good shape judging from the ads, they were clearly daily-driven very harshly or tastelessly modded. We ruled out SUV's because we feel they aren't maneuverable enough, and have rollover risk. Also, they are eyesores.

    As for the RWD issue, I think I'm going to ride with him a bunch of times in inclement weather and see how he does. We can do a little bit of work in parking lots as well. School is 2.5 miles away on suburban roads, and he'll likely drive a bare minimum in the winter.
     
  13. Alaerian Guest

    Alaerian

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    Location:
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    #13
    I honestly don't even know how to respond to this. That's possibly the most pretentious thing I've heard in a long time.

    get a copy of Auto Trader. Find mid to late 90s sedans from reputable brands like Ford, Chevy, Honda, etc. Stop worrying so much about how "good" you're going to look and buy a sensible car for a new drive.

    Good rule of thumb - statistics show that the very first car you have, you will most likely wreck or damage. Get something safe, easy to drive, and smart. For a 17 year old child, how "good" you look should absolutely never be a deciding factor. Tell your mother to grow up.
     
  14. coupdetat, Jul 24, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2011

    coupdetat thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
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    #14
    You've honestly never heard someone want a certain car badge? Where do you live, Soviet Russia? Sheesh.

    Anyways, we've looked at our fair share of sensible FWD sedans but just didn't like them. They tended to be poorly cared for and had lots of niggling issues. It's shocking how many people neglect maintaining their brakes and tires! One brand I forgot to look at is Subaru, although all of the examples for sale in my area seem to have really high mileage (close to 200k). People seem to really drive them into the ground.
     
  15. Alaerian Guest

    Alaerian

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    Location:
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    #15
    Sure, I want a particular "badge." However, I also don't want said car so I can look better to my neighbors.

    When I was 16, I wanted a Mustang. However, my parents were smart enough to realize that wasn't an appropriate car for a new driver.

    Seriously. You need to stop worrying so much about what it looks like, or how good you will look, or the "badge." Get a sensible car that will be easy to drive and keep him safe.
     
  16. coupdetat thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    #16
    It's not a matter of wanting to look better than our neighbors. We're far too cheap to ever want to spend real money on the kinds of cars our neighbors drive. But we just want to avoid looking trashy with a long line of old beaters out our driveway. A reasonable desire, I think.

    But in all honesty, this kid is extremely responsible. I don't think he has any desire at all to drive fast, or impress a girl, or be into girls at all. Think quiet Asian kid, straight-A near-perfect-SAT man-of-few-words. At this point, I still think a RWD drive car with modest power would be okay for him, but we'll probably send him off to school in one of our FWD cars solo for the first few months of winter. Then, at night or on weekends we could ride shotgun with him in the BMW and see how he does.
     
  17. Annerz macrumors regular

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    Location:
    New Jersey
  18. neiltc13 macrumors 68040

    neiltc13

    Joined:
    May 27, 2006
    #18
    If he isn't interested in a car like that then why get him one?

    Also, I wouldn't call a 2.5L car one with "modest power". I drive a car with a 700cc engine every day and you are saying you want him to drive one with a 2500cc engine? Where is the benefit to having such a massive block under the hood?

    I'd bet most people here have a car with an engine of less than 2 litres. I see so many people in cars like the ones above. They're nothing to be ashamed of, just good cars. Who wants to pay for a badge when you also have to pay £99 per hour for labour at the BMW dealership?
     
  19. Alaerian Guest

    Alaerian

    Joined:
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    #19
    Mystery solved. You're looking for what YOU want. You seem to be completely ignoring any shred of sane buying advice for a new driver.

    At this point in time, your best bet would be to remove yourself from looking and instead, let mom or dad do the buying. Sorry if it seems harsh, but I really don't think you have his best intentions in mind.
     
  20. coupdetat, Jul 24, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2011

    coupdetat thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
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    #20
    Hey now, this isn't a thread for whining about crappy European cars. The 2.5L in the BMW makes about as much power as a 4-cylinder Honda Accord.

    I really appreciate people's thoughtful advice about safety and other car choices. No need for sociopolitical commentary over a $4000 car.

    And actually, my parents want to buy the BMW more than I do. I didn't even realize I liked BMW's until I test drove this one, so the relationship is the other way around. Otherwise, I could have easily bought one instead of my Honda Fit a couple of years ago.

    I'm not sure why you think I'm ignoring "any shred of sane buying advice". Is there something wrong with my plan to carefully ease him into learning RWD? I actually believe it's smarter to teach a new driver to be in tune with his/her car and to fully focus on its behavior, which is why I mainly looked at manual transmissions.

    Old RWD Volvo wagons were pretty popular among students when I was in high school, and I don't recall anyone running into issues with them.
     
  21. StvenH90 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2011
    Location:
    Florida
    #21
    Old wagons with a bed in the back, you can't go wrong there!
     
  22. jca24 macrumors 6502a

    jca24

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2010
    Location:
    DFW
    #22
    honda/acura all the way! That bimmer is already a pos being that old and will be a maintenance nightmare!
     
  23. TheGenerous macrumors 6502a

    TheGenerous

    Joined:
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    Location:
    I'm an Austronaut
    #23
    Get him a used car, a cheap one.
    Don't be pretentious
     
  24. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2002
    Location:
    NYC
    #24
    If you're set on a prestige marque, a 3 Series XWD or A4 Quattro might be better for someone starting out. A lot of Connecticut had upwards of 5 or 6 feet of snow last winter, and RWD really is a PITA in the snow. Granted, I imagine it's easier to handle a 525 than my friend's supercharged, 430 rwhp E36 M3 that wants to kick the tail out if you breathe near the accelerator on damp pavement. ;)
     
  25. tigres macrumors 68040

    tigres

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    #25
    I have owned BMW for the last 5 of my cars (all used).

    I would get the BMW:
    Safe
    reliable
    babied
    clean
    not fast (this model you speak of)

    I had a 1995 525i (my first BMW) after coincidentally my first new owned car a 1991 Acura integra LS special.

    The Acura was a great car, but as it got older it too was harder to repair and expensive. BMW is just as easy to fix, or find parts for, and maybe easier than the Integra.

    Anyway, I am over the pretentious attributes of people who point at german car buyers. Mercedes, BMW, and the like are fine Autos, and people drive them for many reasons. I love the service, the looks, but more importantly- the Drive. I personally don't like driving any other brand, it's just that good, for me anyway.
     
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