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Why his kid will drive a beater

Older cars build character and skills.

By Karen Datko Sep 28, 2009 8:24PM

The first car owned by Paul Van Lierop, the FiscalGeek, was a 1977 AMC Gremlin, presented to him for his 16th birthday. The year was 1989. If cars are a personal statement, it was a disaster.


"'Wayne's World' had not come out," Paul wrote. "AMC Gremlins, Pacers or Hornets were definitely not cool. I was actually laughed at by scores of kids the day I drove it into the parking lot of our high school."


Why would he now insist that his own kids' first cars will be equally used and unhip? He listed seven good reasons in a post called "Why my kids will drive a piece of crap." It's a fun read and also prompted many readers to reminisce about their first vehicles.


(Ours was an ancient VW Bug we bought for $500 when we finished grad school.)


Among Paul's seven reasons:

  • A crappy car builds character. Paul said, "Snap materialism in the bud right at the age of 16 just by the gift of a Ford Fiesta, a K-car, or a Terdcel."
  • It puts that sense of entitlement people have in proper perspective. Maybe that old car truly is good enough.
  • The kid learns new skills, like car maintenance and repair. This car will need fixing.

Paul anticipated a backlash from parental types who buy their kids only the newest and safest models. His response: Plenty of older cars are safe too.


But what if it breaks down? "We don't want Jimmy or Cindy stuck by the side of the road at night," he can hear them say. "Give them a prepaid cell phone and a AAA card. Done."


Related reading:

Published Sept. 28, 2009



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