What Is The Best Car For Junior?

People often ask me what the safest car is for their teenager to drive. They want safety, reliability, not too much power and nothing too fancy. As a testosterone-laden, 30-year-old male, I appreciate speed, handling, exhaust note and something that won’t disintegrate around me. Please note: I did not at any time mention safety. This makes my opinion of what a teenager should learn to drive on somewhat skewed. A teenager’s car should be the following:Small: Kids don’t need their grandfather’s Chevy Impala. This will lead to fender benders for which, frankly, you can only blame yourself.  A compact car will be like a cheat sheet when learning to parallel park. Small cars will also give a better feel for the road, communicating more of what the car is thinking and doing with your youngster. Think: Mini Cooper.

Slow: My first car had a massive 5-liter V8. Thankfully, it came from the era where American engines had less compression than a soft fuzzy kitten.  It was slow, I only thought it was fast. You should do the same for your kid: substitute a V8 for a 4-cylinder. More power equals more speed, tickets and sometimes accidents…get a 4-cylinder!  Anyone can go fast in a 400-horsepower Camaro, but it takes talent to get a 3-banger Nissan Micra up to speed. Driving a slow car at fast speeds builds driving talent. Think: Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris or Honda Fit.

Proper layout: Everyone knows the car gods intended all sporting cars to be front-engine and rear-wheel drive. Anyone who tells you different is crazy, or they are a member of a Subaru fan club. Our snowy climate throws a monkey wrench into those blessed laws between November and April. It’s because of this that I feel that all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive are also acceptable, just know it will be harder for junior to do burnouts after he/she aces that math test. In all seriousness, a rear-wheel drive, front engine car provides the best handling in dry weather. Think: Mazda Miata, Subaru BRZ and rear-wheel drive, manual BMW 3 series…they all get high 5’s.

3 pedals are better than 2: Fewer and fewer of us are teaching our children the ancient ritual of “rowing your own gears”. If we don’t educate the next generation about the classic art of manual transmission wizardry, the art will be lost. Driving manual will make your kid cooler at school, better prepared for college/university nights of having to be the designated driver in someone else’s car. Did I mention the undeniable cool factor? In an age of easy distractions, there’s something to be said for a car that DEMANDS your attention or it won’t go. Stop texting and start shifting.  Hondas are known for shifting like butter, so are Nissans.

Absence of gadgetry:Remember when you were a kid and had to walk to school, uphill both ways, wearing bricks for shoes because you were so poor? Now little Timmy/Nancy needs to have a heated steering wheel?! WHAT HAPPENED TO THE GOOD OLD DAYS?! Your child needs the following things in a car: air conditioning, ABS brakes, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, auxiliary input (CD’s are sooo last week) and they need Bluetooth. Navigation, backup camera, parking sensors and heated steering wheels are overkill. If you could make it to school with bricks on your feet, your kid can figure out what is behind/around them. Most new cars come with the above noted features and a sprinkling of new ones your kids will think are cool. Remember: the greatest gift you can give your child is the joy of burnouts and power slides.Forcing your child to drive a rear wheel drive, manual transmission, under-powered basic car will prepare them for a successful automotive future!

Auto Theft And Theft Related Feelings

Robbed, cheated, bilked, and left stranded at the side of the road…there is nothing more upsetting than having your automotive bliss snatched away by thieves. Recently, one of our own (an employee of Auto|One and a lover of metal) had her baby stolen. The victim: a 1983 Volkwswagen Westfalia. Yes, a camper van. Yes, this employee works for our Vancouver office. Yes, she’s a hippy.

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It doesn’t matter if it was your winter beater, prized classic or luxurious import. Dammit! You’ve been robbed. There are three distinct feelings that one goes through when they’ve been robbed of their babies.

  1. Hatred: This is directed toward the clowns (sorry, I have to keep this PG-13) who stole your baby. Why did they have to hit you where it hurts the most?! How am I supposed to go to work/car shows/show off/go fast/be cool/get phone digits of the opposite sex? You’re probably hoping that whoever stole it gets a really rare disease where their body literally eats itself alive – in super quick time – like in an Indiana Jones movie. Or that you find out who this person is and you stalk them like a shark does a baby tuna (just watched Shark Week…sorry). I’m not Dr. Phil, but I can 90 per cent tell you that these feelings are normal and welcome at a time like this. DAMMIT YOUR BABY IS GONE! BE MAD!
  1. Remorse: Why did I park the car in THAT spot!?!? I just knew it was going to get stolen! Why didn’t I use that steering wheel club I got as a Secret Santa gift from that creepy coworker?! Oh god, did I leave the windows up when I parked? Is that why it was stolen?! Did I leave any incriminating evidence in my car? McDonald’s cups, a terrible boy band CD or some other social faux pas?
  1. Guilt: This is usually the time when you start to realize just how much of a bond you have with your automotive brethren. No, it’s not just metal, plastic, rubber, leather and glass. It’s the sum of these parts that has you hoping the drag-on-society-who-stole-your-baby puts premium gas in your car. You’re also hoping that the thief is not joyriding or planning to chop it up. You’re hoping the thief is also a car nut and that they’re going to store it in their car-thief museum.

These feelings are normal. As someone who has caught thieves stealing cars, and someone who has a love for them (cars), I can tell you that all car thieves get what they deserve in the end. Whether it’s a frying pan in the face or the cold clamp of handcuffs, they can only get away with grand theft auto for so long. Auto Thieves are the lowest of the low….