Recently, I had an early morning appointment that required me to take a different route to work. This detour took me through an upscale suburb, which was a definite “step up” from the middle class suburb in which I live.
On this route, I drove down a busy 4-lane thoroughfare. While in the left lane, I checked the mirror and saw an oncoming vehicle quickly gaining on me. I put on my turn signal and changed lanes, over to the right. As soon as I settled into the right lane, I saw the vehicle go barreling by me in the left lane. It was a nice looking BMW SUV.
As it turns out, the car had no reason to be in a hurry, as the light ahead was about to turn red. As I approached the light, the nice BMW was already there. I looked over at the SUV, and saw that windows were down while music was blaring. I took a half-caring glance to see this character was that was driving the SUV.
I saw a group of teenage girls in the car.
Remember, this was a BMW SUV, and it was driven by a teenager carrying a group of other high energy, loud-singing teenagers.
It looked like they were having fun, and I thought to myself: “What high school kid WOULDN’T have fun in a BMW like that?”
Then I started thinking about their parents. My next thought was: “What parents would give their high school kids a sharp, recent year BMW SUV?”
Perhaps to their parents, a BMW is like a Yugo. But for mainstream society, that’s an aspirational vehicle. Except of course for people like me, that have no intention of buying a vehicle like that even if I could feasibly afford it!
Anyway, the point is, does a kid really need a luxury vehicle?
When I was a kid, my first car was a Honda Civic that had no power steering, no power windows, and was a no-frills vehicle. Oh, and it wasn’t really mine – my parents let me drive it. When I turned 17, they let me drive the car most every day as they bought another car for themselves. I ultimately took this same Honda to college.
What’s funny is that as I close in on 40, I’m still driving a Honda. This time, it’s an Accord. Aside from the old-fashioned steering and windows aspect of it, my first car was not much different than my current car. There isn’t exactly a big gap between a Civic and Honda in terms of prestige.
Would that bother you? It doesn’t bother me much. Maybe a bit, if I think about it, but then I remind myself that this was a cash purchase and there are no car payments. That financially responsible approach is more important to me than having a bigger brand name or fancier car!
Now, as for my daughter, I will still work toward getting her a car of her own when she’s 16 or 17. It might be my car that she gets, or it could be a reliable, safe, used one. Either way, I will play a role in making sure I make the decision of what she drives!
So, with my stories as a backdrop, I ask you:
What was your first car like? Tell us make, model, and what kind of shape it was in when you got it. Did you buy it, or were you given it by parents?
Also, what are your thoughts on kids with new drivers licenses getting a car? Do you feel they should always be expected to buy it themselves, or should parents play a role in purchasing the car?