How to Reduce Your Teenager’s Monthly Car Budget

I’m lucky; I have a few years to think (worry) about my kids driving. However, I know soon enough the time will come when they will want their own car, want to start driving themselves to school, and head out on the road alone.

Besides being a source of great dread for parents, having a teenage driver can also have a serious impact on parents’ budgets. Of course there is the obvious expense of buying that first car (hopefully a nice used one), but there are other significant expenses such as gas, maintenance, and most of all, insurance.

Car insurance for teenagers is often a deal breaker in many families. I remember when I started driving, my mom’s premiums went up significantly when she added me to her policy. Not because I was a fast-driving, irresponsible 16 year-old, but because I was a 16 year-old boy, and statistically, I was more likely to have a major accident.

We offset some of the costs because my first car was not necessarily a sexy choice – it was a 1985 Buick Century with silver faded paint. But, it had been my grandmother’s car and driven very little. It also had a big engine, and drove like a muscle car.

Fortunately, there are a few ways to save on car insurance for teenagers.

1. Buy a safe, reliable car not for looks, but for function. So many teens expect to see a brand new red sports car sitting in their driveway the morning they turn they 16. For most families, that is simply not realistic. What teens should hope for is a safe, reliable way to get from point A to point B. Besides, those shiny red sports cars often cost the most to insure.

2. Consider raising deductibles to offset an increase in premiums. There’s a big IF attached to this advice. Only increase deductibles IF you have an adequate emergency fund saved to easily cover the out-of-pocket expense of major repairs. If you are still paying off debt, or have yet to save a fully-funded emergency fund, it’s probably better to keep the deductible low and continue working towards your financial goals.

3. Sign up for a safe-driving course. Many insurers offer discounts to those who’ve successfully completed a safe-driving, or defensive-driving, course.

4. Keep your grades up. Many insurers also offer discounts for students who achieve and maintain a high grade point average.

5. Consider insuring your home, automobiles, and any other valuables with the same insurer. Insurance companies can often cover your home, your autos, and any other type of insurance required. Consumers can usually leverage some type of “multi-line” discount for having more than one type of insurance with the same company.

6. Add teens to your roadside assistance program. You will sleep better when kids head off to college, or off on a long road trip for their senior get away, if you know they have a quality roadside insurance plan. I’m partial to Allstate’s plan because you don’t have to have Allstate insurance to sign up, and you only pay for it when you use it. You can also register up to 5 drivers on your account (perfect for families with teen drivers).

You can sign up directly using the widget below if interested:

$50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Now for the fun stuff. Allstate/Good Hands Roadside has donated one $50 Amazon gift card for me to give away to one lucky reader.

To enter, tell me what your first car was and feel free to share any memories of that first car. Leave the answer below in the comments section as your first, mandatory entry.

Bonus entries for extra chances to win:

2 entries

  • Register for the program and comment that you registered (you may register directly using the widget above)
  • Download the mobile app and comment that you downloaded it

1 entry

  • Tweet about the giveaway and comment that you tweeted the following message, “Just entered the Allstate #ghrgiftcardgiveaway via @FrugalDad. Could win a $50 Amazon Gift Card. Your turn!”
  • Share post to Facebook (through widget or copy and paste link) and comment that you shared it

Good luck!

No purchase necessary to enter or win. Odds of winning are not increased by a purchase.

Giveaway ends Monday, August 29, 2011 at 8:00 pm EST, and is open to US only. All entries must be properly recorded in the comments to count (i.e. Link to tweets, Facebook page, etc). Winner will be selected on August 31st, 2011. Winner will be notified via email and has 24 hours to respond. If winner does not respond, a new winner will be chosen and notified.

Disclosure: Allstate is providing the prizes for this program at no cost to me.  This program is not administered or sponsored by Allstate or its affiliates, but solely by me.

Comments

  1. My first car was a silver Chevrolet Cavalier. I had it for a year, maybe two. When my sister moved overseas, my dad gave me her car and sold mine. Now I drive the same car, but yellow.

  2. My first car was a purple Nissan Altima. I thought it looked like a grandma car, but I missed it after my dad totalled it.

  3. My first car was a ’74 Plymouth, baby blue and slow as a turtle, but I still had lots of good times in it.

  4. My first car was a Ford XR4Ti – loaned to me to use from my boyfriend’s parents. It was a great little sporty car and I loved it! My first car purchase was a Ford Escort and it lasted me 15 years! Love my Ford’s!

  5. My first car was a grey/silver 1989 Buick Century Limited. I received it as a Christmas/graduation gift from my parents and got it in December of 1995. When my dad asked me what I thought of the car, I was like eh its alright and he’s like well its yours. Like you said it wasn’t a very sexy car, but she was loaded with automatic locks, windows, even the seats and once I put a CD player in it, she was a great car that even some of my friends envied. The only downside was the block heater didn’t always work especially if I didn’t have the ability to plug it in overnight at a friends house during those cold North Dakota winter’s! I can honestly say, she has a fond place in my heart and I wouldn’t mind owning one exactly like it again or maybe give to my kids when they are ready for their first car, which is nice in California that most kids don’t care about driving until they are 18 because of the no friends allowed in your car until you are 18 law :)

  6. My first car was a little silver Honda Civic. My dad took me to help me buy it and make sure I got a fair deal, and I paid for it with money I had saved from my grandma. It had no air conditioning, which was miserable in Fresno summers, but it was a great little car, and I loved it.

  7. First car was a 1983 Buick Skylark. It was an automatic but I had to brake with my left foot and keep pumping the gas with my right or it would stall. Passenger side door did not open so I had to run around and let my friends out. Hated it then, laugh about it all the time now.

  8. My first car was a Blue convertible VW bug with a brand new rockin’ stereo and speakers in it. My dad gave it to me for my 17th birthday. I loved that car. Driving from school with the top down and the music blastin’ is one of my fondest high school memories. Unfortunatly it was really hard to smog every year, and it grew mold on the interior in the winter, so I sold it and bought myself a used Honda Accord instead.

  9. My first car was a 1986 Pontiac 6000. It was previously owned by an elderly man, and was almost never driven. It was immaculate, but it smelled like crayons and no matter how hard I tried I could never quite get the smell out. On a warm day, it would almost take your breath away. It was like driving a big crayola box but I was lucky to have it and it was very dependable.

  10. My first vehicle was a Honda CB360 (motorcycle), it was orange, and a great bike to learn on.
    My first actual car was a Ford Tempo, it was reliable for the first 2-3 years, and after that needed too much work to just keep it reliable. I got rid of it after fixing it.

  11. My first car was a white 1985 full-size GMC Truck. I learned to drive in 2000. My dad got it through work (he’s a contractor) where it had been used as a truck for the painting crews to use around the job site. Therefore, it was called “the paint truck” until someone (my sister, I think) renamed it Blanco Diablo. It ran great, and had two gas tanks, which was pretty cool. However, it was a bear to park, so I always parked way out in the parking lot boonies so that a) I wouldn’t hit anything and b) nobody would park by me.

  12. A manual shift, blaze orange Plymouth Horizon with sexy fake-wood stickers on the sides. No self-respecting thief would ever consider it and total lack of horsepower ensured racing or even spirited acceleration was not a consideration. But it did get from A to B, so hey!

  13. My first car was an old orange 3 speed Jeep. Can’t even remember what it was called. I got it in 1981 and it was old then. :) A great way to save on gas for teens that drive is to not let them drive to school unless they pay for the gas. The bus is already going there why should an extra trip be made?

  14. My parents made me save for my car and told me they would match whatever I saved by the time I was 16. I had been working the max number of hours allowed by schools per week since I was 14 just for that car and managed to sock away 2300.00 in my car fund.

    My first car was a 1995 green mercury cougar (not the cool looking sports car that the Cougar is now, or was even in 1996 ((Figures!)). It used to belong to an elderly gentleman that never drove and it was all decked out luxury and leather for its year! My friends and I called it the Green Hornet…. we put zebra car seat covers a floor mats down, and decked out the ceiling interior with crazy bumper stickers — we had a million adventures in that thing!

  15. My first car was a Saturn Twin Cam Station wagon passed down from my dad. It was green. I loved that it was a stick so that I know how to drive one!

  16. My first car was a beige 1988 volvo station wagon, a hand-me-down from the parents, and an awesome ride Because of that car, I learned how to drive a manual, how to do a lot of my own maintenance (everything is spread out and accessible), and I think it helped keep my ego in check (i started driving it around 2003)

  17. My first car was a very well-used 1965 CJ-5A Jeep. It was definitely a fixer-upper but was a ton of fun to work on. I learned alot about cars, maintenance, and driving with that car…

    I also downloaded the mobile app. Thank you!

  18. The first car I got to drive was a Ford Escort. It got totaled when a big truck missed a stop sign and plowed into it. The first car I owned was a Ford Focus. It was gold and the dashboard squeaked no matter what I tried to do to stop it!

  19. My first car was a 4-door brown Buick. I can’t remember the model. It was ugly and I was embarrassed to drive it, but it got me through college.

  20. My first car was an 83 Ford Ranger pickup. My dad bought it from our neighbor just before my Sr. Year of HS so I could drive my sister and me to school and I could still stay for extra-curriculars while she took the bus home. The advantage of the pickup? There was only room for maybe one other person, so on rare occasions I could take one of my sister’s friends home, too (since my own friends were also driving).

  21. My first car was a 1990 Hyundai Excel handed down from my brother. I liked it, except for the fact that it had no A/C.

  22. My first car was a 1989 Isuzu I-Mark
    My parents surprised me with it and then told me I owed them the $900 they paid for it, luckily they accepted payments. Was a good little car until the timing belt went while cruising down the highway.

    To this day I have still never seen another one on the road and can barely find any pictures on-line either. Luckily I have a few old pictures at home for memories.

  23. My first car was a ’93 Ford Explorer. Forest green, and old, considering I got it when it was about 9 or 10 years old, but it served its purpose well (this was before gas prices were sky high, too).

  24. My first car was a used 1986 silver Honda Accord. It was a hand-me-down from my Mom and I enjoyed learning to drive in it.

  25. My first car was a 1969 Plymouth Valiant with a slant-six engine. The color was army green, ugliest car you’ve ever seen but it ran for years.

  26. My first car was a 1970 Opal Cadet. What I remember most is that I could fill up the tank on very little money and the thing ran forever. :-) Thanks for this opportunity!
    reducefootprints at gmail dot com

  27. My first car was a green/teal grand prix. Her name was Gertrude (the Gorgeous Green Grand Prix) and I had to share “her” with my Mom until my sophomore year of college. Fun times :)

  28. I inherited a 1988 Chevy Nova from my older sister (and both parents before her). When I was a little kid, I left crayons in the backseat on a hot day, and for the rest of the Nova’s life, we had colorful seat belts. The A/C was very weak, and everything was manual. I had a CD deck installed to try to make it a little more glamorous… without much success. Overall it was a good little car and I was sad to see it go.

  29. My first car was a 2000 Ford Focus. I had that car for over 10 years before I sold it in January of 2010 and began a car-free lifestyle. Now I do all my traveling, including two 800+ mile summer vacations, by bicycle. My touring/errand bike was the best investment I’ve ever made.

  30. Ok I’m showing my age (lol!). My first car was a 1985 Chevy Chevette. I loved that car.

  31. My first car was a Pontiac J2000 and I remember getting to go out and start it up in the driveway before I turned 16 and couldn’t wait to drive it.

  32. My first car was a hand-me-down brick-red 87 volvo that was given to me (literally, given) when I finally got my license at 23. It had an awesome turning radius and died a spectacular death on the freeway in 2005 due to a radiator malfunction from which there was no return. Best car ever.

  33. My first car was a burgundy Plymouth Sundance. I loved that car – inexplicably. After I traded it in I even went back to visit it! At first I was bummed because they said it had been hauled away by the wholesalers, but then it turned out it was sitting in the back lot waiting to be hauled out. I still have a picture of my first car tucked into the sun visor of my second, which sits unused while I drive around my third. The transition from the second to the third wasn’t nearly as hard, but then again, I kept the second around so there wasn’t the sense of loss.

  34. My first car I bought myself at age 21. I had it for three years and drove all over the east coast with it. It died a sad death by drowning in the Delaware River and yes I was in it. God was faithful to spare my life and replace those things I lost in the accident, but most faithful to grow my faith in Him.

  35. I’ve been a city-dweller since I left my parents home for college (17 years ago) and have never owned my own car. On occasion I drive my husband’s car but 99% of the time I walk to work or to do errands. In high school, I used to borrow my mom’s Taurus.

  36. I didn’t have my own car until I was in college, but the first car I drove was my Dad’s 1967 Ford Truck. It had manually locking hubs, standard, no power steering or brakes, with 3 speed shift on the column. At the time, I hated that beast, but now I am grateful as I can drive a standard shift (which seems to be a dying skill). Once I mastered the truck, I was allowed to take my driving test in my Mom’s AMC Matador. There was an ugly duck of a car, but sturdy.

    Those are some fond memories.

  37. I grew up in NYC and thought I would never have to drive in my life and subways were where it’s at.
    Then I moved to Rochester, NY and got my license at 19 after 4 tries and my first car, a 1993 Volvo in 2006. It was in terrible shape and digging it out of the western NY blizzards all by myself every morning was not fun. Being a first generation teenage driver, I didn’t have much (useful) help! haha

    When I finally took it into the mechanic, he said “This car is a death trap! If you want to stay ALIVE, do NOT drive this car over 35 MPH.” Granted, I didn’t take it out of the shop, I just let him fix it… :)

    Now I drive a 2003 Dodge Neon that’s in a bit better shape :)

    I tweeted here: http://twitter.com/omglily

  38. My first car was a 1985 chevy blazer – same age as me! When you turned on the left blinker, the wipers would wave once. You couldn’t start her without pumping the gas in a specific pattern, and the speedometer took time to warm up on cold mornings. In the end of her life, she decided to be a standard, and you had to hit the brake and the gas simultaneously to shift from Reverse to Drive, or she’d stall out.

    Her name was Doris, and she taught me all I know about safe driving…because my driving was the only thing in that car I could make safe! (RIP Doris, 2005)

  39. My first car was the family hand-me-down Buick Estate Wagon. It wouldn’t be a good choice now, because it probably sucked gas – the engine was a 454. It was a great car for carrying friends around, going to the drive-in, etc.

    I registered and downloaded the app

  40. My daughter learned about responsibility with her first car. In addition to drivers education we made her take the high schools basic car maintenance course. She car change tires, etc. if needed. It was a 10-12 year old Nissan 4 door sedan white. She had to pay for half of the cost of the car. She had to pay her part of the insurance, which was the amount our car insurance increased. She had to cover the cost of gasoline, repairs etc too. If she didn’t have the money, she didn’t drive. She had the car until the beginning of her senior year of college when a tire blew out on the highway. She had one minor fendor bender and recked a couple of tires, but overall didn’t do anything really stupid as a new driver. She knew she’d be responsible for paying when something happens, so she tried her best to make sure she didn’t have to pay for anything. She is a good responsible driver.

  41. My first car was a 1985 Ford Thunderbird that had been my parents. I loved that it had a sunroof!

  42. My first car was a 1979 chevy. (I was born in 1979, too funny.)

    When my sister turned 17 a few years ago my mom’s insurance went up over $300 a month (we live in NJ.) She had an older car, and that was for liability only. That is insane. There is no way she could pay that (she was in high school.) She would have had to work 25 hour as week at her minimum wage job to cover insurance, gas, and repairs. Not possible with school as well.

    I now have a son who will be driving in 3 years and I am not sure what we will do as I can not add $300 a month to budget.

  43. My first car was a 1972 Chevelle station wagon – a huge beast of a car with a great engine and tons of room. It was two different tones of primer gray, because my dad intended to repaint it but didn’t want to pay the paint shop for the prep work, but somehow never got beyond the sanding and priming stage; two tones because he accidentally got dark gray primer instead of light and was too lazy to go back and exchange it. I inherited the car when my mother died, a year before I was legally able to drive; I was mortified then. But she had a lot of advantages – I could haul the entire pep band AND their instruments to games all by myself, she was fast as hell and I used to race the rich kids with their new red sports cars and no one beat me, and best of all in DC? NO ONE CUT ME OFF. Ever. We called it the Marymobile and I still miss that car even though I only got to drive it for a year or so – I didn’t start driving until 1986.

  44. My first car (when I was 16) was a 1959 Chev. station wagon, olive green, high miles, had been owned by a utility company. 6-cyl., three speed standard transmission. It used oil, so I always carried a gallon in the back just in case. The best thing was a mounted spotlight (used when it was a utility car) that allowed my friends and I to spy on all sorts of people at night!

  45. My first car was a Chevrolet Cavalier Z22 Sport Coupe. I was living on the other side of the country going to university when my parents drove it out to me to surprise me on my 18th birthday!!! It eventually developed a difficult/expensive to repair starter problem and my dad rigged up a “lightswitch” in the ashtray that I would use to start the car. I had that car 5 years until I moved out of the country. My grandpa then drove it for awhile and sold it to someone…when I visit my hometown I still see it driving around 13 years later!

  46. I got my first car in 1996. It was a silver 1986 Pontiac 6000. The things I remember most about that car was the fact that the cruise control only worked when the windshield wipers were on, and every time I made a right hand turn, the overhead light came on, and would only shut off it I opened and shut the door!

  47. My first car was an aquamarine ’93 Saturn SC2 coupe. It was ten years old when it became mine, and I’m pretty sure much of the interior was molded (and it leaked!), but it was a stick shift and had a sun roof.

  48. hi, my first car was a light blue honda civic, boy was I proud, I paid $500.00 cash, I remember being cold in the winters, because the car had a big hole on the floor of the drivers side which I had to keep duct taping, memories, LOL

  49. My first car was an old chevy beretta I paid about $1,800 for. It had no heat, no air, almost no stereo, and the headliner was ripped out. I drove it for years!

    For my three year old, she will someday inherit the car I’m driving now! By then it’ll be almost 20 years old. :-)

  50. My first car was an old Ford Escort my parents got for me at an auction for my 21st birthday. The bottom was all rusted out, so in the wet NY weather, passengers had to keep their feet off the remaining floor. When I stopped for a light, water would come rushing forward from the back, and then whoosh back again when I accelerated. I kept a mop in the car.

  51. I have a pic of my daughter at age 16 in front of her first car, a 2001 Toyota Corolla with only ~60K on it, in pristine condition. Arms crossed. Deadpan. Looking like she’d rather be caught square dancing. I mean, it’s boring white. With no power locks. And how do the windows work? (You have to roll them down, I said.) She had her heart set on a smart car. Get a job, I said. Besides, in the Land of Hummers and SUVs you and your smart car would end up being a grease spot on someone’s windshield. Four years later, after seeing so many of her friends’ eye-candy jalopies literally disintegrate, she’s come to appreciate her less-than-ideal car for what it truly is–a safe and reliable means to get around. Teenager’s first car: $7K. Not having to say “I told you so”: priceless.

  52. My first car was a 1976 Honda Civic…my dad paid I think $250 for it in 1981 because the original owner drove it until it died (never changed the oil!) so my dad hoisted the engine out and rebuilt it in our carport! I loved that little car…

  53. My first car was a Plymouth Horizon. I was 16 and I also had my first accident in this car at age 18. A little fender bender to me,but the insurance company considered it “totalled!” Then I bummed rides until I was 24 and bought my 1st VW!

  54. My first car was a Mercury Sable. It was probably 6 years old when my parents bought it for me. It was big and heavy. A safe bet for a new driver. My friends weren’t impressed by the car, but loved the fact that six of us could pile in without being cramped.

  55. My first car was a ’66 VW Bug. It was lowered and mint green and was a sweet looking ride that was so ridden with mechanical problems that I and my family dubbed it “Satan’s Chariot”.

    The upside was that my next five cars were older VW’s and I was very proficient at fixing them on the side of the road, as I never paid over $800 for any of them.

    The best example of above was when I was out on a date in my junior year and threw out my drive belt (probably the 20th), and had to ask my date for her panty hoes (hose?) to use as a temporary belt. They worked so well I left them on there for two days before replacing them.

    Forgot to mention that (like most older VW’s) I had very little in the way of floorboards (imagine Fred Flintstone). I still look longingly at Bug’s though.

  56. My first car was a 1976 Plymouth Grand Fury. It had a 318 V8 in it and was one year older than me. It was the first car I went over 100 mph in (over half a lifetime ago), and then promptly killed the brakes as I was approaching a T intersection and stood on them. I also lost a hubcap going around the corner of that intersection as I was still going pretty fast.

  57. My first car was a 1969 red VW Bug, 11 years old at the time my father bought it (for only $100.00!) and I had to share it with a younger brother. When he went into the Navy it became just mine by default. I LOVED that car!

  58. I went to a private school where the parking lot was full of Saabs and BMW’s and old Benzes. What did I show up in? A one-ton Chevy Silverado with a 454 under the hood. Man I loved that truck. And I loved towering over those cars in the parking lot. I guess no one ever accused me of being a girly-girl!!

  59. My first “car” was a big full-size Dodge Van… It was a massive beast that sucked back fuel like there was no tomorrow (it was around 25L/100km). Back then fuel cost about half what it does now, but even then $5 would barely move the needle on the 130L tank. There was no way I could ever afford to actually FILL it to the top so there were lots of trips to the gas station paid entirely in coins we’d managed to scrape together.

    It was actually quite good for learning the value of fuel – my parents didn’t put any fuel in it for me, so if I wanted it to move I had to come up with my own money. It taught me not to drive around aimlessly, and also encouraged me to try and get donations from my friends when I drove them places. Being that it sat 8 people, getting a few dollars together was usually plausible.

    Insurance-wise it was cheap since it was an inexpensive vehicle in the first place, and not considered “high risk”. The high fuel cost I would consider to be a feature rather than a detriment. It was also quite resistant to damage, in particular the little bumps and bangs that someone learning to park tends to get.

    I learned how to drive really well in that van – being able to see over traffic gave me a little extra heads up time if anything was happening, and learning to move around such a large vehicle in traffic and things taught me to be an even better driver than I probably would have been otherwise.

  60. My first car was a green Ford Pinto (lots of rust) When you stopped it shook ungodly (My sister use to duck down at the red lights so no one saw her in it…LOL) But it’s what I could afford at he time and it got me from point A to point B. Those were the good old days :)

  61. I was fortunate (but also earned it with straight A’s, sports, and working) with a toyota corolla only about 6 years old being my first car

  62. First car was a 1977 Toyota Corolla. This baby was two tone (Gray and Rust primer). Bought it for $500 and sold it a year later for $500. I wish that I had it today.

  63. My first car was a 1981 VW Rabbit. It was coincidentally a white rabbit. Every time you would start it the blown speakers would shoot out an ear deafening burst of static. It lasted 3 months and I totalled it (lucky I wasn’t killed). Hit on the front corner by an F150 with a plow hookup, spun hit with 3 inches of the gas tank and pushed down the road 200 ft into a telephone pole. He almost drove through some ladies house. Too scary! My kids are saving for their cars but at 10 & 8 I am already worried!

  64. I had an old Geo Prizm that, after a while, you had to roll down to window to open the passenger door if you didn’t know how to work the handle just right. Good times, good times.

  65. Technically my first car was a Ford 1979 LTD station wagon that belonged to my dad. When he passed away, mom gave it to my brother and I to drive. I traded it in when I was 17 for a brand new off the showroom floor for a 1986 Ford Tempo. Can you say caught up in the experience?
    My next new car less than 3 years later was a 1989 Chevy Camaro RS. To this day, that was my all-time favorite car. Then it went to new car after new car after new car until I realized that I’ve never actually owned a car out-right. Fastforward to 2010. Brand new Lexus RX300h and a Honda Odyssey Touring Edition cars in our driveway. When I wake with an Epiphany. We are never going to get out of debt if we keep buy and paying on cars. Finally convinced hubs and we sold the Lexus and the Honda and bought a 97 Nissan Sentra, 95 Accura Integra, 98 Jeep Grandcheroke, and a 01 Suzuki Motorcycle. Now myself and both daughters have paid for vehicles and hubby drives the motorcycle. And we have $1600 a month more in our pockets :)

  66. A 1989 white Chevy S10 in 1996. Five speed, great gas mileage little truck. I gave it to my Dad when I went to college in 98, he drove it for 8 more years, and then sold it to a friend, who still drives it today!

  67. This won’t reduce your budget but I would advise someone with teen drivers to buy an Umbrella insurance policy that protects your assets and future income.

  68. My first car was a 1990 Mercury Tracer in bright blue . It was old, with peeling paint, but clean and had air-conditioning. Daddy said I could get what I wanted when I started paying bills. Drove that thing throughout college and passed it down to the little sister. She wasn’t happy either, but it got us where we needed to go.

  69. My first car was a 1986 Chrysler Lazer Turbo. Fast and fun but it did not fare well as an off road vehicle!

  70. My first car was a little 1988 Toyota Tercel. My mom picked it up used in the mid-90′s, quite literally at a yard sale. That plucky little car got me through a lot! Of course my mom wanted me to drive their big SUV instead, but I prevailed in my insistence to learn on a manual transmission and got the little zoomy cluncker. Woo!

  71. I got a little Honda with a stick shift in 1994 – and I could fill up the tank for about $12. Those were the days.

  72. Toyota Camary. The power windows didn’t work and it smelled like a dead animal. Great first car!!

  73. My first car was a Mazda 626, one that I bought from my uncle with money from my first nursing job. It was a cute little car and I loved that it had automatic seatbelts.

  74. My first car was a second-time hand-me-down as in it was my mother’s car, then my sister’s, then mine. It was a white 1976 Pontiac Firebird with red interior! A v-8, too.

    By the time I got it it had some major rust, a big dent on the right toward the rear, and a hole in the floorboard! LOL Also, my dad had to have the engine rebuilt for me. He gave me a choice…either a new Yugo (blech!) or he would have the engine in the Firebird rebuilt, so I chose the latter.

  75. My first car was the first one my husband and I shared…an 86 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera…it only lasted 2 years…

  76. First car was a Chevy Nova.. with a Toyota engine. Great – long-lasting car with very few hiccups. Drove her til she clonked out.

  77. A sweet, red Toyota Corolla I named Morton, after a Swiss friend I was fond of. Also, just thought it was a cool name. Real story: my dad bought the car and I started, ehem, borrowing it right away. And so I took over the payments. Um, thanks? I think? Kept it for 8 years til I fell in love with a fast VW.

  78. I had an olderTaurus that my dad bought from the company he was working for at the time. They were phasing the car out of their inventory and it had faded paint but I remember how excited I was knowing lit was all mine! My Step Son just turned 16 last week and I’m dreading the car insurance going up when he passes his road test in 6 months!

  79. My first car was a 1989 Chevy Cavalier. Loved her; her name was Betsy. Drove her for 13 years. When I finally traded her in, they gave me $50 because the tires were okay. :-)

  80. My first car was a shiny red ’91 Pontiac Firebird. It was a beautiful car. After a few years, my brother inherited it, and soon totalled it driving over a one-foot-tall curb at 70 mph, pulling the drive shaft out of the engine, breaking both axels and bursting all four tires. My brother was fine of course, but he probably wouldn’t have been if he hadn’t been living 2 hours away from me at the time.

  81. First I had a white ford festiva named Lucy. I remember piling so many friends into that car so that when we got out it was like a circus car stuffed with clowns. Then someone hit it and totalled it and the only car I could find cheap without any problems was another festiva, though teal. I named her Helen and drove her until college. They were fun but so dorky!