This week is a momentous occasion in both my own life and the life of my parents. On Wednesday, it was the 10th anniversary of passing my driving test. This was good for me, as it meant I was able to travel much further from home. And it was good for my parents as it meant I was able to travel much further from home.
I am well aware that the majority of my readers will have passed their driving test more than ten years ago and as such many will have children of their own. And I imagine if you are reading this, you would probably alos rather prefer that your pimpled offspring did not start driving a Citroen Saxo with crazy neons on the bonnet.
If youre honest, it is unlikely you are going to ever want to drive your 17 year olds first car but I have selected a few small cars that are practical as first cars and which wont be such an eyesore on your drive, when the much richer brother in law comes over for the weekend.
1978 Volkswagen Beetle 1303cc
Assuming you are not a total philistine you probably ensured your children watched the Herbie movies when they were growing up. Your offspring will probably attend Bug Jam if you buy them one of these, which will result in them trying numerous drugs - and Beetles also promote free love. So if you have issues with not wanting grandkids yet Id stay off buying the kids a Beetle. This car came out top on my Compare the Fat Fake-Italian Opera Chap test in insurability; with the best quote for a 17 year old male fully comp at £2183.83 (all insurance quotes done using the same criteria). For a first car stick to either the 1303 or 1200 as it helps with insurance and will hopefully prevent your offspring from bending it round a lamp post.
1978 Citroen 2 CV 602cc
I find these difficult to love but I saw a very attractive young lady driving one the other day and decided it should be included. Girls do seem to like them so if you have daughters this could be the way to go. The fact that a car designed in 1948 can be and is still driven on the roads today is a testament to the engineering genius behind it. At £2766.66 for insurance it came out second cheapest although for something with this engine size youd probably hope it to be lower. Assuming your child wont ever need to travel uphill and theyre female this is a good option. It has a post modern chic look about it. A 2CV is a must for all history of art students.
1978 Austin Mini 998cc
I learnt to drive in a Mini and havent looked back since. Top Gear said only last week anyone who had never driven a classic Mini had never lived. And if Top Gear says it, it must be true. At £2975.97 it was the most expensive to insure and a 1978 model will, if standard be running on drums. Upgrade the drums if you ever expect your child not to drive into your garage wall. Practical in the extreme, although as 60s icon (I know they were designed in the 50s before I get 20 e-mails) free love is part of the package again. Not that I ever got that lucky.
1978 Renault 5 845cc
The chav car of yesteryear. 10 years ago these were seen far more frequently on the roads and would have a sound system that could encompass the entire rear of the car. A bargain to buy and if you have a son who cant speak in full sentences this is the car to get him. In likelihood the sound system will come installed already ready for some late night cruising around Tesco car parks. Obviously dont get him the Turbo as he will almost certainly kill himself. Today you rarely see them and I can see these really getting back into fashion. It is a cult car in its own way and they are also surprisingly practical. Insurance was £2854.60 so again came out as similar to the 2CV and the Mini.
Obviously I would be being more irresponsible than usual if I didnt point out the blatantly obvious fact that these cars will crumple to the size of a pea in a serious collision. Against most modern vehicles they wont stand a chance but then almost all classic vehicles are in the same boat. But with these vehicles your child will have a better understanding of how cars work. They wont be able to not check the oil or water levels for fear of getting stranded and theyll probably want to modify the car at some point down the line which will lead to further practical skills. Additionally, as these cars could at best be described as asthmatic, hopefully your kids wont be able to try any hair raising stunts ending with a trip to the John Radcliffe hospital.
Financially as long as you get a decent model it wont be too costly either. These insurance figures are some of the lowest for any car and I put in the value of all vehicles at £2500. For a 2002 Smart Car with a 17 year old male driver and worth the same amount, insurance came out at £4868.27. Over double what the Beetle would be. The Beetle is actually cheaper to insure than a 1 litre Corsa which I was also fairly surprised about. Fuel costs will be more than reasonable on all these cars and road tax is never more than £125 per year for any of them.
Thats it from me this week and next week I intend to return with a look at something a little classier. After last weeks experiment Ive decided communism isnt for me.