Perry writes in:
I’m giving my son a used car for his college graduation present. What models and years would you recommend in a car that is big enough to carry a stringed bass (the musical instrument -not a fish!), is very safe, reliable, gets good gas mileage, costs $5k-$7k. Thank you for your suggestions!
My band (yes, I have a life outside cars) has its own cello player, and he lugs his stringed instrument out of the back seat of a late model Dodge Charger with ease. Unfortunately, the bass can be 25 inches longer than a cello. So that narrows your options down considerably. Because of the timing of it all, I’m letting my affinity for Mercury vehicles get the best of me. And since the 2005 Montego had a PR shot of this car’s interior holding a stringed instrument in its cabin, that’s my pick. It was a beautiful, if wholly irrelevant shot. Until now. The Montego (and sister ship Ford Five Hundred) is a good choice because of that tall gearing for highway efficiency, unflappable durability/safety record and somewhat surprising depreciation. (clean models go for $8k or less pretty regularly)
But for a bass player? There’s a huge trunk, with a fold down rear seat. And a fold down FRONT seat. Lay that bad boy in the trunk and guide the neck across the flattened passenger front seat: Bam! That was almost too easy.
When you’re getting a high priced item for someone young… taste is everything. What may appeal to the two of us can make a twenty-something flinch in all their generational glory. I vaguely recall my Dad offering me a 1986 Lincoln Continental, fake tire hump and vinyl stickers and all, back in the early 90’s. I decided the gramps car wasn’t for me. So…
We ended up shopping for a car together. Sorta. I would offer my Dad possibilities and he would end up saying yes or no. V8?: Hell no unless it was the geriatric Lincoln. But I could get something that was front wheel drive, a four cylinder, automatic and white (not too many constraints there, eh?) I neded up with a Celica that served me well.
If I were you I would let him do some window shopping and find that special something. Take it to a good independent shop. Get a Carfax/Autocheck history, and follow my Car Buying series I put up on TTAC a couple years ago. Do your homework. Be patient. I’m sure you both will find that perfect car for the times to come: and if you think its a little tough, take a look at my Hammer Time series (LINK: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/hammer-time/) to feel a little better about your situation.
Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to firstname.lastname@example.org, and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.