By on January 28, 2013

 

I recently read an article that said a growing number of young Americans would rather have a smartphone than a car.  Half of American teenagers prefer web access to car access, said the article, and communicating via text, e-mail or social media is taking the place of actually driving somewhere to spend time with someone.  You know – in person.

This is, of course, because times are changing.  Years ago, turning 16 meant inheriting a dead relative’s full-size sedan with V8 power, rear-wheel drive, and no traction control.  Gas was eleven cents a gallon.  It was practically an invitation to hoon.  But today, turning 16 means spending thousands just to get saddled with a four-cylinder economy car that has annoying features like airbags and disc brakes.  No wonder teens don’t want cars: their smartphones are probably faster.  And less expensive.

Or are they?

American teens, listen up: the average Verizon iPhone 5 costs $199 plus $100 per month for two years – a grand total of $2,600.  But a recent visit to Craigslist turns up far better ways to spend that cash.  Drum roll please…=

1985 BMW 635CSi: $2700 – Los Angeles Craigslist

 This ’85 6 Series is the perfect car for any teenager who wants stylish transportation and lives near a BMW mechanic.  Sure, the ad doesn’t list the car’s mileage, and it doesn’t include any interior photos.  But who needs that crap when you have 850i wheels?  Best of all, the ad insists the car has a factory spoiler even though it clearly doesn’t – one of the bargaining points that will help get its final price under our magic threshold.  That, and the fact that it likely passed smog as a 2004 Honda.

 

1967 Cadillac DeVille: $2000 – Philadelphia Craigslist

Only good things happen to people with big Cadillacs.  Just ask Elvis.  Or Tiger Woods.  Powered by a 7-liter V8, this Caddy is also listed without interior photos or announced mileage.  But I wouldn’t worry about that too much.  After all, nothing says “trustworthy seller” like taking pictures in a forest and a ’94 Mustang without plates in the background.  It falls $600 below the budget, which allows teenagers a little extra spending money for fuel.  They’ll need it.

1985 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham Hearse: $950 – Maine Craigslist

There are precisely two things on Maine cars and trucks Craigslist: Subarus and this.  Of course, I prefer “this,” a 1985 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham converted to a pickup truck-style hearse.  It comes in well under our budget because the dealer – which establishes credibility with an all-caps listing that boasts the “BEST PRICES ON USED TIRES” – says the car “NEEDS TOTAL RESTORATION.”  Better idea: get it running, then convert the hearse bit to a hot tub.  Morbid, yes, but grandma won’t mind.  If she were alive, she’d join in.

 

1989 Buick Reatta: $2000 – Denver Craigslist

The seller of this 1989 Reatta satisfies the only rule for posting on Denver Craigslist, which is that all items must be pictured in front of a Subaru Outback.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t list many details except for “no accidents,” perhaps forgetting about the one at General Motors that must’ve caused the Reatta to exist in the first place.  Nonetheless, I suggest the Reatta to all young men, since it will attract tons of women, including cougars and the blind.

 

1995 Mercedes S500: $2200 – Chicago Craigslist

Straight from the Saddam Hussein collection is this 1995 S500, which is on Chicago Craigslist for just $2,200.  It’s done 220,000 miles, but the owner describes it as “very reliable,” which is another way of saying he’s never done any maintenance, so you’ll have to.  With an original sticker price over $70,000, this one will surely impress the ladies, though I must remind teens that the classiest dames are only wooed by stick-on fender portholes.  Unfortunately, it needs tires.  May I suggest Maine Craigslist?

 

1985 Volkswagen Scirocco: $2300 – Atlanta Craigslist

I’ve always felt the car culture in my hometown of Atlanta is a mixture of Pyongyang (where all the cars are Chinese) and Venice (where all the cars are boats), but with more Escalades.  But now I must eat my words, as I recommend this 1985 VW Scirocco on Atlanta Craigslist that’s described by the seller as “the nicest scirocco you will find around.”  He later says it has no heat or air conditioning, though Scirocco fans will agree this still keeps it in contention for the aforementioned title.  An iPhone – which also has no heat or air conditioning – pales in comparison.

 

1995 Ford Mustang with Lamborghini Doors: $2500 – Miami Craigslist

Is it any surprise this turned up on Miami Craigslist?  Bright yellow, aftermarket exhaust, Lamborghini doors.  It’s also parked on grass, which – judging by other ads on Miami Craigslist – may be the only place you’re allowed to park in South Florida.  It also has no title. But that’s no problem, since it’s not like you’ll attract any police attention in a bright yellow car with scissor doors, a loud exhaust and chrome wheels.  No matter: it’s still better than social media.  And that’s what you’ll tell the cops.

 

1985 Toyota Land Cruiser: $2300 – Anchorage Craigslist

What’s 241,000 miles?  A trip to the moon.  But also “just broken in” if you’re in the market for a Land Cruiser.  Despite that, this seller on Anchorage Craigslist is willing to let this FJ60 go for just $2,300, or around one-tenth of what TLC would charge for the same truck in LA.  And there’s more good news: The FJ60 came with fender vents, so you don’t need to spring for stick-ons.  Bring on the classy ladies.

 

So, teenagers, what’s the best way to spend that $2,600?  An iPhone, or one of the delightful cars listed above?  Of course, we’re always open to other suggestions from our readers.  Even if they have iPhones.

 

Doug DeMuro operates PlaysWithCars.com. He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, roadtripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute laptime on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta.  One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer.  His parents are very disappointed.

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115 Comments on “The $2600 Question: Smartphone or Car?...”


  • avatar
    Flybrian

    I’m 28. Spent $160 on my Samsung something-or-other and $52/mo with MetroPCS for unlimited everything service. Six years ago, I spent $400 on a ’76 LeSabre, $400 driving it down from PA, and probably $900 over the years making it mechanically right and daily-drivable @ 15-17MPG.

    Keep your iPhone. I’ll enjoy my Buick.

    • 0 avatar

      +1

    • 0 avatar
      cheapthrills

      I’ve been paying my $15/month share of my family’s shared plan for the past 5 years with the same basic phone. I like to tell people that the money I save there funds my track car, but it really only covers about 20% of that hobby.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      As someone who bought a ’76 Charger in the early 2000s before his first cell phone, I approve of this comment.

    • 0 avatar
      Windy

      The 1985 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham Hearse: $950 – Maine Craigslist

      This is what was known in the day as a “Flower Car” in most cases only large city undertakers would have had these. There is photo of a mob funeral back in the 30s with about 5 or 6 flower cars stuffed with the floral tributes from other mobsters. As I recall they had to bring in extra flower cars from other undertakers as even the largest big city firms would be unlikely to have more than 2 of them…. I am a bit surprised to see one in Maine from as late as 1985 they would not even come out of the garage for most funeral processions as those big floral tribute things in the shape of giant horse shoe arrangements had gone out stile by then for most folks

      about 1979 or so I recall seeing a 1948 Fleetwood flower car at an auction, it looked new and had less than 10,000 miles on it…. the only strike against it was the condition of the dry rotted tires and window rubbers and I assume other rubber items
      Cheers
      Windy

    • 0 avatar

      Both of them equal some level of DEBT. Most kids can’t get jobs good enough to afford cars because the used car market is all tied up due to people not being able to get loans for new cars.

      Many of these kids would rather simply run their mouth on a damn phone – or facebook their friends than drive.

      I’m fine by that. KEEP EM OFF MY STREETS so I don’t have to worry about texters hitting me.

  • avatar
    ringomon

    Can I be the first wet blanket comment?

    You should probably factor in monthly gas and maintenance costs of the car, since we’re factoring in the usage costs of the phone.

    Of course that wouldn’t be as fun of an article…
    Buy a beater and drive it nowhere for the same price as a top of the line 2 year unlimited everything phone plan!

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I think the only reliable object (whether it be factory reliable, or just not-screwed-with reliable) in this list has to go to the Land Cruiser.

    The rest of those would be a disaster on the wallet, and a terrible idea for a teen.

    -Cut to me, buying my first car in 2002, a 1987 Audi 5000S.-

    • 0 avatar
      cheapthrills

      Learning how much work and money it takes to keep a beater running is an extremely important lesson for teenagers. It slaps them in the face with the harsh reality of life.

      -Bought a 1982 Audi Coupe as my first car in 2002. It took a year to get it on the road. Died of unknown electrical issues in 2004.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      The Reatta wouldn’t be bad. I keep my dad’s pristine ’91 convertible going on the cheap because it’s mostly off the shelf GM stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      Wabbit3

      Yikes…at one point I REALLY needed wheels in college and bought an 85 or so Audi Coupe GT for 1200. I didn’t take enough warning from the board behind the seat to keep it from sliding back, and promptly had the front right wheel fall off.

  • avatar
    mikedt

    You forget about mandatory car insurance which in most cases will exceed the original cost of any of the cars you listed plus the annual cost of a cell phone plan. Add in the number of parents that say, “sure you can get your license as soon as you chip in for your insurance premium” and it’s no wonder a lot of people still living with Mom and Dad will pass on a car.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    Get the beater. Teenagers have plenty of time to figure out how to keep it running. Besides, these days there’s an app for that…oh wait. Nevermind.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      The app is YouTube. There are lots of helpful videos showing how to do maintenance and repair for specific vehicles.

      I’m pretty handy, but these videos saved me a surprising amount of time figuring out a few minor quirks of the Sienna I just bought. Any time I needed a hint, just search YouTube from where I wad standing. and I had an answer in seconds.

      Owning a car is way easier with a smartphone.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I like your idea in concept that driving a car can be as cheap as an expensive cellphone. But your argument’s legs will only walk so far. I’m a parent of a 17 year old. I can tell you that I won’t let my daughter ride in a 25 year old car, much less drive one or own one. Secondly, you don’t mention the cost of insurance, which will be at least $100/month for most teens.

    In addition to the cost of a car (which has always been a challenge to teens, there are other factors suppressing tene driving. Many states now have a “graduated” license system that that won’t allow a teen to get a license at the traditional age of 16. In Indiana, you can’t get your basic “probationary” license until you are 16 years 180 days, and that’s if you take drivers ed. If you don’t take drivers’ ed, it’s 6 years 270 days. For 180 days after you get your license you aren’t allowed to drive with any passengers who aren’t your immediate family members. This means that you can’t “car date” or drive with friends until you are at least 17. If you are college-bound, like my daughter, you can’t have a car on campus your freshman year. The net sum of this is that a typical teen will only get full use of his/her drivers license for about a year. It doesn’t make sense to get invested in a car that you can only drive for a year.

    The cost of college has doubled in real terms since I was in high school. The wages paid to teenagers have decreased (adjusted for inflation). This means that for many teenagers, it makes financial sense to spend your efforts working on AP classes rather than working to save money for college and to pay for the car to get you to work.

    All of these factors have led to a change in culture that marginalizes the automobile. Social media has filled in the gap. I don’t see the car culture coming back any time soon.

    • 0 avatar
      ott

      “I don’t see the car culture coming back any time soon.”

      Personally, I don’t think it ever left, it has merely evolved.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      The laws have changed greatly on this in many states, as Conslaw said. In some states, you can’t drive at night for the first 6 months of your permit and/or license. In many states, you can’t drive with anyone else under the age of 18 if you’re under 18, except for immediate family members (i.e. your younger brothers and sisters). Things like that make it less fun to have a car if you’re a 16-17 year old, and then you go to college where you may not need one right away.

      A lot of boomer’s kids weren’t really buying cars so much as either (a) borrowing mom or dad’s car, or (b) getting hand-me-downs where they may have chipped in for the expenses. And I agree that the focus on academics for higher-achieving teens likely trumps getting a low wage job for many (although I managed to do both somehow…). Still, I suspect working down at the drugstore soda fountain to buy yourself a cheap V8-powered hooner is probably an outdated view anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      abc1234

      > working on AP classes rather than working to save money for college and to pay for the car to get you to work.

      Couldn’t be more true. As a kid, I was happy with my part-time gigs and solid 3.0 GPA for college, but my kids are working on their classes because a good SAT/GPA can get you more in tuition discounts than 5 years of working at kid wages.

      Also, you’d be surprised that many families don’t enough tools to unwrap a present much less do basic car maintenance and repair. I’m not talking about wind-back tools for brakes, pitman pullers or hose clamp removers — the basics like wrenches/sockets/pliers.

  • avatar
    cargogh

    While I’m nearly 50, I can tell you kids which is more useful and important to me. My iphone5 and 1990 well-beaten Toyota p’up have about the same dollar value. While I can not keep the truck licensed, insured, maintained, and filled up for the same monthly bill as the phone, it is the one I would chose.
    On the other hand, I know several friends with sons (I can’t think of any daughters) that have not gotten their permits when they hit legal age. It is bizarre to me, but they have waited until 18+ to start driving. They stated it wasn’t necessary and all seem to be excellent drivers now.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      This indicates to me that fewer and fewer teens are required to work now, as I had to.

      My parent’s response to me being driving age was, “You want a car? Work and pay for it. We’ll take you to work til you can afford a car. You want insurance? You can pay for that too.”

      • 0 avatar
        Conslaw

        I had to work also, but the economics aren’t the same now. My daughter will graduate from high school with enough advanced placement credits to go to college as a second semester sophomore. That college credit is worth more than $30,000. There’s no way she could have saved that money working a minimum wage job. She could not have carried that heavy a courseload if she were working a 20 hour/week high school job.

      • 0 avatar
        TW4

        Unfortunately, previous generations raised employment taxes, healthcare costs, and real estate prices with an entitlements orgy, a mortgage lending binge, and an obsession with shipping 5% of US GDP to foreign countries. Naturally, jobs disappeared as did lower-middle class mobility.

        The new American dream is borrowing against your future earnings potential. Endangering your mental health to earn an MBA or doctorate. Hoping that old people die suddenly in an epidemic before they can collect Social Security or Medicare.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      @cargo: I’m in my 30s and I live in town. If I had to choose between the car and my smartphone, smartphone winds hands down.

      Its cheaper and better than then car at supporting my social life. It let’s me optimize my trips by planning better. AND, I can use it to work while riding the bus. There’s really no contest.

      Cars are better at transporting children, moving heavy objects, and making up for poor planning than a smartphone. They’re clearly different tools for different jobs. I feel fortunate that I can afford both. But, if I had to choose, smartphone wins.

      P.S. Another factor is that, with Facebook in your pocket, you don’t need a car to find out if your friends are doing something fun. If you can’t go, you can kinda tag along and miss out less.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “P.S. Another factor is that, with Facebook in your pocket, you don’t need a car to find out if your friends are doing something fun. If you can’t go, you can kinda tag along and miss out less.”

        I know just how you feel. I couldn’t make it to a soaring event but after seeing Facebook updates it was like I was in the airplane flying the ridge.

        Same thing for a scuba trip. Couldn’t make it but after seeing the pics on Facebook it was as if I was swimming alongside a whale shark.

        Even though I like to travel I figure I don’t need to anymore. After all, I can live vicariously through my Facebook friends and if they have the temerity to not visit someplace I want to go, well there’s always Google Maps.

        But here’s the coup de grace. My lady sent me pictures of her in the shower with the caption “wish you we’re here…we could get wet together”. Apparently, she doesn’t know that the pictures are more than enough. Upon seeing them, I was transported to the shower. My hands we’re able to touch, and grasp, and grope while I was miles away.

        Facebook FTW!!

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    That Land Cruiser is a steal. That’s the kind of car that you can buy for $2300, do what you have to do with it for 5-10 years, and unload it for $2300.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    The main reason kids are not interested in driving these days is that the spoiled little dumplings are carted around everywhere they might wish to go by thier parents. God forbid they might walk anywhere, the big bad boogie man might abduct them. It absolutely astounds me the levels of overprotection I see in the world, including the guy above who “won’t let his 16yo ride in a 25yo car”. How did we all survive childhood???

    When I was 16 it was walk, ride my bicycle, or stay home until I saved up for the insurance. I walking and bicycling is all sorts of fun in a Maine winter. I admit, I was somewhat spoiled in that my folks gave me thier old Subaru.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      My first car was 12 years old when I received it. So yes I was given a car but it sure was nothing to write home about. Nobody stayed awake nights worrying about if the car was “safe enough” for me. My father’s most stringent driving advice; “If all else fails and you have to hit something, hit something cheap.”

    • 0 avatar
      fatalexception04

      Couldn’t agree more. A good portion of kids these days are too pampered in a lot of ways, and they expect things to be given to them. But in other ways its just more of the “me now” generation. People expect instant gratification for doing anything, big or small, and expect nothing but the finest right away.

      Before 16 I was walking or biking it. Once I turned 16 in 96 I had saved the 800 bucks needed for a 66 mustang that I had wanted. A few holes in the floor, no power anything (steering, brakes) but a tons of fun to drive and I wound up learning a lot about maintaining and repairing a car.

    • 0 avatar
      Conslaw

      I bet your old Subaru wasn’t 25 years old. I graduated from high school in 1979. A 25 year old car then would have been a 1954 model. I don’t think my parents would have let me drive around in a 1954 car (not even lap belts) when I was in high school. It is reasonably likely that my kid will be in a car crash. It’s not unreasonable therefore to insist on airbags, antilock brakes and crumple zones. Fifteen year old cars have those things and aren’t that much more expensive.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Geez, I guess taking my kids for rides in my ’63 T-bird must be some sort of child abuse. Shh don’t call child services on me!

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        No, it was 5 years old. Which would make it 31 today. I had no qualms driving it then, nor would I have any qualms allowing a child of mine to drive it now. Plenty safe enough. And with all of 80hp to put to the task, you would have to try especially hard in an ’82 Subaru. Not that I didn’t hoon the ever-loving-Bejebus out of the poor thing!

        As to the general safety of ’82 Subarus, about the worst accident to happen during my High School years was a friend with another ’82 Subie managed to go off the side of the highway at 70+mph, hit a berm, and went end over end about 10 times. Walked away with cuts and bruises. Admittedly about the best way to have a high speed crash, but the Subaru held up admirably. Another friend put an ’80 Rabbit into a tree at high speed and walked away. In college, I had a woman in a K-car pull out of a side road directly in front of me while I was working as a bank courier. I broadsided her at 65mph in a ’90 Ford Escort – the only casualty was my glasses, which flew off my face and out the window. Shortened the Escort substantially. Cars were not as safe as they are now, certainly, but they were not instant deathmobiles either. IMHO, we are long past the point of gilding the lily with passive safety.

        The reality is that assuming you are wearing your seatbelt, you actually have to work pretty hard to kill yourself in a car. If you are wearing a seat belt and die, the crash was probably not survivable no matter what you were in.

        I don’t think things have changed NEARLY as much as the pundits would have you think. Kids in urban areas with adequate public transportation didn’t get cars then, nor do they now. Kids in really rural areas got cars earlier – my cousins in Nebraska had school permits and ancient rusty Beetles when they were ~12-13. I lived in a suburban area and got my license and first car at 17, which was fairly late – most of my peers got them at 16. Now the laws have changed and you will probably have to be 17. There is not even a pretense of public transportation where I grew up then or now. Also being a wealthier area, kids were generally given cars, they did not buy them themselves. That has not changed either.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I tend to agree with khrodes. As someone who’s been in a few collisions on the road, and quite a few on the racetrack/off road, for many passive safety features to make a difference, the accident has to be pretty serious. Accidents that serious are rare.

        I know, I know, even a chance of this occuring is enough to warrant every safety precaution, but this hasn’t stopped me and my kids from enjoying old cars.

        This is where you call me foolish, and I call you a nanny, and we’ll just leave it at that.

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      I swear I’ve seen this silly “man on the street” “survey” on every car blog or newspaper automotive section for a good year. No, it has nothing to do with loss of interest in cars.

      “It’s the economy, stupid!” By that I mean good luck getting a job, anyone with less than a PhD. High insurance, too, and used car prices are still ridiculous.

      Also, if states push the requirements, age-wise and otherwise, up, of course fewer teens CAN get licenses…it’s nothing to do with wanting or not wanting to.

      The difference between a phone and a car is that with a phone, you are paying for the service and whatever other fees are in your contract. The only car comparable is a leased one.

      Buying and KEEPING a $2,600 car costs a lot more, since any $2,600 car these days (once again, prices too high for what you get) will require $$ for gas and repairs. Especially for the BMW and Merc.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    $2600 for the car, $4000 for a year’s insurance.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      + gas + battery + tires + oil + getting said vehicle to pass emissions. All of sudden the smartphone is starting to look like a real bargain. In addition the phone allows hours of sexting with that cute girl from history class without ever meeting her father face-to-face. Maybe these kids are onto something here.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    No Mercedes or BMW for my kid, not unless I own an auto parts warehouse franchise. Personally I’m really feeling the DeVille and the Reatta.

    “Years ago, turning 16 meant inheriting a dead relative’s full-size sedan with V8 power, rear-wheel drive, and no traction control. Gas was eleven cents a gallon. It was practically an invitation to hoon.”

    Gas was $1.00 a gallon when I turned 16 I’ll have you know and the relative in question wasn’t dead yet, he had just moved on to 3800V6 FWD from the RWD Olds 307 powered beast he had (and passed eventually to me.)

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Would the DeVille be good for a kid that age though? It’s what, 22 feet long? The Reatta, I have always heard, was never reliable and had electrical gremlins. I think it’d be just as bad as the BMW.

      • 0 avatar
        SimRacingDan

        ’79 coup deville was my first car. It worked out fine! Of course I wasn’t allowed to drive it in the snow because … well… It couldn’t drive in the snow. Even a dusting and all it’d do was fishtail.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        That Deville looks too good for a kid, I would lean toward Reatta or the Land Cruiser for the kid’s ride.

    • 0 avatar
      glwillia

      If I had kids, I wouldn’t be opposed to getting them a Mercedes or Volvo. An ’82 300D or 240DL would be an *excellent* first car.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    I find the premise of this article rather silly, but all is forgiven for finding that El Cafleetwood. And if I had unlimited garage space, I’d take a hard look at that ’67 DeVille.

  • avatar
    Nate

    That VW is listed from my home town. I swear I’ve seen it driving around the Piggly Wiggly. I’d buy that FJ60 in a heart beat, by the way. Unless the floor’s rusted out, then I’d haggle a bit. Oh, since my tiny town in North Georgia has been mentioned on the intertoobs, using the transitive property, does that make me famous?

  • avatar
    Marko

    I swear I’ve seen this silly “man on the street” “survey” on every car blog or newspaper automotive section for a good year. No, it has nothing to do with loss of interest in cars.

    “It’s the economy, stupid!” By that I mean good luck getting a job, anyone with less than a PhD. High insurance, too, and used car prices are still ridiculous.

    Also, if states push the requirements, age-wise and otherwise, up, of course fewer teens CAN get licenses…it’s nothing to do with wanting or not wanting to.

    The difference between a phone and a car is that with a phone, you are paying only for the service and whatever other fees are in your contract. The only car comparable is a leased one.

    Buying and KEEPING a $2,600 car costs a lot more, since any $2,600 car these days (once again, prices too high for what you get) will require $$ for gas and repairs. Especially for the BMW and Merc.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    16 and buying your own car is a classic american myth. It existed at one point but was dead by the postwar era as a true class movement. More likely was the family’s older 2nd car was shared between mom and the kids. Overall $2600 is a little over 1/2 a year of part-time minimum wage. It just doesn’t make fiduciary sense to buy a beater like this. I only bought my first car at 24 and I’m close to paying it off now.

    There is an interesting argument about social disconnect to be had but 1989 Reatta no matter how cool it is just can’t solve that.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Depends where you live and who your friends are. In the small town I grew up in, the vast majority of people my age had their own car before the age of 18, most of them financed by themselves. It was our freedom.

      Perhaps social networking on mobilde devices has replaced “cruising” to some degree, but if teens lving in smaller towns want jobs or to go to college, more often than not they’ll have to drive to them.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “Perhaps social networking on mobile devices has replaced “cruising” to some degree…”

        Perhaps, but to some its wasn’t just the social aspect that made it enjoyable. It was being out on the road. It was wanderlust, even if you didn’t go very far.

        A phone can’t replace a car and a car can’t replace a phone.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        This actually came to mind when I was writing this. I study these situations for a living and in rural towns you’re right. But there seems to be a surplus of farm trucks and vehicles along with a general ingenuity to keep them running. Rural living is a slim section of the US now though. I doubt good cell reception in most areas where kids would be buying these vehicles.

        Also to put it in perspective I drove at 16 and shared the 2nd car till I was 24. I’m no later driver which seems to be a trend as well.

  • avatar
    MR2turbo4evr

    Excellent article, Doug. I like the sense of humor. Looking forward to reading more acticles from you. Keep it up!

  • avatar
    gator marco

    Marko,
    You hit the nail right on the head. My 18 year old son costs more to insure as a 2nd driver on a boring 7 year old domestic sedan, than monthly payments for the car. I pretend to be the primary driver, but all I do is drive the car on Saturdays or if it needs gas.

    When he was 16, it took 2 trips, and several hours, to grind through the paperwork and driving test necessary to get him a license. The new “security” paperwork drill required for a license is needlessly burdensome. It is not unusual at all for new residents to Florida to take an entire day to just get licensed.

    He is in high school, and he works about 15 hours a week in a part time minimum wage job, and is lucky to have such a job. Take home is under $100 per week. Just lunchtime at school, the occasional afternoon convenience store snacks and maybe Saturday movie night sucks up almost all of his cash.

    I could not imagine burdening a teenager with the insurance payments or maintenance needed to keep a 20 year old sporty car on the road.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Best answer: old Ninja 250 and riding gear.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    How is an iPhone going to get you a job or get your lazy ass to work? I’ll take a car any day over a stupid phone. The phone can always come later when I’m you know, actually making a living!

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Pretty easily, since my smartphone provides a mobile Internet connection and my employer provides a laptop.

      This is white-collar knowledge-work, rather than an entry-level teenager job… But I felt the need to chime in because someone needs to point out that an iPhone CAN get some people to work.

      Also, I live 2 miles from my office. I can walk or take the bus – and my phone makes all of that work better.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        As an addendum… not all teens need to work a “typical” teen job. A smartphone and internet connection combined with some skill can bring in significantly more money than flipping burgers or stocking shelves.

        As an added bonus, they gain valuable experience interacting with clients, setting budgets and deadlines, and get a glimpse into the business world.

        If you’re willing to embrace it, technology allows you to reach people around the world almost as easily as those on your own block.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    When was gas ever 11 cents per gallon?

    I, too lust after that ’67 DeVille. It probably costs a lot less to run (and is only slightly older) than the Piper PA-28-160 that I’m renting these days (10-11 gph at over $6/gal for 100LL). It’s probably just as fast too. Flying, by way of comparison, makes my iPhone look almost cost-free.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      Well, I guess that the $50 hamburger really is a thing of the past then. That was what the waitress at the Airport Diner told us last Thursday….

      • 0 avatar
        nikita

        Inflation caught up with that. Ive called it a $100 hamburger for quite a few years.

        General aviation is dying faster than automobiles as far as today’s youth are concerned. Unless you intend on being an airline pilot, and I think you are crazy if you do today, no young people are taking flying lessons.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “…no young people are taking flying lessons.”

        You talk as if general aviation has been on most kids’ radars for the last twenty years and suddenly its not. I don’t think its ever been wildly popular but I know kids who are interested and some who are taking lessons.

        If you live close to a Young Eagles go to the next event and see how many kids are there.

        In my experience, the fascination of flight isn’t the problem. It’s access. How man kids know someone who flies?

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @hubcap:

        It’s worse than that. I’m a private pilot (ASEL/ASES, some retract time, passed IFR written, and a.few glider hours), and I can’t get access to an airplane. The cost and post-9/11 fear make it really difficult to get into a rental.

        I’m hoping to finish my glider rating in the summer, but its been four years since I could get in a cockpit, and it wasn’t because of lack of interest on my part.

        If you’re a kid who wants to learn to fly, you’ve gotta come up with $7k and get used to being treated with suspicion…. Its a damn shame, too, since flying is one of the most exciting things that you can do solo.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        @Luke42

        I totally agree with you about the money aspect. Flight training isn’t cheap but there are ways to mitigate the cost depending on where your located.

        I live in Florida. Airplanes are everywhere. I go understand though that other regions aren’t as airplane rich and that’s definitely a problem.

        One thing I don’t understand is people looking upon those who want to learn to fly with suspicion. I don’t know where you live but I don’t think that’s the norm.

        Lastly you’re so right when you say that ‘flying solo is one of the most exciting things you can do’. And you know what it gets better when you get away from the Camcords of the aviation world, Cessna 152/172, Piper Warriors and their ilk, and start flying more interesting machines.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    I hate to say it, but the Smartphone is the real “Freedom” these days for kids. An automobile, unless given to them expenses paid, is more of a burden and responsibility these days. You’ll have to get a job to keep it going, and you’ll be a part of the “system”.

    Parents that don’t make their kids pay their phone bill probably has a lot to do with it.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      “Parents that don’t make their kids pay their phone bill probably has a lot to do with it.”

      Oooh that’s a Bingo!

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “I hate to say it, but the Smartphone is the real “Freedom” these days for kids.”

      The freedom to do what…talk? Why is a smartphone the real “Freedom”?

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        But…but…they don’t talk, they text. I rarely see young people talking on the “Smart” phones. I could maybe understand the social aspect of smart phones if they did talk, but I fail to see texting as a personal interaction. Emailing….same thing.

        BTW, various girlfriends and I fogged the windows of many an old beater back in the day………….can you fog a smart phone even if sexting?

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I think lots of people forget the fact that the smartphone and internet has taken over a lot of the role that the car used to have in the past. When I (and people older then 30-35)grew up cars were important to have a social life, to get girls, and to get to places (like work or school) Today all that stuff happens online insetad. Show me a car that you can go to war in with 30 of your friends(and back, safely, in one piece), or that lets you talk to people who also like cars on the other side of the planet…
    I still prefer cars, but I’m not surprised if my kids can’t be bothered to ‘waste’ their money on something that only gets you a few hundred miles down the road each day…

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      Maybe its just me, but unless a phone has a built in transporter it can’t get you to the movies, the beach, out to dinner, on a date or to a myriad of other places.

      Granted, if you live in a city such as NY, San Fran, Chicago etc. you might not need a car. Absent that, I don’t see how a smartphone can bridge the gap.

      As for…

      “Show me a car that you can go to war in with 30 of your friends(and back, safely, in one piece)…”

      I really don’t know how to answer that. But show me a smartphone, video game system, or computer that can take you and three friends to the Keys to dive on the Grove. Or to the mountains to go skiing.

  • avatar
    genomad

    The importance of driving to a 16 year old depends on where they live. There are big cultural differences between teens living in small towns vs big cities vs suburbia.

    In a small town you bet, they are excited to drive. The parents are less overprotective and there appears to be more employment opportunity for teens. My rural teenage cousins have the same desire/need for wheels that I did at their age, and any junker will do.

    In suburbia, it seems to depend on how the kid feels about their transportation arrangement rather than excitement or necessity. In the suburbs a kid is unlikely to have ever transported themselves independently so they have little understanding of the value it provides or appreciate what a burden it is for the parents to drive them everywhere. I am constantly shocked by the absence of kids biking for transportation in the suburbs. The culture is a lot more paranoid about safety than in small towns. And the kids lives are scheduled-scripted that there is little opportunity to enjoy any transportation related freedom anyway.

    I don’t know any kids ages 14-18 living in the city, So I can’t comment without making stuff up. But I’m willing to guess it depends much more on the available public transit and the socioeconomic conditions of the neighborhood than it would in either the burbs or small town.

    The difference between a car and a smartphone for teenagers is that every teen wants a smartphone. But not every teen sees the need for a car.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      The suburbs sometimes have really lousy bikeability/walkability. The neighborhood where my wife grew up, for instance, does not have sidewalks and the sight-lines are really poor. Also, the BMW/Mercedes driving natives really floor it and don’t expect to see pedestrians – I went jogging one morning and, despite being able to mix it up with traffic elsewhere, I ended up diving for the bushes twice. There’s no any my kid would be out walking or biking in an environment like that.

      It LOOKS like a nice suburban neighborhood full of expensive houses at first glance. But a neighborhood where you can’t walk a quarter of a mile without diving for the ditch isn’t suitable for children!

  • avatar
    Arrgh

    This is falsest false dichotomy I’ve seen in quite some time. People in modern industrialized societies *need* **both** transportation and communications, and they’ll move the knobs of where the money goes according to preference and circumstance.

    As it happens I’m a serious smartphone nerd, and a fair-to-middling car nerd, and here are my numbers:

    In my family we have one car and two smartphones. The car: an 8-year-old Mazda6 wagon. I paid $16k tax-in three years ago, and so far it has needed zero major repair (knock knock) and just the typical consumables (one brake job, one set of tires). Fuel economy is terrible, but I expect that with a V6-powered, 3400lb car driven almost exclusively in the city.

    I paid $275 outright for my phone, and my plan is $50/month plus tax including unlimited voice/text, voicemail and 1GB of data. We also bought my wife’s iPhone unlocked for around $700, same plan.

    Luckily, we live in Vancouver, where the transit system is halfway decent, and I can bike to work in half an hour. We *could* live in the suburbs, and save a bit on rent, but I want to hold off on becoming a two-car family as long as I can.

  • avatar
    wsn

    “But today, turning 16 means spending thousands just to get saddled with a four-cylinder economy car that has annoying features like airbags and disc brakes.”

    It really depends on how old you are. Are you 70 or something?

    I am not young myself. I was a teenager more than 20 years ago and I clearly remembered that car prices didn’t go up at all for all these years. I still remember that a friend’s dad bought a 180hp Camry V6 for $34k in 1993.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “I still remember that a friend’s dad bought a 180hp Camry V6 for $34k in 1993.”

      Yeah, my parents bought a $27-28K MSRP relatively loaded Ford for $23-24K or so in 1995. One of the only new cars they ever bought, incidentally. They still have it, and it has low mileage for how old it is, although I can’t say it has the original Essex, and I’m pretty sure it blew a head gasket on the first one, as those are wont to do.

      Of course, considering what SUVs cost then, I’m not surprised that many can sticker $40K easily these days.

  • avatar
    Dukeboy01

    Combine the ’85 Caddy Fleetwood flower car with the powertrain in the Olds from this morning’s earlier Piston Slap and you’d really be on to something.

    - Dave

  • avatar
    Arrgh

    Oh, and there’s not a chance in hell that my kids will ever drive a car *without* airbags, disc brakes and ABS, or whatever the equivalent safety features are in 10+ years. :)

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      My 3 year old isn’t allowed to even ride in a car without these features.

      I am allowed to joyride in such cars, and I want to teach my son to drive one in 2026, under very carefully controlled conditions… But, seriously, crash engineering and vehicle stability control have come a long way in the last decade and its only going to get better. Just because I can and get by without tho use features doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be foolish to forgo the extra little bit safety they provide when the situation requires a responsible dad. Especially since cars with these features are reasonably priced in the used market.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Sign me up as a child abuser, then. The 16 year old just procured an ’84 Parisienne for half the cellphone cost cited above. (Yes, he’s paying for it.) He’s just about finished with the first mandatory task for an old car: replacing the entire cooling system – rad, pump, stat, core, hoses. I like the relatively low output of the 305 and am planning to avoid performance upgrades until the kids are old enough to handle it. Zackman will soon be able to enjoy the sight of this lovely wire wheel covered box rolling down the roads of NKY.

  • avatar

    I always like how some people assume the issue of young people not wanting cars has one, and only one, cause.

    The economy plays into it. Not just the recession but also the minimum wage having no relation to the current cost for nearly everything. Computers and smartphones and social media play into it, but not by replacing real interactions with virtual ones. We still want to hang out with friends and be around other people; we’re just able to have more interactions with more people than before. Part of it is the kinds of cars that are made, but in many ways they’re far, far better than the ones we grew up with so I don’t think that is as big of a factor.

    But here’s another factor: We grew up in the 90s. We got to see the car in, arguably, its worst form: the mandated, gray, frustrating, commuting appliance. We got to witness, first-hand, the landscape the automobile-as-mandated-appliance gave us. The slow march of the strip malls and fast-food joints down the highway. The endless congestion between 3 and 5 everyday. The ruined, empty parking lots. The beat-up suburban neighborhoods. In all of this, there was almost nothing to reaffirm the idea that the car could be a good or enjoyable thing. Especially when so many of the cars were the econoboxes and family sedans that we still complain about.

    And yet, I don’t think the people of my generation hate cars. I just think the attitude is, “Why would I take a bunch of the money I make from my minimum-wage, part-time job and spend it on more of that.” Most of us already have used cars, but that’s because we HAVE TO. If it were an expense that we could get away from, I think a lot of young people would.

    Of course, I can’t speak for all people my age. I just get a bit tired of, “These dumb young people with their Youfaces and iTubes don’t know what they’re missing! If only they’d drive an old International Harvester Scout, then everything’d be fixed.”

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      It’s true, the 90′s was a bleak time for automobile enthusiasts. But on a lighter note, the last 10 years has been a golden era. Over the next 10-15 years there’ll be plenty of awesome cheap hot rod choices.

      My kids are thrilled about cars, so whether their friends are when they reach that age is of no consequence to me. What excites me is being able to pass the enthusiasm on to them and the future looks bright for that.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        Are you kidding? In the 90s, even Toyota offered at least 3 sports cars: Celica, MR2 and Supra (4, if you count Paseo). Honda had Prelude and NSX. Mazda had MX-6. Nissan had 300ZX, which is far more appealing than the current Z in relative terms. At the ultra high end, there was XJ220, EB110, F50, and F1.

        It’s the 2000′s that see car makers only offering sedans and SUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      Dingleberrypiez

      Timealone, I too am nauseated by the vilification of both young people and modern technology. I’m sorry, these changes are not the result of kids being (all of a sudden) “lazy” or “anti-social.”

      There are a few other insightful opinions within this thread, glad to know others share my opinion.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Me three.

        The “Kids today” epithet was useless when the Greeks said it, and it’s still spitting in the wind.

        Plus, my son’s great grandmother is on Facebook more than anyone I know, followed by my 67 year old iPhone-wielding mother. My mother sends me a lot of texts, too.

        The smartphone thing isn’t about age. It’s about how you deal with change. Do you spit in the wind, or do you put a tool that can access most of human knowledge in your pocket and reconnect with far-flung relatives? Members of my family have chosen both – but I talk to the ones who are more flexible because it takes so little effort.

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      I’ll have to give you an Amen on this one, because there’s no +1 or upvote feature. You put into words how I feel about the whole thing.

      It also doesn’t help a lot of movies and shows when I was growing up, typically portrayed freeways and cities as big nasty dirty things.

  • avatar
    ehgee

    I’m 25. I owned one car while living for a year in car-obligatory San Diego. I drove that car to New York City and sold it to pay off my student loans. Car-optional city living, which a smartphone greatly enhances, is a lot more fun to me, and the same is true for a lot of people in my generation.

    An unlocked Nexus 4 (the top-of-the-line Google phone) costs $300, and T-Mobile prepaid costs $30/month for 5GB data, 100 minutes, and unlimited texting. That’s $1020 total for two years.

    A decent new singlespeed bike can be had around $300, and a decent geared one starting at $400, with near-zero running costs. That’ll get you to a ton of places in a city with decent bike infrastructure, as is being built in many cities in this country. And you get fit from riding it.

    Any of the cars in the article is $2600 out the door, plus a ton of money for running costs. Unfortunately, far too much of our country is sprawling hellscape, where people have no option but getting overpriced automobiles. But there are a lot of places where cars are optional, and I know I’ll always choose to live in one.

    I may not always live in New York, which has its own problems with housing costs, but I’ll have a big stack of money saved if I leave, due to the high salaries and low transportation costs.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    Bicycles, that forgotten form of transportation**, work not for all, but for many. You can even have your iphone on the handlebars – there are brackets for that.

    **Fixie pretenders excluded

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      **Fixie pretenders excluded

      I was on a major university campus last week and I’ve never seen so many girls trying so desperately to look like Zoey Deschenel (but isn’t that “maniac-pixie” or mixie?) or to look like Keshia. It was sort of depressing.

    • 0 avatar
      ehgee

      I ride a fixie to work daily and for local trips. (I have a touring bike for longer rides.) It’s cheap, fun, hard to break, and, of course, fashionable. I use brakes because I’m not stupid.

      Some young men ride fixies like idiots, but it’s a lot harder to kill someone with a fixie than the hot rod that’s an alternate hobby for young men who like speed.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    It’s pretty unfair to compare all the costs of having a cell phone for a year to just the initial purchase price of a car. Besides, kids are usually on family plans. Even in the worst case, that means the monthly bill is closer to $75, for a two-year total of $2,000.

    If you’re young, you’ll pay at least $2,000/yr for insurance. Gasoline could easily cost $1,000 if you drive 5-10,000 miles in a year. Assume zero repairs and no maintenance for two years, and you’re paying $5,000 even if you get a free hand-me-down car.

    Buy a $2,600 car, and your two-year costs come out to $7,600 for the car vs. $2,000 for the smartphone.

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    What is this, The Truth About Old Men?

    Get off my lawn!

    I especially enjoy seeing the youth of today denigrated for not wanting or not affording to participate in the car culture as if the reasons (stagnating or declining income, increased regulation, increased requirements, increased costs, etc) are of their own doing.

    Look in the mirror, folks. The kids aren’t responsible for this.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    Agreed, the smart phone is what’s gonna get a young lad girls and let’s face it, that’s what a car was for. Money saved goes toward, what else, clothes and more girls. Sounds awful.

    However, if it were me, I’d take the Scirocco. Yeah the HVAC doesn’t work, but the system on those 80′s VeeDubs were incredibly simple. Most likely the mouse-wheel froze up or one of the hard to find tiny fuses blew.

    Not to be nitpicky, but the yella ‘Stang is a ’96-’98, not a ’95. After market boyracer spoiler notwithstanding, the ’94-’95 had the “Cheesegrader” (horizantal like that green ’94) tail lamps. The ’96-’98 had the Verts. Also the ‘GT’ badge states ’4.6L’, an engine not available in ’95.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “Agreed, the smart phone is what’s gonna get a young lad girls…”

      I don’t know what world you live in but I’m glad I’m not there.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        I’ve got three girls, two in their teens. Trust me, I’d be thrilled to have a young man visit the house in his car that he bought from the job he had. No. Such. Luck.

        It’s also called technology. Try some. You might like it.

  • avatar
    kjb911

    I am 22 years old…when I turned 16 in the bad old days of 2006 where gas had skyrocketed to $4.58 near my area I decided to purchase a one owner 1985 Pontiac Fiero SE with a five speed manual and the duke of iron. It was never fast by any standards but was a hoot to throw around a corner or brake feverantly when a jack ass ran a red light and i had to point and pray I would hit something softer. After a few mods I managed to squeak out 120hp from that engine which was still not fast but rather peppy and a mid engine rwd setup made it an absolute blast in the snow. while most of my friends hated driving and were afraid to pump gas I was taking sunday drives to nearby states trying not to get into trouble. The Fiero was issue free for the 100,000 miles (okay except for one incident where the alternator went and left me stranded after a battery drain in the middle of Pottersville, RI at 2:30am) I wanted that car more than a sidekick (which was the defacto choice in school if you wanted to be cool) I had so many fond memories and when my ex crashed it after bottoming out in front of the RI courthouse, I cried for days when they said there was nothing they could do to fix it unless I was willing to dish out over $3,000. College was more important so the Fiero was junked and made room for a 6spd Tiburon SE V6 in sunrise yellow. Was it a crappier car than the Fiero…Probably not but the yearning of RWD made me always compare it to the ol Pontiac. A little faster a little more practical I pushed that car to its very small limits time and time again and while doing sacrificed buying a smartphone since I wanted another ecu reflash to kick up the HP. Unfortunatley the Tiburon was plagued with gremlins galore and was mercifully killed by a teen idiot in a brand new 3 series who was busy texting on said smartphone rather than driving. The Tiburon gave way to a 4×4 Jeep Grand Cherokee with a 4.7L and quadra-trac system. This was my 20th birthday gift to myself and rather than facebook and myspace with friends I would show up in hail, blizzard, sleet, and rain to hang out or explore the trails of RI and CT to places few ever go. Once again I chose the car over worrying about my FB status. Unfortunatley the Jeep was plagued with more issues and personalities than Britney Spears and a failed inspection along with a blown transmission meant that on my 21st bday I decided to buy a 2012 Ford Focus SE sport package with a 5spd manual transmission. The Focus is by far one of my favorite vehciles next to my Father’s G8 GXP and to this day whenever a friend asks why I put so many miles on my car I reply with because I like to drive. My sister is turning 15 this year and I have already taught her how to drive stick and basic fundamental of defensive driving along with my father. She has already decided she either wants a 4.0L 1999 Wrangler with a 5speed or a 1999 Trans Am for shear fun factor. I guess the point I’m making is that yes my generation and my sister’s generation have abandoned the automobile for mobile-connectivity but there is a small glimpse of hope especially the generation following mine. We grew up in a horrible time known as the 1990′s with minivan’s, SUV’s, and GM’s plastic-craptastic vehicles dominating the driveways of my suburban neighborhood. Nothing turns a kid off the the joys of driving like Pontiac Tran-Sport Montanas, Buick LaSabres, Toyota (well really much anything they make), and countless ads promising sportiness and the reality of a major letdowns. Today the kids of the newer generation are exposed to true RWD sports cars and the HP wars along with interesting bodies and a re-newed interest in manual transmissions. Twenty years from now when I tell my kids about my child hood I’ll look back and reminisce of gas being a cheap $4.58 and when gas guzzling SUV’s ruled to road and when they ask why I think its more important getting a car instead of the iPhone 65 i will look at them and say because it’s a way to have fun and to feel free and not contstrained with society. Every time I take a drive in my car for pleasure the cares of the world melt away and hopefully will continue to until the day I can no longer do so

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    I should add that when you’re using a smartphone, the authorities aren’t making sure you don’t have fun.

    These days you’ll get pulled over for anything, and there’s a good chance it’ll result in an insurance hike to $4000/yr. No cruising signs are everywhere now. You can’t have a passenger with you for up to a year in some states either, nor can you find a place to park with your girlfriend without drawing police attention. Driving sucks.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Good point, cash strapped municipalities are looking to fill the coffers anyway they can irregardless of the long-term cost to the driver.

      Tis’ one of the reasons Virginia updated its speeding laws, not only to hide the “civil remedial fee” (I forget your name you blood sucking parasite but may you rot in hell for introducing that bit of legislation as should your money grubbing fellows) but also to increase the frequency of wreckless drivers.

      In Va, as with alot of states, 20 over the posted limit is wreckless driving (fair enough, that’d be 90 mph on some highways and almost 50 in just about any neighborhood), however they amended it to 20 over the posted limit or 80 mph and faster. In some areas of the state the speed limit is 70 mph so going as little as 10 miles over the speed limit can land you a wreckless driving ticket which can net a driver some fairly serious fines to the tune of a coupla thousand dollars.

      The best part about all this in the case of the now deposed “civil remedial fee” is that the author of law admitted it was a blatant attempt to help fill the states coffers when he came under fire for the lame fee (which applied only to Va residents at the time).

  • avatar
    genuineleather

    That’s a decision I never had to make. In high school, my parents paid for my car, gas, and insurance (as did most of my friends’ parents). My Blackberry cost an extra $15/month on my family’s cell plan, which was paid out of a business account.

    Now 21, I would NEVER pay the going rate for a smartphone. Give me a basic phone anyday; getting by on wifi is no hardship. I’ve no need to check facebook every five minutes.

  • avatar
    Mark in Maine

    The Litchfield Cadillac “ute” is a 20-minute drive up the road from here – may have to motor up and have a look. The building behind it seemed familiar, and I realized that I bought a set of used tires for my Camaro from this guy a couple of years back. Everyone above has made many good points – the social landscape of teens,as well as their driving habits, have changed forever, and I think that younger people will always drive, but not in the numbers that they once did. And there will still always be that enthusiast fringe element who won’t be satisfied with beige Corollas.

  • avatar
    kkt

    If you drive around in one of these 20-year-old beaters, you’d better have a cell phone so you can call for help when you get stranded.

  • avatar
    jeffsnavely

    Great writing – keep it up!

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Well, maybe its also a little bit of ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ too. Kids nowadays have been known to turn down the occasional hand-me-down car. They many times have several to choose from.

    As so many have mentioned, they have quite a lot of competition for their time, not just from social media, but school work. Taking the SAT IS the second job for many affluent teens these days. When I was a kid you maybe bought a prep book a couple or three weeks before the test and spent a few hours practicing. Really gung ho people might take the SAT one more time. Doing so was seen as an admission of overweening ambition amid personal failure. A kid wanting to go to well known college (they aren’t necessarily the same list as we have now) would keep up mostly As take some advanced classes join several clubs, and be genuinely active in one school activity. Nowadays they have to build a mission church in Guatemala to make an impression. So the kids use their cars like middle aged people–to commute. No wonder they don’t like it much.

    They have gone a little nuts with this graduated license stuff. If it were me, I would extend the learner’s permit period by another six months, but by making it available earlier. I kind of liked having my kid drive me around. It was like having a chauffeur. A bad chauffeur, but still…..

  • avatar
    keriazy4

    anybody got his car before these phones comes out he/she will prefer the car over the phone + a car doesn’t cost just the price
    1.u pay taxes if u got it from a dealer even used
    2.insurance
    3.gas
    4.oil change
    5.maintanence
    6.plate fees
    7.like young want their phone unik with covers colors ext,cars also spent on rims, xenon,tint,sound system,gps
    8.finally even good drivers pau at least parking ticket “happen”

    so cars spend more money not just $2600 but for a guy like me i like to spend on a car and go with a broken phone “i have a broken one”

  • avatar
    LuciferV8

    1995 Honda Civic -$1500
    Insurance for a year -$2300
    Gas – $700
    Repairs -$350
    Maintenance -$250

    *Not having to wait around in the goddamn rain for the bus
    *Not having to sit on the bus next to the screaming baby
    *Not having to ask mom to take you places the bus won’t go
    *Not having to listen to your mom’s horrible music
    *Racing down the highway with AC/DC blasting on the stereo

    -Priceless

    • 0 avatar
      Conslaw

      Lucifer, let’s say you pay off half the Civic this year and half next year. This year you’re paying $3,600. How many hours would you have to work at $8.00/hour to pay for that? 450. Hours per week? (assume 2 weeks off) 450/50 = 9 hours/week. Is that too much? for some yes, for some no.

  • avatar
    Polestar R Design

    First car was an ’80 Ford Courier for $2400-drove the hell out of it and laid it to rest. My second car was for $2700 and was a ’67 Ford Mustang. Loved it, maintained and restored it to look hot for the girls 30 years ago. I still have this car and it is worth around $10-12K as a vintage collector. In a few years it turns fifty. Bottom line is that despite the cost of $100/month for car insurance, I KNOW all of this time and effort made be a much more resourceful individual today…and much richer in multiple ways.
    You can have the IPhone or blackberry. I’ll take the $350 IPAD and Starbuck’s or McDonalds Wi-Fi any day for the memories of a good quality, good looking vehicle.


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