New Or Used?: Bass Models Edition

Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
by Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
new or used bass models edition
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!

Sajeev Answers:

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.

Steve Answers:

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: to feel a little better about your situation.

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to, and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

Join the conversation
2 of 38 comments
  • ZoomZoom ZoomZoom on Jun 16, 2010

    Haha, I have two other suggestions, and neither has anything to do with "what" car to buy. 1. Buy a cello and a Pod/XT (or like) pedal. Many pedals have an "octave down" feature. Problem solved! 2. He could also buy a six string cello, but that only drops the lowest note by about a fifth. Plus, he'd have to learn the cello's string spacings; they're in fifths, and I believe the double bass is in fourths. Okay, so that second choice isn't much. And neither is the first. Many don't like the sound of the POD. But they may both be cheaper than buying a car. :)

  • Eh_political Eh_political on Jun 17, 2010


  • Theflyersfan There are times in the comments section where I think either some meds really need to be increased, or meds need to be started...Guys, man, this sort of crap is the new normal. Yes, in 2019, a VW project car would have been in very low four digits, but "in these difficult and trying times," I think the only used cars that exist in that price range are stripped and on concrete blocks in a burned out part of town, or are being used as taxis in less wealthy parts of the world. And all that being said, to the wannabe tuners out there who envision themselves croaking about "family," sucking down product-placed Corona beers, and launching Fieros into space or outrunning submarines on ice in Siberia, I don't think there are enough suckers out there who want to pick up the pieces of your bombed-out Fast and Furious fantasies. Watching YouTube videos and having some help from your cousin fresh out of rehab doesn't turn anyone into an expert under the hood, especially on a quality nightmare called the 2003 VW GTI.
  • Azfelix From certain angles the bonnet appears oversized with respect to the rest of the car - like a skinny teenager wearing a bulky sweater nicked from her older sister's wardrobe.
  • Tassos This is way too god damned OLD, 21 years old to have all the necessary options you need TODAY. You need a 10 year old or less car. AND if you give us THIS POS, a 21 year old model, that is not even a LUXURY car, whoever pays $10k for a Golf, And I Do NOT care what anniversary it is (they are all UTTERLY INSIGNIFICANT) deserves to get this MOST UNRELIABLE AND COSTLY TO REPAIR OF ALL LOUSY ECONOBOXES< EVEN THE DOMESTICS AND THE KOREANS.
  • Tassos As you say, Toyota confirmed this on TUESDAY. Today is WEDNESDAY. Why is everything on TTAC held back one or more days before you tell us the NEWS when it is NO MORE THE NEWS?
  • MRF 95 T-Bird You can find a decent and far more stylish Audi TT or an S4 of a similar vintage for under $10k.