QOTD: What's The Best Car For Learning Auto Mechanics?

Mark Stevenson
by Mark Stevenson
qotd what s the best car for learning auto mechanics

With the proliferation of technology in newer cars, getting a grasp on the basics is a good plan before tackling anything else. Older cars provide just that. But, what car is best for learning the basics of auto mechanics?

I’m not going to lie and say I’m gifted with a wrench, because I’m not. Give me a mechanical problem to solve and my mind spins like a 20 G centrifuge. That’s not to say I can’t handle the basics, though: oil, brakes, and other simple wear items are fairly easy to learn when you own a clunker. But, if there’s a sound coming from the engine itself, I’m absolutely clueless.

I’ve owned two vehicles in particular that have taught me much more than I’d ever thought I’d know. One was a 2000 Honda Civic this author admits to lowering during his formative douchebag years. The second, and on the completely opposite end of the size spectrum, was my 1995 Ford Bronco. It was a big, beast of a truck. If you were looking for a particular part attached to your Bronco and couldn’t find it, you were probably having a diabetic eye stroke. Everything was massive.

So, Best & Brightest, what vehicles in your life have taught you (or maybe the ones around you) the most about automotive mechanics?

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5 of 124 comments
  • Acd Acd on Apr 30, 2015

    Triumph Stag. That way the aspiring wrench turner will get plenty of opportunities to practice his skill on every part of the car and will have a tremendous sense of accomplishment if he eventually gets it to move under its own power.

    • CJinSD CJinSD on Apr 30, 2015

      Perhaps. A friend of mine that now has his own BMW tuning business got his start because his first car was a Peugeot 504 or 505.

  • Cabriolet Cabriolet on Apr 30, 2015

    A buddy of mine has the same new Beetle shown in the heading. Not that hard of a car to work on if you know what you are doing. You do need a Vag-Com program to work on the car to get it fixed. I have used this program for years and the cost is very little. He has about 200,000 miles on the car and other then belt changes with water pump and a bad wire with the air bags i have been able to keep the car in service. Unlike Japanese cars European cars are very easy to take apart as the bolts are of good steel and do not freeze solid. My 20 year old Miata was always a job to work on getting parts off. After a while i used to keep a supply of bolts on hand to replace broken bolts. I sold my Miata last month as it was getting a little hard to get into. Getting old is hell. Just brought a 25 year old VW Cabriolet with 50,000 miles and "No Rust". Now all i have to do is correct the work of butcher mechanics that worked on the car over the years. I can still get all of the parts for this model and the parts are still cheap. Should keep me busy over the summer.

  • Skor Skor on Apr 30, 2015

    I learned the basics on a 1964 Ford Falcon. 170 cube I6, single barrel carb, 2 speed auto, power nothing. Once you've got the basics, everything else is just a layer added to the top.

  • Ryoku75 Ryoku75 on May 01, 2015

    Owning various Hondas, Fox Bodies, a panther Marquis, and air-cooled VWs I'll say this: RWD Volvos have taught me more about car work than any others be it suspension work, electronics, interior, body work, or engine work. They're setup pretty straightforward, finding junkyard parts has gotten trickier but theres always a cheap 240 for sale somewhere. I'm less certain with 740-940's, in some ways they're easier to sort out (alternator, superior electrics, modern fuses, better rust prevention) while in other areas not so much (less room under the car, gauge cluster requires more work to remove, interior in general has more trim in the way). I'd certainly take one over a MK3 Golf or whatever random suggestions people are throwing around (A Taurus? Seriously?). Make sure you like the car from the getgo though, theres a reason why people will fix even the most beige vintage coupes, but not even bother with mini-vans.