QOTD: What's the Uncoolest Choice For a 2015 Teenager's First Vehicle?

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

I just took my chopped, Carson-top-equipped, heavily-customized 1969 Toyota Corona coupe to a local car show and won a trophy without even washing the thing. All but the most tradition-bound angry old coots think the Kustom Korona is pretty cool, but that got me thinking about the reason I’d spent so many years wanting a cool Corona: my very first car was a 1969 Toyota Corona sedan. A beige Corona sedan, which cost 50 bucks at the corner gas station and had a clattery pushrod four-banger at a time when my peers and I lusted after Detroit muscle cars with tunnel-rammed V8s with Centerline wheels. This was pretty much the uncoolest car possible for a 16-year-old to drive in the East Bay in 1982.

So what’s the 2015 equivalent to that hooptiefied, unidentifiable, squat little Japanese sedan?

Naturally, such a car would have to be old enough to be sort of battered and depressing, yet not old enough to be interesting in a nostalgia-inspiring way. These days, I think that would be somewhere in the 1990-2005 range, although vehicles outside that range — say, a salvage-title ex-rental ’08 Chevy Aveo or a 600,000-mile white ’88 Sentra sedan — probably qualify. It can’t be anything with distinctive styling or the slightest hint of sportiness and/or luxury, so we can rule out Saabs, Quad-4-engined GM products, and anything made by any of the Japanese luxury marques. Ideally, it would be something that most teenagers can’t identify at a glance, so that the long-suffering owner must answer the sneering “What is this POS?” question over and over and over. And, of course, it must be a car that you can buy for next to nothing.

My vote is for the joyless, generic Daewoo Lanos. Any teenager driving a Lanos now is going to be buried beneath a gigantic heap of Korean-GM uncoolness. What’s your choice?

This Korean-market Lanos ad just makes the car even more uncool, by reminding Lanos owners exactly how little their cars resemble a black panther stalking the streets of Seoul.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on Jul 02, 2015

    My friend has done the same thing with all three of his kids. When they approach 16, they go on a trip out West and start looking for a clean 2WD, short bed F150, Chevy/GMC, or Ram truck. First one got a blue 2000 F150, which is still going strong at the neighbor's house after the kid bought a 2009 Mustang. The second one was a 2004(?) Silverado, bad paint, but it had the 5.3 V8 and it was a very reliable truck until the kid fell asleep and whacked a tree with it. The tree won, but the kid walked away with only a sore face from the air bag. The last one was a 10k mile 2010 Ram bought in Las Vegas a month ago from the widow of an old man who was the original owner. It's in almost new condition inside and out, and my friend's daughter loves it. He got it for $14000, and it's loaded up with all the toys.

  • 415s30 415s30 on Jul 07, 2015

    PT Cruisers are terrible, I saw a gold one today and almost threw up

  • 3-On-The-Tree Lou_BCsame here I grew up on 2-stroke dirt bikes had a 1985 Yamaha IT200 2-strokes then a 1977 Suzuki GT750 2-stroke 750 streetike fast forward to 2002 as a young flight school Lieutenant I bought a 2002 suzuki Hayabusa 1300 up in Huntsville Alabama. Still have that bike.
  • Milton Rented one for about a month. Very solid EV. Not as fun as my Polestar, but for a go to family car, solid. Practical EV ownership is only made possible with a home charger.
  • J Love mine, but the steering wheel blocks dashboard a bit, can't see turn signals nor headlights icons. They could use the upper corners of the screen for the turn signals. Mileage is much lower than shown too, disappointing
  • Aja8888 NO!
  • OrpheusSail I once did. My first four cars were American made, and through an odd set of circumstances surrounding a divorce, I wound up with a '95 Nissan Maxima which was fourteen years old and had about 150,000 miles on it.It was drove better, had an amazing engine, and was more reliable than any of my American cars. This included a new '95 GMC pickup that went through five alternators in under two years while the dealership insisted that there was no underlying electrical problem while they tried to run the clock on the warranty.That was the end of 'buy American'. I've bought from Honda and VW since, and I'll consider just about anything except American now.