QOTD: Help for Noobs?

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

We all had to start somewhere. Most of us have turned a wrench or three on a car, particularly one in which we’ve tried — with varying degrees of success — to make “better.”

I put that word in quotation marks because some of my well-intentioned wrenching sessions simply ended up making things a heckuva lot worse. Today’s question is simple: what (realistic) car would you recommend to a kid who wants to spend their time and money hopping up a vehicle?

Surely we can all agree the beautiful coupe at the top of this post is out of the cards, as any good examples have long since returned to the earth in the form of fine iron-oxide filings … at least in most parts of the country. Nevertheless, that Civic was easy to work on and owners had an abundance of aftermarket gear from which to choose.

What’s the modern equivalent? One could argue the modern Civic, as the big H never seems to go out of style with the tuner crowd. A present-day Golf wouldn’t be a bad choice either, given its measure of handling and decent availability of tuning choices.

These days, I’d recommend the FR-S/BRZ/86/whatevernameitistoday. Used examples abound, many of which have relatively low mileage thanks to a quick trade-in due to buyer’s remorse or spousal prodding or any number of reasons. Sales drones in most Toyota showrooms don’t seem to know how to sell a cool car anymore, content to sit on their heels and shovel people into beige Corollas. Both situations — new and used — are advantageous for people like us.

What would you recommend for a budding gearhead? It doesn’t need to be a new car; perhaps you think something about five years old would turn their crank. Sound off below, and be sure to tell us why.

[Image: Honda]

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

More by Matthew Guy

Join the conversation
2 of 65 comments
  • Gtem Gtem on Aug 27, 2018

    $10-$15k for a first car to screw around with? That’s doing it wrong. Buy something for $2-3k and learn how to fix and maintain it, then maybe get into some minor mods (audio, wheels, etc). Late 90s-early 2000s maxima would be my choice. Cheap and sturdy, the VQ30s will take anything you can throw at them and are much more fun to drive than some old 3800 powered boat (except a Grand Prix GTP, that’s a good choice too). The only thing to look out for on the Nissans is rust, but same applies to any other older Japanese or domestic choice. My beater 2000 Maxima SE was a hoot, even with an automatic. They’re light cars and steer well.

  • Brn Brn on Aug 27, 2018

    CVPI that hasn't been beat on too badly. Bulletproof (literally, bulletproof panels in the doors). Inexpensive. Not too bad to wrench. Parts are everywhere. Everyone knows how to work on them. Designed to take a beating. Bad gas mileage, but we weren't looking for that now were we?

  • Redapple2 Brandee. Another Stanford grad. Bankman Fried. The blood test girl. Mary Barra.
  • Redapple2 CruiseSTUPID, battery problems, software, killing carplay and AM. Why is this so hard.
  • Alan Like all testing and analysis work you need a good set of requirements. If you don't you'll find or end up with gaps.
  • Alan In aviation there is more vigourous testing, well, until Boeing changed things.
  • Alan This outcome was certain.The US, Australia and Canada need to approach this differently. A policy towards plug in hybrids should of been a first step. As in CAFE gradually tighten FE from there.There's no reason why you can't have a 2 litre F-150 with electric motors putting out 400-500hp. A 2 litre turbo is good for 200hp more than enough to move a pickup.Also increase fuel tax/excise every year to fill the void in loss of revenue.