By on August 7, 2020

1982 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera in California wrecking yard, front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Kids, as we all know, exist for but one purpose: to replace us. You’re out there on the deck, grilling steaks, and over there sits Junior. Waiting.

It’s ominous.

But kids need to get around, especially to places of employment so that they can pull their own weight. So sometimes a purchase is in order, or at least the gifting of a well-used vehicle you’d planned to sell or trade in. Ever done it?

Last week’s ‘best used cars for teens‘ piece got this writer thinking about his younger years, in which he pined for two delectable vehicles that seemed ready to enter his possession at a moment’s notice. One, a 1987 Cutlass Supreme sedan formerly owned by his grandfather. Alas, that rusty RWD sedan went home with a “buyer” who had “money.” What gives?

The other, my dad’s ’79 Pontiac Sunbird 2+2 fastback, found an owner ready to fork over exactly what my dad paid for it three years earlier: $700. Letting that thing slip away remains a dark spot in my life’s journey.

Eventually, I did end up paying a parent for their car. A cool grand for the oft-mentioned ’93 Corsica, which remains the only six-cylinder car I’ve ever owned, and only as a stopgap measure after my own car was smashed by another driver.

Suffice it to say, gifting was not big in my family, and the thought of someone buying me a car, even at a young age, was unthinkable. Other friends found their way into domestic cast-offs, though, with General Motors ridiculously over-represented in the sample group.

We’re all adults now, and many of us have offspring of our own. Have any of your progeny ever benefited from a bought or gifted car handed over from your hard-working hands? What model was it? And if this vehicle was purchased, what criteria did it first have to meet?

[Image: Murilee Martin/TTAC]

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41 Comments on “QOTD: Ever Gifted a Car to Your Replacement?...”

  • avatar

    Yes, as I mentioned in last week’s thread I gave my ’94 Maxima 4DSC to my eldest son, he loved that car more then I did. It saw him through college, marriage and upon the arrival of my first grandson he sold it to a friend with almost 200K miles on it and got a more family orientated vehicle. Everybody liked that Maxima :)

  • avatar

    Currently the plan is to gift my 2015 Accord Sport to my oldest here in another few years assuming we don’t buy something cheap and work together to fix it up.

    The better story is the car I was gifted going away to college: grandpa’s white 1989 Buick Electra Park Avenue Ultra with blue velour, vinyl top, and wire wheels. I was crushed when somebody store the fuel filler door the first day. Only thing that ever broke was the passenger side windshield wiper mount, which as you can imagine can be pretty inconvenient in certain situations, completely irrelevant in others.

    But, man what comfort on trips from Chicago to DeKalb!

  • avatar

    My parents were great at gifting cars to my sister and me, and ultimately to my kids. Seemed more sensible than accepting dealer trade-in values, and much more appreciated too!

    Toyota MR2
    Toyota Corolla Liftback SR5
    Toyota Camry
    Subaru Outback Sport
    Chevy Traverse

  • avatar

    Yup, common practice in my family and my wife’s family, even pre-dating our marriage way back 54 years ago.

    Back then they called them hand-me-downs, like old clothes.

    Interesting to find our replacements have continued the tradition with their replacements.

  • avatar

    We have given away three cars that way. One to our daughter, one to my sister and one to a niece. Two of those three vehicles are still on the road.

    Buy a new car, drive it for at least ten years. Maintain it extremely well. Then give it to a family member who can make good use of it. Works for us.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This month, I’ll be gifting the 13 Optima Hybrid to my son and his wife, who were married last Saturday. Technically, she’s getting it, under the assumption that the insurance will be cheaper.

  • avatar

    I was gifted the worst car I have ever owned back in 1987 which was a 1979 Fairmont that was surface rusting along the sides of the body and the wafer thin paint on the deck lid and hood. We took it to shop class where they sanded it down and we shot it up with spray cans of then easily obtainable dark Ford blue and it came out fairly well considering. I have no kids so will probably gift one of my cars down the road to my best friend’s kids when the time comes.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I have no kids, but as I’ve mentioned here a thousand times now, I bought my mom a car and fixed it up for her. She’s still driving it around confusing people since no one expects to see an elderly woman driving a tinted IS300 Sportcross.

    But my folks essentially gifted me the Land Ark. They bought my sister her first car so they footed most of the bill for the restoration.
    My sister eventually gave me her car (’90 Sunbird) and took my Nissan Sentra to trade in. And then my stepmom and dad gave me her ’90 Maxima when the Sunbird died as an excuse for my stepmom to get herself a new car. My mom also paid for my first new car, a 2005 Scion tC and practically gave me my stepdad’s ’09 Tacoma when he stopped driving.

    I come from a very giving family.

  • avatar

    I have both given and received. My Dad gave me a ‘68 Mercury Montego V-8 in ‘71. It had about 25K on the clock. In the next 2 years and 25K, it went through 3 transmissions and a valve job (Thank the Lord that 1968 Fords carried a 50,000 mile warranty….all work was on Ford!!!). I passed on a ‘2003 Honda Accord to my oldest when she graduated college. It ran flawlessly until about 90,000 when it was devoured by a wreck on the L.A. freeway system. When its a solid car, passing it on provides both the donor and the donee with wonderful feelings and a sense of generational continuity.

  • avatar

    I don’t (and won’t be) having children, so the exact scenario hasn’t happened to me, but I’ve been the beneficiary of my parent’s largess over the years. I think my dad paid $1,000 for my first car, a 1978 Chrysler Lebaron. He then gifted me two successive company cars as they were retired, a 1990 Taurus then a 1993 Taurus. His company sold them to salesmen for virtually nothing because it was cheaper than taking the car back and disposing of it cross country. He sold the previous car each time so really he was only out money for the Lebaron.

    As an adult, he sold me my grandmother’s 1995 Sable for $462, which is what he had spent to get it back on the road after sitting in a garage for several years at the end of her life. Still driving that one.

    Also still driving my mother’s 2001 Accord which he sold me for $2,000 last year.

    I’ve only gifted a car once, when I gave my 1996 Grand Marquis to my mother-in-law whose all-oval Taurus was failing. To keep her pride intact, I told her all I wanted for it was what she got out of the old car and a few months later I got a money order for $650 in the mail.

    As you can see, I’m a big fan of solid, hand-me-down vehicles and since my parents currently have two late model Hondas, I could conceivably go without ever buying another car the rest of my life.

  • avatar

    You know I m not your biggest fan. But, that first paragraph knocked me over. Best Laff of the day. Thanks.

    Reevaluation in process.

  • avatar

    No one has ever gifted me a car. Vehicles my parent’s have owned tend to only leave their possession on a flat bed.

    Two of note though:
    -My grandfather died in 2005 owning a good condition, low option, bought new 1988 Crown Victoria. The family just sold the car for pennies, I wish I had thought to ask about it because I would have bought it.

    -My other grandfather (still alive at 90) is much different person than the one mentioned above. He’s basically bought a new Chrysler or Imperial every 2-5 years since the late 1950s. When I was getting my license in 2002 he had a Chrysler LHS that I was interested in, but we never really were able to work something out. He also had a 2008 300C Heritage Edition that I really liked but I didn’t have much money at the time. He has a 2018 300C right now, I wonder what he’ll do if the Chrysler brand goes away.

  • avatar

    I bought my first car from my dad for $600 – six crisp new 100 dollar bills (he liked that).

    One of my lawn mowing customers paid me $6, and her yard had a wicked slope on the back hill (the Vietnam vet who lived nearby lost a toe mowing a similar slope in his yard, barefoot).

    [The 10-acre commercial lot I mowed later on came with its own equipment and paid better.]

    Possible life lessons:
    a) You appreciate it more if you earn it.
    b) Some sellers like cash.
    c) Never mow barefoot.
    d) When earning money, think beyond retail.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Purchased a VW Type III squareback from my mother.
    Wish that I had taken up her offer to buy her Integra GS hatch. It was an automatic and I decided not to. Bad choice on my part.
    Inherited a Buick from my F.I.L. and a Hyundai from my mother, which we in turn ‘gave’ to our kids.
    From My Old Man, no hand me downs but took an extension on his one year lease on the Pucci, as once he ‘made it’ he refused to drive a car for more than a year.

    My kids have been ‘gifted’ 3 different vehicles. The key is to have them Krowned. Otherwise in Southern Ontario, regardless of the mileage after a certain number of years on the road the salt will cause a number of problems. And trade in values on 10 year old cars, regardless of condition or mileage are laughable.

  • avatar

    My mother junker her perfectly good 1967 VW Typ III squareback rather than give it to me, her only child who wanted it and after it had been promised to me .

    I gave my son his first motor vehicle, a 1978 Honda CT90 when he was 14 so he didn’t have to ride the Ghetto bus to school ~ it taught him a good lesson in responsibility .

    Since then he’s given me a few cars and offered me most of his vehicles before selling but when he’s finished with anything it’s truly finished so I pass .


    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      It’s a shame about that Type III. In my estimation based on many years of ownership/driving air-cooled VW’s the Type III squareback was ‘peak VW’.

      • 0 avatar

        Oh, yes ~ the ’67 Typ II was the first year of dual port intake heads and it had a 1600 C.C. engine with dual 32MM Solex carbys so it got up and boogied if you put your foot into it and still got good fuel economy .

        She’d bought it new from Brookline (Ma.) VW who tried to scam her by ordering it with the three band Blaupunkt radio (AM/FM/SW) ~ she said “screw this ! I ordered and paid for my car three months ago with NO RADIO, give me the keys, I’m outta here !” .

        It was a nice car indeed, my siblings beat on it a bit but it still ran just fine and had the shiny cobalt blue paint I so loved .

        I’ve had several Typ III’s over the decades, still not sure which one I liked best, maybe the cherry 1971 fastback with automatic and sun roof….. I stuipdly sold it to a Korean Customer who offered me $1,000.00 and the ’17 Super Beetle I was doing a clutch job on….

        Oops .

        I used to take people up Mulholland Drive in it, original beige paint and brown seats made it look dun and un inspiring but man oh man did it tear up the hills and sharp coves .

        Yes, I’m one more stupid American who likes fast backs….


        • 0 avatar
          MRF 95 T-Bird

          I grew up with a neighbor who owned a nice Type III Fastback. We used to sit in it and listen to the radio because you could just turn it on without the ignition key. I knew other VW owners, that vinyl and plastic interior smell just sticks with you and brings back memories.
          Many of the later Type III’s with the the Bosch fuel injection were reliable but many owners wanted some more grunt and converted them to dual carbs.

          • 0 avatar

            Ah, well……

            the Bosh D-Jetronic fuel injection was introduced on the 1968 Typ III models in the U.S.A. because air cooled engines are inherently dirty and on trailing throttle they spew hydrocarbons like Linda Blair spewed guacamole .

            The D-Jet system actually cut of all fuel on trailing throttle, this led to problems with “hunting” that drove VW Mechanics and owners crazy….

            If it was left alone and properly serviced (a rare thing) it was reasonably reliable .

            It wasn’t too hard to richen up the mixture to get significantly more power .

            D-Jet was crude, nearly embarrassingly so but it was the 1960’s .


          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            My Type III squareback was also a 1967, blue with the black exterior. Manual transmission.

            Later added the traditional VW Blaupunkt radio taken from a scrapped VWm and yes in VWs of that era you had to turn the radio off manually as it stayed on even when you turned off the engine and removed the keys. I also added a pair of after market front seat headrests.

            Have to admit that VW parts were expensive and their dealers were generally the worst to deal with.

            However that squareback was fun to drive, had phenomenal cargo capacity and was robust.

            The Type IV squareback that I replaced it with was like moving into the future regarding interior design and engineering. But nowhere near as reliable. Electronic issues and quickly wearing brakes being the major foibles.

          • 0 avatar

            I remember when Americans all thought “Blaupunkt” (Bluedot) meant the pinnacle of German radios, turns out they were more like Motorola ~ good solid OEM stuff but not really good fidelity , that would have been Becker .

            Only 4 speed manual boxes were available in any 1967 VW .

            I have a whacky old VW friend who’s deep into the typ IV’s he has several including one little old lady one owner station wagon in yellow, I found it for him in one of those crooked charity donated used car lots .

            They couldn’t make it run yet still wanted $350 for it .

            Fixed one bad wire and it runs great .

            I kept the original VWoA AM/FM radio made by Bendix ~ this too is a cheap and cheerful radio that’s almost impossible to kill and serves as theft / break-in deterrent .

            My son positively hates my old ‘two knobber’ radios that all play fine and get stations in the middle of nowhere, all I had to do was get decent speakers and they sound O.K. .


          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            I am surprised that there are any Type IV’s still running as most survivors had their engines pulled out once prices for 914s skyrocketed.

            A Type IV engine is probably worth more than the vehicle. But I will always have a spot in my heart for the Type IV.

          • 0 avatar

            _WHAT_ ?! .

            You mean I junked a perfectly good 1976 VW/Porsche 914 with the hard to find 2.0 liter engine for nothing ?! .

            I never knew, maybe I should socialize more .

            I thought I’d done well to get $600 for it .

            Even in Los Angeles they mostly rusted out by the 1980’s, I still see them here and there, fun cars to be sure .


          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Not the most reliable resources but a listing of 914s for sale from Hemmings and the Wikipedia reference to the engines.

            ‘At launch, the 411 featured a 1679 cc engine with twin carburetors, subsequently modified in 1969 with Bosch D-Jetronic electronic fuel injection and claimed power output increased from 68 to 80 bhp (60 kW) — this fuel-injected engine shared with the mid-engined Porsche 914 also launched in 1969.

            For 1973 the discontinued 914/6 was replaced in the lineup by a variant powered by a new 100 bhp (75 kW; 101 PS) 2.0 L, fuel-injected version of Volkswagen’s Type 4 engine.’

  • avatar

    I inherited my parents 1968 Galaxie 500 after my dad died. Even when my dad was alive it was unofficially my car. I still have it but currently don’t have the funds to get it up and running.
    My 18 year old son received grandpa’s 1998 F150 extended cab 4×4 as a graduation present.
    I don’t plan on gifting my current vehicles to my sons but they will get everything if something untoward occurs to me.

    • 0 avatar

      Wow Lou ~

      You’ve got a golden oldie there .

      Be sure to put some sort of vapor barrier underneath it unless it’s parked on Concrete ~ simple & cheap plastic sheeting covered by scrap plywood works great ~ I have my old Morris Minor stored this way, over the decades I’ve seen far too many really nice vehicles get rusted to junk by ground moisture, even in the Desert .

      The plywood prevents the sheeting from disintegrating over time .

      I don’t know if I’ll ever be limber enough to re assemble the Morris, I’m looking for a competent and honest Mechanic to do the job .


      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        A Morris Minor!!! My pretend ‘dream garage’ would include a ‘Moggie’ Traveller.

        @LouBC take car of that Galaxie, it is a family heirloom.

        • 0 avatar

          Yeah ;

          It’s a plebeian two door sedan with later 1275 C.C. engine and fully synchronized rib case tranny, new tires and brakes all ’round, lots of new stuff, clutch, U-Joints and so on .

          Body is good, gray paint is chalky, if ever I get it running again I’ll compound, ploish and wax the paint .

          Travelers are nice but you’ve gotta have inside parking because 2/3rds of the body is wood .

          Even if the original wood is perfect they dry out and get dry rot…..

          Not for me, not even free .

          Speaking of Granpa cars, yesterday I was in Thousand Palms, Ca. (think Palm Springs with no money and crappy macadam roads) in a junkyard and this old man drove up in a *pristine* Renault two door from the 1980’s I’d guess, it has 73,000 miles and looked brand new .

          I asked him ‘? giving up on the old bus then?’ .

          “Yep, I tried to sell it, no one wants it….” .

          I doubt that little car has even been parked out side except when at the grocery mart ~ the cloth seats were pristine, even the driver’s one .

          I don’t need any more orphans else I’d given him more than the scrapyard on the spot .


  • avatar

    I paid my parents $500 for my mom’s 2000 Stratus SE back in 2008 and became my first car. Since they used that money for out Christmas presents later that year (we were struggling a bit under the recession), I’d say I was technically gifted that car. Also, there was no way a running (70K miles) and overall decent aesthetic condition Stratus was worth only $500, there’s no way I’d have gotten something remotely better for the price.
    That low rated vehicle got me through 3 years of college w/o issues other than the power steering pump. I’m still not sure I’ll have any kids, but if I do and keep doing good economically speaking, I’ll do my best to give him/her a good enough car to take him/her there and back home for years to come.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    In the mid 80’s one of my grandfathers gifted us a 73 Impala 2 door hardtop. He was upgrading if you can call it that to a Dodge Aries K car. It served us family members well for a few years with normal maintenance. It even survived a collision with a deer with little damage. Then the front suspension bushings started to give way. and the timing chain went at around 120k so it went to the scrapyard for $100. That was at a time when scrap metal prices were decent so they would give you more than $50 for what you brought in.

  • avatar

    We’re about to do it inversely.

    My parents never passed a car onto me. But I’m likely going to give them one of mine soon.

    We’re moving overseas in a few months and I need to offload six cars in our stable. Our tried-and-true Suzuki Esteem has been a loyal commuting companion since 2016, when I bought it for $700. Little work has been needed (namely the starter, battery, struts, and accelerator cable have needed replacing…that’s it), and the AC and all electronics work, it runs perfectly, and the interior looks almost brand new. The paint on the outside has since long faded and it isn’t the prettiest on the outside. Overall, it’s been a great car that’s very reliable.

    It’s the wagon, with the larger 1.8 liter, a manual transmission, and currently 138k miles, so it’s a unicorn of sorts

    My parents have one car, a Santa Fe Sport, and they downsized from having secondary cars (usually Dodge Dakotas for hauling gear) years ago. My Dad especially longs for a second car and a manual transmission. My Mum is against it and she can’t drive manual, and come to think of it, really doesn’t drive at all. They don’t have the financial means for a second car. So, hey, the Esteem would be free, cheap to insure and register, and still has a lot of life left in it.

    To be continued……

  • avatar

    I have never been given a car. The closest I’ve come was my first nice car, a 1995 Accord EX, which I received from my aunt for being the only kid in my immediate family to graduate high school in 2006. She co-signed the loan for me and made my first payment. Otherwise, it was all on me.

    Otherwise, I’ve given cars, well bought, to both of my brothers and my mom. Though I’m the youngest of 3, I’ve always been the one with a better handle on my money and have been able to assist in certain cases.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I was given an 85 Mercury Lynx 2 door with 4 on the floor which was the worst car I ever owned, an 84 Chrysler 5th Avenue with leather seats and wire wheel covers which was really nice, and a 78 Buick Regal Limited Landau 2 door with a V8 which was very nice. I gave my nephew my 99 S-10 extended cab and his wife my 2008 Isuzu I-370 4×4 crew cab which she loves and my nephew loves the S-10.

  • avatar

    I’ve given my parents more cars than they’ve ever given me, and I don’t have kids so…

    But in college I had a female friend who was a foreign exchange student from Austria. She asked me to help her find a car and we ended up getting her a mustard colored 1970(?) Volvo wagon– I think it was a 145. Not only did she enlist me in helping her buy it, but I did several repairs on it too. When she went back to Austria, she gave it to me. It still had problems so I drove it straight to the junkyard and got $60 for it, IIRC.

  • avatar

    My sister bought a 1997 Toyota Tercel under the guise of needing a cheap and economical commuter car. We went in on it together knowing full well it was going to be my son’s first car. We bought it in 2007, and gave it to my son in 2008. It checked the boxes…economical, not fast, stupid reliable (more on that in a minute) and manual transmission, as I was hell-bent that he’d learn to drive a stick. He went off to the Air Force Academy and I drove Tee-Tuu (long story on the name) for a year until he was allowed to have his own car. I shipped it to him and he drove that little box all the way through his Academy years and into the start of his pilot career, even taking quite a bit of good-natured ribbing from his fellow pilots that were driving much, much nicer rides (oh, to see that little white shoebox amongst the Corvettes and Mustangs). But he loved that car! It was fully paid for and cheap to run. He got around 40MPG out on the highway and drove it everywhere. I always told him that when he decided to step up, I wanted the Tercel back. It never went into the shop for anything other than routine maintenance…and stayed on the road well past 240k miles until his fiancé was the unintentional partner in a meeting of the Tercel with a semi truck. Tee-Tuu didn’t stand a chance…and we all were truly saddened by the loss of the car (fiancé walked away unharmed, thankfully). To this day, still the absolute most reliable car ever owned in the family. Probably also the cheapest…and the one most spoken about in reverence and respect!!

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