I cut my teeth on a Plymouth Acclaim. I thought it was a piece of junk, and I hated it at first. I wished my folks had bought me something cool for a first car, like a mean off-roader or a Mustang.
I didn’t appreciate what a good decision my parents made with that Acclaim until much later.
I graduated high school in South Texas back in 2007, just as the Recession kicked off. The student lot was full of pickups and Wranglers. Every other car parked, was something like an F-250, with a Wrangler parked next to it. The odd Passat wagon was in there; there were Neons and Explorers. But half the lot was trucks. All these years later, I still think it was lunacy to give a 16- or 17-year old a huge truck when gas easily cost more than three dollars a gallon.
My Acclaim might have been a K Car with a facelift, but its inline-four was thrifty. It wasn’t as frugal as something like a Civic or a Sentra, but I appreciated not having to pay too much filling up the gas tank on a pickup whose Vortec or Hemi engine was going to guzzle it down by the middle of the week.
I think a lot of drivers are wary of how dangerous a fast car is in the hands of a teenager, but another thing to consider is the overall cost of ownership. How much would a sports car cost to insure and operate versus a pickup? I couldn’t tell you, but my K-car was cheap to insure and only mildly expensive to fill up. To a 16-year old me, anyway.
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I still think a big pickup is a questionable choice for a first car, and I’d be just as skeptical about it as any of the Mustangs and Firebirds I saw my school-mates drive. But what about you? What’s the dumbest car you’ve ever seen a parent buy for their kid?