Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A car for WCMIK

So .... the World's Cutest and Most Intelligent Kid (aka WCMIK) is soon to start Driver's Ed. At some point thereafter, he will have a driver's license, and he will want a car of his own.

The thought is more than a little bit frightening. Young, inexperienced drivers, especially the male ones, have a high likelihood of becoming involved in traffic accidents, and these accidents often involve serious injuries, or even death. There's also a financial burden -- even with discounts for driver's ed and taking the insurance company's safe-driving course and being a good student, when WCMIK gets his driver's license, the cost for our car insurance will more than double. If we end up getting a third vehicle, we have to deal with the costs of insuring and operating that car.

We already know we're going to be setting forth a lot of ground rules. For example, if WCMIK's grades fall below the level at which the good-student discount applies, his driving privileges will be revoked until the grades come back up. If we get an additional vehicle, at least some of the costs of operating that vehicle will be his -- Pat and I haven't figured out details yet, but the general thought is that we pay basic preventive maintenance, and he pays for gas, repairs necessitated by his own negligence, and any improvements or customization he wants to do -- and if he's paying for the improvements, we as parents won't veto anything unless it's unsafe or obscene.

So I've been thinking about what sort of car WCMIK ought to get.

Brand-new Camaro or Mustang: Utterly out of the question. I am astonished at the number of kids who believe it is their right to get a Camaro for their 16th birthday, no matter what -- and the number of irresponisble parents who actually buy into that myth. Ford has even issued a warning to dealers (lawsuit protection, I'm sure) not to sell a Mustang if they suspect the primary driver will be a teenager. Since a primary characteristic of teenagers is acting before thinking, I don't want the acting part to be connected to the accelerator of a car that does 0 to 60 in far less time than it takes for the thinking to kick in.

1996 Chevy Cavalier: It's a decent, solid, reliable car. It gets the job done. It's not pretty. It's not a hot rod, although with good tires, it has really great handling. Yeah, it's the kind of car a self-respecting teenager wouldn't want to get caught dead in -- but maybe that means he avoids driving in such a manner that he would end up dead. Also, if he totals it, it's not worth much, so it's not a major loss. There's a bonus for me: If El Caballero becomes his car, I get a new one.

2000 Ford Expedition: Scary. An inexperienced driver in a large, clumsy vehicle could really do some damage to whatever he runs over. Crushing the occasional Yugo might be seen as a public service, but there's no telling what else he might flatten. Yeah, Babe is good for the Boy Scout stuff, but the Scouts require adult supervision anyway, and WCMIK doesn't need need a large SUV for day-to-day driving around town.

1989 Volvo 240: This was our original plan -- it's WCMIK's great-aunt's car. She loves her Volvo, but we thought that we might get her to part with it if we stood her the down payment on a new Volvo. The thing is built like a tank, so safety is taken care of. It's had one owner, who has maintained it fastidiously, so it's reliable. Unfortunately, Auntie has moved out of town, so her car's not as available as it used to be.

1983 Lincoln Town Car: It's an heirloom from Pat's family. It's lived in a climate-controlled garage for all of its life, so it's in good condition for its age, but it does need some minor body work (a dent in one of the doors) and the air conditioner needs rebuilding. I see huge potential for the car to become a major work of art -- it's a veritable cathedral in the rough. This car can also keep the kid out of trouble -- he will be spending so much time keeping the engine running (it's vacuum-hose city under the hood, which means a lot of time tracking down vacuum leaks to fix whatever goes wrong) and doing the artistic customizing that this car cries out for, that he will not have time to get into mischief.

1975 Olds 98: Like the Town Car, but more so.

I'll be setting up a poll for easy, quick, short answers, but I'd like for people also to ring in with their opinions and reasoning here.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Mom said...

Actually, it's a 1974, and it cost Dad over $70 to fill the tank--high octane + additive to replace the lead! I think that would cut driving to only the essentials!

Wed Jul 27, 06:47:00 AM MDT  
Anonymous Jerry said...

You left out 1967 Opel Kadett. 0 to 60 in, uh... Can we use kilometers?

Wed Jul 27, 10:21:00 AM MDT  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

Ooh, I forgot about the Opel. Now THAT might be an interesting option!

Wed Jul 27, 11:20:00 PM MDT  
Anonymous Dr Pants said...

I like how they do it here. You can't drive a car until you are 18. But you can drive a motorcycle when you are 16. Motorcycles can quickly give kids who are 16 a lesson in physics. They are smaller and more vulnerable... therefore they must drive safely or they will be the ones who pay... I personally will makemy kids wait until they are 18..

And one other thing. To get a driver license here everyone has to take a drivers course that costs.. get this... $2000!

Thu Jul 28, 04:50:00 AM MDT  
Anonymous jesse said...

Wow!, $2000. That's something. I agree with you - the mustang/camaro is out, and it shouldn't be a problem, because if he really becomes a muscle car nut he will find a cure on his own, i.e. get a job, save up, hang out with other car nuts, etcetera. A big car is definately safer in a wreck. With your mom's god point about fuel prices, the 1983 Lincoln is starting to sound very good.

Thu Jul 28, 08:03:00 AM MDT  
Blogger Pat said...

If we get the Town Car, then we'd need to do some serious carport construction both in Albuquerque and Laguna Vista. Maybe Gerald should enroll in a carpentry class?


http://desertsea.blogspot.com

(now has Part 1 of Catalina Cruise, plus photos added for "Cottonwood Chainsaw Carnage")

Thu Jul 28, 12:19:00 PM MDT  
Anonymous David Burch said...

1996 Chevy Cavalier
- The gas mileage is better and getting around in New Mexico requires a lot of driving.
- It's a good, decent, reliable car, you know the history, and if it was good enough for mom... Bonus: you get a new car.
- It is smaller than the Olds, Expedition, and the Lincoln are too big. Yes, bigger is typically safer, but the Cavalier is newer with better safety equipment. He will be able to cram way too many teenagers in the others. The greater the number of mouths, the greater the distraction and chance for disaster.
- Being new, it has a better chance of lasting longer.
- Brand new anything (or 2000 Expedition). Too much for a kid. Give him room to grow.

Sun Jul 31, 08:07:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

Oops, I forgot to mention one other factor -- he's auditioned and been accepted into a citywide youth orchestra, and the instrument he plays is ... the string bass. He also plays cello, and he auditioned on that, too, but what he got accepted for is the bass. So he's got to be able to haul the bass around to rehearsals.

The Cavalier, unfortunately, can't hold the bass, even with the rear seatback folded down and the front passenger seat totally reclined. On a positive note, neither a Camaro nor a Mustang will carry a bass either.

Possible compromise: He gets the Cavalier, and I get an AWD wagon or small SUV, and when he needs to haul the bass around, we swap vehicles temporarily.

Sun Jul 31, 11:30:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Pat said...

At least we got some good news this weekend: the weekly researsals will only by a couple of miles and about eight minutes from home instead of the 10 miles we expected originally. Makes that bass-hauling a little easier. At least bassist's families have it a bit easier than the folks who transport the harp and harpist.

Mon Aug 01, 06:02:00 PM MDT  

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