A car for WCMIK
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.