Politically Incorrect Teenager Driver Tips

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What type of car is a good choice for a teenaged driver?teenage drivers

I get asked this a lot. Everyone’s got an opinion. Here’s mine:

* Avoid giving your teen an underpowered car.

This may seem counterintuitive – and it’s probably the polar opposite of everything you’ve heard from “safety” experts. If fast cars are a bad choice for teenagers, then surely slow cars are a good choice  . . . right?


For example, an underpowered car lacks the guts to pull into traffic efficiently – that is, safely – forcing other drivers to slam on the brakes or swerve to avoid rear-ending the slow-mover. And a car that has trouble keeping up with highway traffic – which today means being able to maintain at least 70 MPH without struggling – winds up being tailgated and bullied by other cars.

That’s not safe, either.crappy K car

An underpowered is worse than merely unpleasant – or even scary – to drive because it can encourage timidity behind the wheel – which can be just as bad as reckless aggressiveness. Many people develop lifetime driving habits during their first few years of driving. You don’t want to encourage Cloverism by making your son or daughter afraid to drive. A gutless car can do exactly that to them.

Most cars built during the past 10 or so years have adequate power – but watch out for econoboxes built prior to the early 2000s. For instance, Geo Metros – and so on. Also, many otherwise-adequately powerful economy cars with a manual transmission are absolute dogs – and thus, arguably dangerous – when equipped with automatics (more on that in a moment).

A good rule of thumb is as follows: If the car is capable of getting to 60 in 11 seconds or less (about what a current Prius hybrid can do) it is adequately powerful for A to B driving. On the other end of the spectrum, anything quicker than about 7 seconds to 60 is probably too quick for a first-time/teenaged driver.

Be sure to spend as much time researching a prospective car’s 0-60 time as you do its Consumer Reports reliability score.

* Stick with a stickshift.manual gear shifter

A car with a manual transmission is a great idea for a teen’s first car.

One, it will be cheaper to buy (usually). Two, it will probably use less gas. Three, learning how to smoothly coordinate hands and feet requires more concentration and that ultimately results in a higher-skilled driver. By encouraging your child to learn to drive stick, you’ll also open up new possibilities for him or her down the road. They’ll be able to buy the usually more affordable manual-equipped version of a given car, for example. Plus, it will give them a sense of accomplishment.

Also, a manual car – especially when it comes to economy cars – is usually a lot more peppy than the automatic-equipped version of that car. In some cases, a manual-equipped version of a given car is 2 seconds or more quicker to 60 MPH. This isn’t about drag racing. It’s about safety margin. If the manual version of a given car can get to 60 in 9 seconds – but the same car with an automatic takes 11-12 – the manual car has enough of a margin to deal with pulling – safely – into traffic.

The automatic version does not.

* Small cars are not a good idea.crushed Smart car

All else being equal, a smaller, lighter car is inherently less crashworthy than a larger, heavier car. Fuel economy is important. But your kid’s life is even more important.

Be especially leery of short wheelbase/tall profile small cars – the best example being the SmartCar. These design characteristics result in compromised stability, especially at highway speeds. Such cars are “darty” – small steering inputs result in more-than-you’d expect directional changes – and the car often has difficulty maintaining its position in its lane without the driver constantly making small corrections. It’s rather easy for an inexperienced driver to lose control of a car like this, especially when startled – as by a dog (or a kid) running into the road. High winds – the slipstream of a passing semi – sometimes try to push these cars into the next lane (or a tree) before the driver has time to react.

For these reasons, I recommend crossing any car off your list that has a wheelbase shorter than about 100 inches (in make/model terms, anything with significantly less wheelbase than a current Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic sedan), especially if it’s a short wheelbase/tall-roof design like the SmartCar. Such cars – like big SUVs and high-performance sports cars – are compromised designs. They’re made to do some things much better than most cars. But the price you pay for this is greater limitations in other areas.

Such cars are never a good choice for a new/teenaged driver.crash test picture

Also, a word about crash test scores: Be aware that a small car with a “5 Star” rating does not mean it is as a safe as Mercedes S Class or other large car. Crash test scores only reflect the performance of a given model relative to others in the same class of vehicle. This is very misleading. A subcompact that receives a “5 Star” rating is absolutely not comparable to a full-size car (or even a mid-sized car) with the same rating – and may actually be inferior to it, even if the larger car’s number of “stars” is lower.

*Insist they pay for their own insurance  . .  even better, for the car.3D chrome Dollar symbol

Moral hazard. Skin in the game. You want your teenager to personally understand these concepts. Ben Franklin said something along the lines of that which we obtain too cheaply we esteem too little – and of course, the reverse. If your teen has to come up with the money to pay the insurance bill, it’s a strong inducement to keep the bills low. Which is an incentive to avoid wrecking. Which means, paying attention. Being careful behind the wheel. This money motive, arguably, is a helluva lot more effective than oceans of anti-texting, anti cell phone PSAs – and a tsunami of laws forbidding texting-while-driving.

* Avoid The Hooptie.

Some teens inherit the family car when it becomes too old/unsightly for the adults/respectable people to drive. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the idea of giving a teen a well-used car; just be sure it’s in sound mechanical order – particularly if the car is for your daughter. Politically correct crap aside, It’s a fact of life that a teenaged boy faces less danger if the car he’s driving breaks down in a seedy part of town than a teenage girl would face.Hooptie picture

Non-structural rust, faded paint and dented fenders are no big deal. But sketchy brakes and balding tires are. Mechanically hip fathers will know all about this and check the car out before handing it over to their kid. But many people have little, if any mechanical knowledge and if that’s you, have the prospective car completely checked out by a mechanic and any functional problems fixed.

* School them.

This one’s related to the Hooptie issue. Cars – especially older cars – sometimes break down. Even new cars sometimes have problems – a flat tire, for instance. Or a dead battery.girl changing tire

It used to be a common ritual for fathers to teach their sons – and their daughters – basic things about cars and how to fix them. But nowadays, many adults know as little about the workings of cars as their kids. If that’s you, consider enlisting the assistance of a knowledgeable friend – or, even better, look into basic automotive systems and repair classes, which are frequently held at local community colleges. The more your son or daughter knows about how cars work, the less helpless they’ll be when something goes wrong with their car.

And not being helpless is another – arguably, better – way of staying safe.

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  1. The photo of the ‘crushed Smart car’ isn’t a Smart Fortwo. The rim in the photo has five lugs. A Smart Fortwo only has three. I believe it was a SUV that was crushed.

  2. “an underpowered car lacks the guts to pull into traffic efficiently – that is, safely – forcing other drivers to slam on the brakes or swerve to avoid rear-ending the slow-mover. ”

    I really don’t think there were to many cars produced in..well..ever.. in the modern era that is so underpowered as to be dangerous. If your forcing other drivers to slam on the brakes or swerve to avoid rear-ending you I’m afraid to say you are pulling out so late that even the most power full car would be a nuisance and dangerous on the road. Kids need to learn to relax, slow down and WAIT until there is sufficient distance before pulling out in front of people. The two most common and DEADLY maneuvers for new drivers and old drivers alike are pulling out in front of people or making
    left hand turns in front of people. Rant over, just my .02c, YMMV, ect ect

    • Hi Rick,

      What’s the “modern” era” Does a ’90s-era Geo Metro qualify? Heck, there are several brand-new vehicles that are marginal in terms of their ability to comfortably merge with traffic. Many cars built during the past 20 years fall into this category as well and when you factor in the weight of 2-3 passengers, as well as a tired engine (an older, higher-miles slow car) well… then you’ve got a car that can be a problem.

    • When I was seventeen and had already ruined my first car, a 1949 Ford coupe, and had already smashed the front of my second car, a 1953 Chevrolet Belair, I bought a third car, a 1947 Chrysler Windsor coupe. On the highway, it could lumber along at 75-80 quite nicely, but my brother and I could never get it to go from zero to 60 mph in less than 26 seconds! Ha!

  3. The love for laws such as child driver restrictions is the same love the KY AG has for blogger restrictions on John Rosemond. More Laws=$ for the state and a boot on the throat for you.

    Alanis Morissette – Ironic

    S.A.’s R.4.R.’s:
    1Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have. 2Never go outside the expertise of your people. 3Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy. 4Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules. 5Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. 6A good tactic is one your people enjoy. 7A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag. 8Keep the pressure on. Never let up. 9The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself. 10The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. 11If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive. 12The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. 13Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

    Saul Alinsky the father of community organizing

  4. @Garysco

    We need more elections to get the right people at the tables.
    Also, we should be able to vote for which kinds of tables they get to sit at.

    – Behold the power of democracy. It’s got electoralites! It’s got what peasants crave.

    • I have a real bumper sticker on my car with the picture of a crying baby
      “I am so scared. Big government please save me.”
      Gets some dirty looks, and some fists in the air. i love it.

          • Garysco, you burned it, right?… Or sold it?
            I almost wore one.
            I’m so very very glad I never did.
            I came this {-} close.
            I KNOW I could do all the shit they do.
            …Except blow people up and think nothing of it and that sort of thing.
            Thank God for the NAP, and Austrian economics, … and LRC!

        • Just to be anti-social I have another (on a removable magnetic base) on my old 94 Geo Metro. (Hey, the body is straight, it’s still one color, nice wheels and gets 45+ MPG so leave me alone!) First line: “.45 ACP” in big letters. Second line: “BECAUSE SHOOTING TWICE IS JUST SILLY”. Funny, since I put it there people don’t tailgate as close as before.

          • Garysco wrote, “since I put it there people don’t tailgate as close as before.”

            Ha! Ha! Fuck, man. Quit making me laugh!

            Also, I have renewed respect for those Geo Metro’s.
            I didn’t back in the Day, but I do now.

          • Eggscellent!

            And: Nothing wrong with the Metro (or any small/economy minded car). It’s the driver that makes the difference. Every day – literally, every damn day – I get stuck behind a Clover in a 300-plus hp “luxury sport” sedan or SUV, creeping away from green lights at almost walking speed, not noticing the light turned green, pacing the car in the next lane, forming a rolling roadblock… etc.

          • @Downshift – OK I’ll stop. Actually the little hatch back runs pretty good and has A/C. Funny thing is I negotiated it for $1,000.00 3 years ago from a guy who couldn’t get any takers Craigs_List. Threw some nice wheels and window tint on it and in the last 6 months I have had 3 people at gas stations ask if I want to sell it.

  5. Ideally we would raise the driving age to 18 as in most other industrialized countries. Many more people than I care to name have noticed that today’s teens are far less mature than teens of their age were, say, 30 or 40 years ago, and they truly have dumbed down. Under OSHA rules, one has to be 18 to operate hazardous equipment such as meat slicers and forklifts on the job, but we still allow 16–year-olds to drive motor vehicles that have the potential to cause far more harm and mayhem. It’s insane. In fact, I’d make the driving age 18 with a high school diploma or GED and 21 without.

    And ability to drive a stickshift should be mandatory. Eric’s point is right on, and the poster above who noted that driving a stick effectively eliminates any propensity to try to text while driving.

    My brother’s wife has two twin 18–year-olds, a boy and a girl, and he got the boy an older Hyundai with a stick. He is fixing a Ford Aspire to give the girl, but she’s pressing him to change the transmission from manual and auto. It’s revealing that women are less likely to be able to drive a stickshift and more likely to text while driving. It’s fairly obvious to all in the household that this is the girl’s real reason for wanting an automatic.

    One other note: avoid giving a new teen driver a full-sized pickup or any SUV. He/she is more likely to kill others in an accident when the truck overrides the other vehicle, and these are also more likely to flip over. I’ve known of stupid parents who would buy li’l reckless Jimmy one of these thinking he’d be safer. Neither he nor others on the road will.

    • “Ideally we would raise the driving age” ????!!!!
      “And ability to drive a stickshift should be mandatory”!!!!???
      “It’s insane. In fact, I’d make the driving age 18 with a high school diploma or GED and 21 without”???****###!!!

      Ideally someone will delete this post. And give your deleted post a clover to boot!

      O the inhumanity

      • Now, now, Tor…..let’s not hope for censorship. It’s far better to explain to the statist what an utter retard he is, while beating him over the head with youtube vids. He must be “refuted intensively” and flogged symbolically.

        Get him, old thing. Make an example of him.

        • You’re right again. I remember EK being a normal Mazda guy last visit. I might be some kind of anarcho-soup nazi who thinks he suffers for his libertarianism. “No freedom for you!”

          Van Gogh Syndrome

          Vincent van Gogh’s life is the expression of a deeply sensitive soul working uncompromisingly at the aggressive search for life’s authentic meaning.

          Van Gogh repudiated the scholasticism of 18th and 19th century Reformed Theology, the outdated caste-structured Dutch culture, and the inauthenticity of the church’s claims to represent Christ while lived high on the hog under carefully hidden wealthy Bourgeois patriarchalism.

          Vincent wanted none of it and would not back down on his radical notion of universal and unconditional self-determination, considered rank heresy in the theological tradition. The quest sickened and exhausted him, and in the end the quest shortened his life.
          – – – – –

          Van Gogh’s paintings come to life

          Hacking your lawnmower

    • The system as instituted today was designed and has achieved extended childhood. It has broken and damaged people. In the 1920s a 12 year old could drive and do so responsibly with much more difficult to operate cars than we have today.

      The automatic transmission is the root of evil in the automotive world. I become more convinced of it each day. I often say it in jest, but really, it is when given a little a thought. A manual transmission car demands focus in a way an automatic never ever will.

      • Actually, I think the extended adolescence is an accidental side effect.
        Mandatory education was all about keeping labor out of the workforce. For example: Post-WW2 was when the troops came home – and college became a must.
        Prior to that? High School became a must, for the same reason: Men returning from war. (i believe WW1 – but not sure, would have to look it up.)

        so – if there’s no goal to reach, you’ll end up a child (no hope, no direction, no life experience to gain knowledge or wisdom) – and that’s then going to cause the trends we see in society today.
        At the same time, it kept the wages “up” by restricting the labor pool (so now, the best you can hope for is generally a “Service Industry” position, which pays a high of $11/hr, and involves such important questions as, “Do you want fries with that?”)

        • Sadly no accident or side effect. The plan is keep all of us as children in a perpetual state of dumbed down entertainment play, while we let our betters and their TV “experts” be the adults. We are easier to manage that way.

          Ref: Albert Pike in Morals & Dogma – People who won’t use their ability to reason will be steak on the table.

          Ref: “The Anglo-American Establishment” (1981) by Council on Foreign Relations (the U.S.A. arm of The Royal Institute for International Affairs) historian Carroll Quigley.

          Both long and tedious texts, and institutions that direct our governments.

          • During the past two centuries when the peoples of the world were gradually winning their political freedom from the dynastic monarchies, the major banking families of Europe and America were setting up new dynasties of political control through international financial combines… these banking dynasties knew governments must have sources of revenue from which to borrow in times of emergency. They had knew that by providing such funds from their own private resources, they could make both kings and democratic leaders subservient to their will and command.

            Carroll Quigley in “Tragedy and Hope”




            Cecil Rhodes Quotes

            The world is parceled out, conquered and colonized. To think of these stars that you see overhead at night, these vast worlds which we can never reach. I would annex the planets if I could; I often think of that. It makes me sad to see them so clear and yet so far beyond my grasp.

            To and for the establishment, promotion and development of a Secret Society, the true aim and object whereof shall be for the extension of British rule throughout the world, the perfecting of a system of emigration from the United Kingdom, and of colonization by British subjects of all lands where the means of livelihood are attainable by energy, labor and enterprise, and especially the occupation by British settlers of the entire Continent of Africa, the Holy Land, the Valley of the Euphrates, the Islands of Cyprus and Crete, the whole of South America, the Islands of the Pacific not heretofore possessed by Great Britain, the whole of the Malay Archipelago, the seaboard of China and Japan, the ultimate recovery of the United States of America as an integral part of the British Empire, the inauguration of a system of Colonial representation in the Imperial Parliament which may tend to weld together the disjointed members of the Empire and, finally, the foundation of so great a Power as to render wars impossible, and promote the best interests of humanity.

            I contend that we are the first race in the world, and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race…If there be a God, I think that what he would like me to do is paint as much of the map of the world British Red as possible.

            To be born English is to win first prize in the lottery of life.

            Mark Twain on Cecil Rhodes Quote:
            I admire him, I frankly confess it; and when his time comes I shall buy a piece of the rope for a keepsake.

      • Hi Brent,

        Amen. A few years back, I was invited up to Hemmings Motor News for a party – and drive. Hemmings has a collection of old cars. Including a selection of Model T and Model A Fords, all stock. Drive one of these – or rather, try to drive one of them – and you will get a window into why today’s drivers are, as a rule, so inept. It took skill to get a T moving, let alone moving smoothly. A series of complex tasks is involved – perhaps the most daunting of these, to a novice, is dealing successfully with an unsynchronized manual transmission. A Clover simply could not drive a Model T. It culled the herd.

    • Some of you failed to comprehend my point in your rush to attack the messenger and engage in childish Alinsky–style name-calling and ad hominem attacks. Let’s go over why I say the driving age should be raised to 18.

      Teens today are different from those of decades past. They have been told all their lives that they’re special, they’re never wrong, and nothing that goes wrong is ever their fault. Their overall attitudes and general lack of responsibility are the result. They are the very kind of people we don’t want behind the wheel, at least until they get some real-world experience and some semblance of maturity. This represents a sea change. They have a completely different mindset from that you had when you started driving years ago. The sheer number coming from single-parent households doesn’t help with any of this either.

      You might think your teen kids aren’t like this. You might be right. But understand that if you are right, your kids are distinct exceptions by today’s standards.

      One such result is exemplified by the poster Brian above, who uses ADHD as an excuse for not wanting to drive a stickshift. If he were to cause an accident, he seems likely to use that as an excuse then too. “It’s not my fault I hit that carload of nuns! It’s teh ADHDs!!!!1!11!!”

      The mindset about responsibility is demonstrated by the Occupy crowd that wants its massive student loan debts for getting worthless liberal arts degrees forgiven. You could also look at the fiasco Mitsubishi had a few years back with its insane zero–zero–zero financing promotion ($0 down, 0% financing, $0 in payments for the first 12 months) geared toward young adults, many of whom simply walked away from the cars after the year was over and payments were about to begin. “What, I’m supposed to start paying you for this car now? Like, no way, dude!” That company wrote off nearly $500 million after the dust settled.

      Laws explicitly against texting while driving targeted teens first in some areas, because they are more likely to view driving as just a chore you do to get from point A to point B while texting (or talking on a cell phone, websurfing on a smart phone, etc.). Numerous states have passed ever more stringent laws on young drivers that include longer periods behind the wheel before receiving a solo license, restrictions on number of teens in the vehicle while driving, and so forth. Ask yourself why.

      Even insurance companies are noticing this deterioration in driving skill among newbies, and some are trying to require as a condition of getting auto insurance that teen drivers use a monitor like Progressive’s heavily advertised “Snapshot”—but no discount for the kids, of course.

      John Rosemond, a well known psychologist who advocates an authoritarian style of parenting, whom many of you would applaud, has himself advocated raising the driving age to 18. Given current trends with restrictions on younger drivers, this is probably coming anyway.

      I want drivers with maturity and responsibility, including as stated in my previous post showing an ability to drive a stickshift. Today’s teens and many younger adults have a mindset that precludes both. Don’t trash the messenger for pointing this out and advocating an obvious change that would simply bring US law into line with that of most other countries.

      The days when a 14–year-old could be trusted to drive a motor vehicle limited distances during the day as some states allowed in the past are long gone. We must account for this difference, and I say we have no choice but to do so. That doesn’t make me a clover by a long shot. Quite the opposite.

      • @ekrampitzjr I cannot disagree at all with your description of the problems, and logic for a short term fix.

        I went to town today, and even middle aged drivers found it difficult and bewildering to navigate their vehicles in a shopping center parking lot. Slow and dim-witted comes to mind.

        I am older and grew up in a time when acting responsibly was just expected. Everyone except the always-with-us-10% knew and abided by those norms. I (and everyone else) have suspicions as to how and why we have arrived at this time of idiocracy, but none the less we have.

        In my parents time Dr. Spock told millions of parents to just let their children run the show, and that would make them better adults. It Has not worked out well.

        The problem now is for us to define who “we are” as culture, what we expect from our children and young adults and who is responsible for who(m?). If that definition cannot be found and enforced we are doomed to be policed peons of the powerful. They certainly know what they want and expect from their heirs.

        The “1776” revolution changed the historical norm with new concepts in “personal” power, “liberty” and commensurate “responsibilities”. Those liberties were “ours” for only a short time before the powerful started taking it back a piece at a time. It is the frog in the pot metaphor. Europe still has not accepted those concepts and operates as a modified serf state. Maybe we as a country are doomed to serfdom, it is so much easier that way.

        • “Slow and dim-witted comes to mind. ”

          I see it every time I drive. My theory is that it’s the drugs that most middle aged people are on. I’m 60 and I don’t take anything except a few supplements but most people I know in their 50s or older are on several different prescription meds. I know plenty of people in their 50s who are so overmedicated that they act 80.

          Maybe it’s because I get all my info from reading and I refuse to watch TV or listen to radio. Once in a while I’m stuck having to wait for some car repair I can’t do myself, and the waiting roon has a TV. A few minutes exposure is all it takes to get bombarded with prescription drug ads, and the TV shows seem to always have some propaganda about the “healthcare” industry.

          Maybe that’s why people are so fuckin worried about their “healthcare”, because they’re constantly being propagandized by their TVs on the need to go see a doctor. Unless I’m bleeding and can’t get it stopped or have a broken bone, or need some kind of growth cut off, I stay away from my doctor.

          Keep an eye out for those overmedicated dimwits. The roads are just crawling with them.

          • Ed,

            Ditto that!

            The cattle out there do seem medicated. The Thorazine Shuffle! Addled/half-asleep… and in no hurry.

            We, too, do not watch TeeVee. I could not stand the tsunami of “ask your doctor about” – and all the other scheisse that streamed into our den from that got-damned idiot box.

            I’m mid-40s and can remember a world in which going to the doctor, medicine (what they call “health care” today) was for most people who weren’t old people an incidental, occasional and peripheral concern. Today, it seems as though “health care” – sickness, medicine and doctoring – is all most people think about. Or think about way too much.

            Meanwhile, the average person appears – to me – to be grossly unhealthy. Every third person I see is significantly overweight (30-plus pounds) and every fourth or fifth severely, morbidly obese (70-100 pounds overweight). Obviously sedentary. Looking 10-20 years older than their chronological age. Haggard. Shuffling.

            It’s quite something. They – the “health care” industry (and that’s the right word) – have succeeded in convincing people it’s normal for people under 60 to be popping a variety of (expensive) pills in order to cure ailments that are, to a great extent, purely the result of lifestyle choices entirely under their control.

          • Part of the problem WRT TV is that it’s mostly a female/gay ghetto. Most men DO more, and watch less. And of what men do watch, they’re less interested in “teh DRAMA” or the interpersonal relationshits (not a typo) – more into shows ABOUT cars, or tanks, or guns, or sports – things where something is DONE.

            Advertising sells to an audience; women spend more on health, AND account for something like 87% (going from memory of a marketing class a while back) of discretionary spending. That’s volume and dollars. Also part of why men are almost universally depicted as idiots and helpless – even the CHILDREN know better. It’s a female figurative kick in the balls to “TEH PATRIARCHY.”

            Women want equality – let THEM pay the higher medical insurance! (Men pay higher car insurance, after all..) Let THEM carry heavy objects, and hold doors for themselves.

            Anyway – The comsumer dictates the advertising, and woman eats that sh*t up – and gets a big ego boost from some of these commercials, too.

            Give them the gift of solitude.
            Same with TV.
            (Even though I watch some TV – I’m usually on a strict “diet” of crap, if the TV is on. I’m not watching willingly – I’d rahter be playing Gears of War, or going to the gym. But TV is her constant companion. After 7 years together, she doesn’t need it to go to sleep, at least… Though she often keeps ME awake instead… Can’t win, when you pick a “winner”. )

          • Not just emdicated- developmentally impaired as well. (It’s a known side-effect, I’m not joking.)

            The same drugs they demonize in the anti-drug commercials? WE GIVE THEM TO CHILDREN FOR ADHD AND HYPERACTIVITY!
            Adderol IS SPEED!

            And the latest commercial I saw is a “time-lapse” of a drug-imbibing pre-teen / teen… who is supposedly showing the cognitive impairment of taking drugs, telling us how it damages the frontal lobes and makes it hard to concentrate on subjects and remember… Stuff….

            Because, if a drug addles the brain, but you have a prescription for it – THAT is A-OK! but if you do the NATURAL (unpatentable) version of ANYTHING, THAT is EVIL and will lead you to FIRE AND BRIMSTONE HELL!!!!
            Funny – I think it’s the other way around. Getting medicated is an affront to free will. An affront to nature. And to be avoided at all costs. Doctors, despite the ego and narcissism, are NOT gods.
            Further – some are outright frauds.

      • ekrampitzjr, what about all those drivers who are not different from those of decades past?
        Why would you penalize them for the dimwits in their age bracket?

        Seems to me you’re just trying to justify dumbing down a generation.

        You might say, “Teens today are different from those of decades past.”

        I say, responsibility defines a person and gives them a chance.

        There were plenty of idiots in my generation, and yours too, does that define everyone?
        Al-bet our masters think so.

        Pardon me for saying this, but I think you’re a pussy. A.K.A. a wussy. A.K.A. a wimp.

        You should pay heed to the likes of Ed.

        ekrampitzjr, you mention Progressive Insurance. They are weasel mealy mouth bastard S.O.B.’s. A monitor like Progressive’s heavily advertised “Snapshot” is a Big-Brother shit. Fuck that lizard! That lizard is the no good sell out Warren Buffett. If that tells ya anything.

        ekrampitzjr recommends John Rosemond, a well known psychologist.

        Well Whoop T Doo!

        Ain’t that just grand you love the psychologist?

        If you’ve heard of Jon Rappoport, you’d know psychologist are just a bunch of shit-for-brains know-nothings.

        You want drivers with maturity and responsibility? Well hells bells, pull Every driver over then, because None of them have that! Well, how do you know? Is there a test?

        I won’t call you an asshole because of all that other bullshit you wrote, I’ll do so because of this, “bring US law into line with that of most other countries”

        Fucking New World Order, right?

        Go fuck yourself!

        You say, “The days when a 14–year-old could be trusted to drive a motor vehicle limited distances during the day as some states allowed in the past are long gone.”

        As if human nature is different today?
        As if there are no 14 yr old’s who can do so?
        As if our forefathers didn’t start families at that age?

        Yeah, you’re a TOTAL Clover, and a boot licking fascist.
        So go love yourself.

        • Word of advice: stop with the name calling and the foul language. When I see childish rants such as this one, I have to wonder if in fact you are 14 years old. If you disagree with my point, fine, debate or refute me, but the rest of it is utterly childish and does not “win” an argument, except in the minds of the immature.

          I should note that I despise the Progressive “Snapshot” and similar devices, and disagree with forcing their use as a condition of getting auto insurance even for young drivers. Now to address the point you seem to have been trying to make to refute me. The f-bombs and other silliness obfuscated whatever you were saying.

          Only in the most sheltered areas, or in very conservative families, are teens as they were 25 or more years ago. Things have changed, and changed dramatically. It is universal. The changes I have seen, and people about my age I know around the country have commented on, are astounding. Even my Canadian pen pal has commented similarly on conditions there. The mindset of people I grew up with was light-years away from today’s norms. Yeah, there were dumbasses and irresponsible untrustworthy people then, but not that many.

          But also to address one comment you made: no, for the most part, our forefathers were not starting families at 14. This is utter folklore and seems to be spreading on some men’s forums by members who have some fantasy that they could have been marrying and banging 14–year-old jailbait 100+ years ago.

          The average age of puberty was over 16 back in the 19th Century. Many aged 15 then would still physically have been a child. Family Bibles, church records, older US Census data, and other available documentation from the period and later universally place the average age of marriage at 20+ for men and women. People have researched this repeatedly, in part because of the folklore. Until the age of majority was lowered to 18 about 40 years ago, in Virginia you had to be 18 to marry with parental consent and 21 without, later lowered to 16 and 18 respectively.

          Jerry Lee Lewis married his 13–year-old cousin in the 1950s, and Loretta Lynn allegedly married just before her 14th birthday (she now says she was 15). They were mid–20th Century exceptions, and Lewis was harshly criticized here and, later, hounded out of Britain during a concert tour for marrying someone so young.

          One of the big problems today is ever earlier sexualization and sexual activity of youth and young teens. This was not normal in the past and cannot be considered good now. All of it is one of many factors in the changes in teens over the years that I have seen, and many older people have no real clue about how younger people in society have changed for the worse. (This results in elderly jurors sending people to prison for decades on children’s false accusations of sexual abuse, for example.)

          So you are incorrect on that count (forefathers with families at 14). You might well be incorrect on much of the rest of your comments. We can disagree on opinions, that’s fine. One thing is certain: agree with me or not, rants like your on this site are not doing Eric any favors. That is the kind of thing powers that be would use as an excuse for forcing a site to shut down—and we’ve already seen Gaggme try this through the back door on Eric.

          There also exists the possibility that you are actually a troll trying to create that result. It has happened on other sites. One men’s forum was completely killed and obliterated from the net by the parent administrators after obvious trolls, all “anonymous”, posted repeated responses on different threads about wanting to harm or kill women—even after the forum moderators issued repeated warnings and banned some people based on IP addresses. Then it happened at another men’s forum, same pattern. Forewarned is forearmed.

          So cool it with the personal attacks and profanity-filled rants. I’m about 80% in agreement with much of the libertarian perspective expressed here, but that other 20% is from realizing how some people can’t or won’t play by the rules, or accept responsibilities to go with their rights or freedoms. That groups includes all too many teens and young adults today. And Eric, you should consider enforcing some sort of guidelines to keep debate civil and minimize the possibility of further targeting of this fine site. And all of you should realize that this site is a target.

          • ek, face it: passing laws will solve none of the things you see as problems. Making rules for everything is the mark of an authoritarian. More laws on top of all the laws we already have, will just hand more power to the people who already have too much of it.

            It’s much more likely that this site is targeted because the prevailing attitude here is that government, at all levels, is too authoritarian. Sites aren’t targeted because people say “shit” or “fuck”, they’re targeted because people say “police state” and “psychopathic cops”.

            Interesting that you close your post with an appeal to the site owner to make rules so you aren’t offended by someone else’s language. That’s authoritarian thinking. You could do better if you tried.

          • Dear Ed,


            The self-appointed “ruling class” doesn’t give a rat’s ass about vulgarity, profanity, and obscenity.

            Actually, panem et circenses, with their attendant vulgarity, profanity, and obscenity, help divert public awareness from their political machinations.

            They care only about their CONTROL over other people. Everything else is secondary or tertiary in importance.

            That control depends exclusively on the Myth of Authority, which asserts that you owe other mortals no better than you, obedience and tribute, because they “Represent the Government.”

            Shatter this myth, and the jig is up. Game over.

          • Hi EK,

            I agree that, in general, kids today appear to be less responsible than (in general) kids were in decades prior. That said, I nonetheless have trouble imposing general restrictions on that basis – for the same reason I’m opposed to restricting my right (or your right) to posses a gun on account of the fact that there are a fair number of other people out there who cannot be trusted to handle a gun responsibly.

            There has to be a better way. One that does not punish the responsible before they’ve given any reason to judge them as being irresponsible – while also dealing with those who do act irresponsibly.

            I think the problem (which once identified, contains the solution) is that the system does not hold the irresponsible accountable. Instead, it layers ever more restrictions and controls on the responsible. The gun thing is aptly analogous. Deranged, Ritalin-addled kid shoots up a school… they pass laws denying people who had nothing to do with it and who have never in their lives given any indication they’re dangerous people or even slightly irresponsible people their right to own a gun. Idiot Barbie 17-year-old yapping on her sail fawn while obliviously barreling through a red light in her mom’s SmooVee kills someone – and they make it illegal for the responsible 17-year-old to drive until he’s 21.

            Instead, how about swift and certain – and severe – punishment for anyone who harms another as the result of an irresponsible or criminal act?

            For instance, if a person handles a gun irresponsibly (let alone criminally). I’d endorse a mandatory minimum 20 years without chance of parole for mere possession of a firearm during the commission of any crime, in addition to whatever the sentence might be for the crime itself (e.g., assault/battery, robbery, etc.). Actually threaten to use the gun – and you’re gone for the next 30 years. Use the gun (discharge it) and it’s 40. Shoot someone (other than self-defense) and it’s life. Kill someone – and it’s the needle or the chair.

            Betcha “gun crime” would all but evaporate within five years of such a law being implemented – and without mauling the rights of people who’d done nothing to deserve it.

            Similarly, as regards driving. Cause a wreck – be held fully and personally responsible for all damages. If it’s egregious, throw ’em in jail. But leave the ones whose driving cannot be faulted in peace.

            I’d actually favor no state-established minimums for driving age whatsoever. There are 14-year-olds who can drive competently – and as or more responsibly than some 30-year-olds. Why should they be punished/controlled merely because others in their age cohort aren’t competent or responsible?

            I understand that people – some people – will abuse liberty, that the freedom to act entails the risk that some people will act irresponsibly.

            But – paraphrasing Jefferson – I prefer the risk that comes with liberty than giving up liberty to chase the unicorn of a risk-free society.

            PS: I have no issue with exercising prudence or caution based on valid generalizations. For instance, I would tend to be more cautious around an obviously teenaged driver, simply because it’s valid to be more wary of teenaged drivers as a general class. Just as it’s perfectly reasonable to be more on alert when one encounters a group of young black men. But in neither case do I favor legal sanction/control of individuals based on the generality.

  6. Question: what car, by it’s mere presence alone, makes you take your foot off the accelerator and focus on your driving?

    The Ford Crown Victoria.

    After my last round of repairs on my 2001 Grand Am, I’ve decided to run it another 10k to 20k miles and replace it with a used Interceptor, i.e. Crown Vic.

    In the back of my mind, I’ve been thinking that my next car might end up as the car my daughter drives back and forth to school. For a while I was thinking about a light duty pickup, as my car’s second responsibility, after getting me to work and back, is hauling building materials from home improvement stores. The nice thing about a short cab truck for a teenager: no back seat passengers to distract them.

    Now I’m partial to the crown vic. For myself, it’s just about the most practical car I could buy without being under-sized or under-powered. For a teenager, it inspires every other driver on the road to exhibit greater caution. The drawback is the spacious backseat, but I suppose I could always remove it when I pass it down.

  7. Wait until they are 18. Gift them the money on their bank account. Let them buy the car and subscribe insurance with their money. You’ll not be liable on your house for the inevitable problems. That happened to one of my friend. Their daughter had a simple collision on an immigrant’s car with her parents’ German SUV. They smelled the money, complained about neck pain and sued for $ 500,000. They will certainly not get it all but it’s been two years in hell and a lot of legal fees.

    • Hi Dick,

      You’ve brought up a very important issue – the liability issue (for parents) as regards minor children driving.

      Might be worth a separate article.

      Kudos, sir!

  8. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.

    Thomas Paine, The Crisis.

  9. To This I say BS. This is exactly the wrong attitude. Learning in an underpowered car develops and hones one’s ability to milk the power curve. I learned to drive in NYC in a 36 hp VW bug. Now it is true I had some expert tutelage from my father and older brothers, but learning how to take maximum advanttage of handling and straighten the curve for maximum speed on those old cloverleafs leading onto the parkways, with no merge lane and traffic humming along bumper to bumper at 50+ MPH was quick and necessary. Ditto learning how to pass by dropping back, timing your approach and swinging out exposing yourself to oncoming traffic for the least amount of time.

    BTW this is also true in airplanes. learning aerobatic maneuvers in an underpowered plane makes you execute them precisely, since you have no extra power to ‘power through’ your mistakes.
    At 68 it amazes me that people in turbo BMW’s will follow a slow vehicle forever because they can’t pass, and I go by them both in my Honda Fit.

    • Dear Paul,

      I don’t presume to speak for anyone else, but I too learned to drive in old 60s era Beetles.

      For me, it was a great learning experience. It forced me to learn to make maximum use of the limited performance I had on tap.

      Would this be true for current youth? Would it be more like throwing them in the deep end of the pool and letting them drown? Can’t say for sure.

      But it was not a problem for me. It was a benefit.

      Honda Fit. Nice car! I like all kinds of cars, as long as they have character. I like muscle cars. I also like cleverly designed econoboxes like the Fit, the Mazda 2, and of course the more upscale Mini.

      • Morning, Bevin!

        One thing that’s different today is the the average car is a lot quicker than it was back in the ’60s or ’70s (and ’80s, too). A current “grocery getter” family car like an Accord or Camry with a V-6 can run 0-60 in the six second bracket – muscle car acceleration, by the standards of the late ’60s. Eight or so seconds to 60 is pretty much the norm for a current economy car.

        That means driving a car like an old Beetle in today’s traffic is much more challenging than it was back in the day – when the typical car, though quicker than the Beetle for sure, was much slower than the typical car is today.

        Another factor, Then vs. Now, to take into account as regards a new/teen driver:

        The skill of the average driver is today objectively lower than it was 20 or 30 years ago (due to a variety of factors). They don’t, for instance, understand that a car like an old Beetle needs more time to get going; they’re likely to crowd the driver of such a car, misjudge its capacity to merge – and so on.

        Now, a driver with some experience – and some skill – can compensate; can handle a car like an old Beetle in today’s driving environment. But I wouldn’t recommend such a car for a first-time/teenaged driver.

    • I had a friend, he died because his underpowered car didn’t get out of the way of a semi coming down a steep of hill. All he had to do was hit the pedal to the metal, that is, if he was in a car that had power.
      He wasn’t the mechanical sort. He didn’t ride dirt bikes with us. So maybe that was a factor? He didn’t anticipate correctly and his car couldn’t compensate for his failure.
      An underpowered car might be ok for some types of fellas, with the right kind of instruction, and a dash of luck. But I wouldn’t say an underpowered car is the right thing for an inexperienced driver.

      I’ve had some close calls myself, where a V-8 made all the difference in the world. Your mileage varies of course.

      That’s just my take.

      • I forgot to mention, my friend was 16 at the time.
        If it matters.
        I think another friend met a similar fate at the same spot. A couple of other young drivers soon thereafter.

        The townspeople got real mad at the hill, semis, and young drivers.

        The semi drivers (mostly farmers hauling grain) told everybody who would listen that they couldn’t stop their trucks on such a steep grade in a short amount of time. No one listened to them for years..
        Finally someone recognized the problem was having an intersection at the bottom of steep hill (where ice and snow often collected) and they replaced the faulty gooberment design with a slightly better designed cloverleaf.
        I’m not aware of a single accident at that spot since the redesign.

        [Was that worth typing? Idk.]

        • A classic cloverism, pulling out expecting other vehicle drivers to slow. This is what makes driving something with poor braking performance scary. So many people drive in this manner, putting their fate in the hands of others.

    • Thought about this a bit and have decided to agree with Eric. Mostly. With some exception where I agree with you.

      I once out accelerated an Aston Martin Vantage driver with my bicycle. Soon after I encountered the same driver and out handled him with my Maverick. While that is an extreme example I believe the vast majority of these drivers came from underpowered cars initially and were people who never explored the limits of those underpowered cars. Thus they are stuck at a pretty low level of performance no matter what they drive.

      To get the benefit of an underpowered car one must push its limits. Thus if the teenager in question is one who will push the limits of a car, then the underpowered car is probably best. Such a person will do fine with the underpowered car but might kill himself with something with a lot of power.

      Now take a teenager who doesn’t push the limits. This one is going to become an unsafe driver in an underpowered car. To make it with an underpowered car one has to find where the limits are, push them, develop strategy. Someone who is timid and not even willing to push incrementally to the limits will never do that. They’ll become that driver in a well performing car later on that can’t out accelerate a box truck.

      Driver’s ed in the USA is designed to produce cloverish timid, scared drivers who never explore the limits. It’s fear based conditioning. Those teenagers it doesn’t work on or wears off on should probably get the underpowered cars.

  10. Agreed on all points. I have 2 kids, 12 and almost 14. Both are learning to drive (on private property) and all of our cars are stick shifts. If you can’t use a clutch in our family, you can’t drive, period.
    A few more pros with stick shifts, it is much harder to text while shifting, it acts as a deterrent to impaired driving as you are likely to stall and not get anywhere, and it makes it much less likely that your kids friends will end up driving their cars….

  11. Different strokes for different folks, Eric. 🙂 I drove 300 or more miles a day, six days a week and all over southern California, in all kinds of traffic and conditions for 14 years… in a Geo Metro (well, actually two of them. I wore one of them out). In 50+ years of driving, I’ve had exactly one “ticket” and one crash… a sandstorm in the desert eliminated my vision. I walked away from that crash with zero injuries. I had to accommodate the limitations of the underpowered vehicle, yes… but that can be done safely. You simply have to be realistic about your expectations and not attempt to drive it as if it were a muscle car.

    Would I suggest a Metro for a teen? No, not at all. They are actually rather fragile and must be cared for properly to do the job intended. I can think of worse choices, but the teen wouldn’t likely be interested in any of them. 🙂

    The most important part of the deal has been mentioned many times here. The teen must be prepared to work and actually pay for the vehicle and the maintenance, as well as the fuel. When young people are “GIVEN” things, they very often do not appreciate them or use them safely. If they have real skin in the game, they have a better chance to survive and grow up to be self responsible in every other area of their lives.

    And that starts long before they are ready to drive a car. My boys earned their first bicycles, their first guns and just about everything else they seriously wanted. Gifts were the small tokens of our appreciation and admiration for their self reliance. Worked out very well for all of us.

    • Hi Mama,

      I, too, drove a number of tiny, underpowered cars in the past. In the hands of an experienced driver who knows how to adjust/compensate for their deficiencies (by, for example, learning to anticipate the need to build speed, maintaining momentum in the ebb and flow of traffic, etc,) they’re ok and can even be fun. I just wouldn’t recommend such a car for a new/inexperienced driver.

      Agreed completely on “skin the game.”

      • Well, I don’t know how many of your readers would consider a mere WOMAN to be an experienced and safe driver… but I’ll take that. LOL

        My youngest son first learned to drive in my Honda N600 – long before the Geos. Then he drove my mother’s Nash Rambler station wagon. We had a ball on the desert back roads.

        My husband was a mechanic, and was always buying cars to “fix,” so I drove a lot of different things, going back and forth. Imagine the fun of adjusting from the Honda to driving a big Dodge Tradesman van… and back again, all in one day. You really learned to pay attention and not get cute. Or, in the case of the Honda, not get impatient to be anywhere in any great hurry… especially up hill!

  12. My father bought my brother and I old crappy broken down corvettes when we were highschoolers around 2000. My brother got a 72 I found in a garage on blocks, I got an 85 that needed some love (poor 80s corvettes get no love). The deal was he would help us learn to fix them, and we would pay him back over time. We also were threatened that any increases in insurance would be on our tabs not his.

    It worked out. We learned to keep our cars operational. They were never trustworthy enough for us to be able to go too far from home, so he didnt have to worry about us running off. We couldn’t do shady things in the non-existent backseat with lady-friends. We also never did stupid crap like race them because we both knew how painful it was to rebuild the engines, and knew that if we got a ticket or wreck and our insurance went up, it would wipe out our money.

    We both still have our vettes today and will never part with them.

    Donated some money. You should consider doing a kickstarter to keep the site alive for a few months while you work out your options. Maybe pass out some tshirts with it for high donations so there is a little physical kickback (and long term advertising for your site).

    • Thanks for the support, Phil!

      On the cars: Your Dad sounds like a right-thinking kind of guy!

      I like mid-’80s Corvettes a lot myself. Just modern enough to be – well, modern – but not too modern. The TPI 350, IIRC, was pretty easy (and cheap) to hop-up, being a standard Chevy small block from the intake plenum down. The big weakness was the airflow potential of the TPI system. It looked cool – but IIRC – was the major limiting factor as far as hp production. Still, the 350 was torquey and made about as much power as a late ’70s L-82 350 (220 hp). And ifmemory serves, a circa ’85 Corvette could do close to 150 on top…..

  13. Great article, Eric. Thanks! I have a daughter that is about ready for a learner’s permit. We’ve always told her that she will have to learn to drive a stick before she’s allowed to have an automatic.

    Sorry to hear about your problems with Googhul. I’m making a point now to try and not use their products, search engines, etc.

  14. Both of my children had to drive a Mercedes 240D for the first year, I guess it fails on the ability to accelerate, and it was an automatic, but it was safe in most ways.

  15. I owned a taxi/limo/delivery company for 10 years. As a rule I only hired people who could drive stick,even though only the maintenance truck and a 69 Chevy van had manuals. In 10 years we had zero accidents, minus a couple of deer hits. People who learn on a manual transmission seem to be better drivers for life, even if it’s been 20 years since they last drove stick. The best drivers we had also had motorcycle endorsements or CDL’s.

    • Ditto on both, Cap’n!

      Especially in re the “M” endorsement. A person capable of riding a motorcycle is a person who has demonstrated higher-order skills than those possessed by the typical non-rider driver.

      Much of what it takes to ride a bike competently enhances one’s ability to drive competently as well.

  16. I learned on a 4 speed manual Dodge Omni. I got fairly good at running the gears, but then dad replaced the clutch (this car had seen both mom and my sister learn to drive stick before me). I remember sitting in the parking lot of the high school after band practice trying to pull out of the parking spot (with all my friends laughing). I learned a valuable lesson about getting the feel of a clutch that day though.

  17. Both daughters first vehicles are/were F-250’s. Oldest daughter learned to drive & drove to school a ’76 F-250 w/360 V-8 & 4 on the floor. Youngest learned to drive in & is still driving a ’63 F-250 w/223 I6 & 3 on the tree. Besides being safe, solid, full framed vehicles, there’s the added advantage of it being damned near impossible to text & drive. (Piloting these beasts through town requires use of all limbs) Plus you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work on them.

  18. I have ADHD, driving a manual stick takes an extra toll on my traffic attention span. I disagree that even a potentially distracted teenager, or just inexperienced teen driver will pay more attention to their driving due to the intentional adding to a driver’s workload by making them coordinate the clutch-stick-gas/clutch-brake routines. Relating to when you mentioned the car’s 0 to 60 MPH time, “go” should mean GO! and likewise “stop” should mean STOP! ; poor, inexperienced, or “lazy” stickshift users ( and I would say that includes most drivers at least some of the time ) don’t need any additional obstacles added to stepping on the gas or brake. Alluding to timid drivers as you did, you should think about how much space and time an inexperienced/insecure new driver may think they need to enter traffic if they feel slow to getting into gear(s) and up to speed.

    • Hi Brian,

      No offense meant, but I have my doubts about ADHD being other than a manufactured “illness” – courtesy of Big Pharma.

      Learning to focus on anything – reading or driving or whatever – for any length of time is for most people not a natural skill but a habit that must be developed.

      The system merely pathologizes normal (in young people) fidgety-ness and lack of concentration – then dopes them up with various high-cost (and high side-effect) medications.

      I’m certain I would be “diagnosed” as ADHD were I in high school today.

      But thank god, I went to high school yesterday – before the “disease” of ADHD was invented.

    • No offense, but if you don’t believe you can muster the very little bit of coordination it takes to drive a stickshift, and you’re going to use phony-ass “ADHD” as an excuse for poor driving (and between the lines, you are), do us all a favor and DON’T DRIVE AT ALL.

      ADHD = overindulgent and underdiscplined as a kid.

      • ADHD is a fraud, even the doctor who diagnosed it admitted so… 😛

        An excuse to sell drugs, just like any other pusher – and they don’t take NO for an answer.

        • Hi Jean,

          ADHD is a fraud – and worse than merely a fraud. Because it pathologizes the normal fidgetyness that boys especially exhibit when they are bored by mindless drudgery such as rote memorization regimes in government schools. It is a truly Soviet means of transforming disinterest/apathy in the state’s program into a medical condition. You are ill – teched in the head – not merely rebelling against their bullshit.

          • And the cure is (literally) poison.

            So are several other things we’ve used as “tests” and standards.
            Ames test? (Carcinogens) Dr. Ames denounced it.
            Food pyramid? Made by farmers for fattening up animals.
            (And the more recent version, meant for fattenning US up, and dumbing us down – just like Mr. Kellog’s cereal: he wanted to control the “impure lusts” of evil humanity, and was a vegetarian. Remove red meat = remove cholesterol = no testosterone – so, yes, no “lust”, but also less muscle, less manliness, )


    • Here’s what I was taught to drive on, a 1970s Ford Maverick with manual everything, drum brakes, and three speed with a column shifter. It was archaic then in the late 1980s even more so now. And I still own such a car, but the brakes will be changing.

      If an MT scares you what you need is to teach yourself how to drive. I don’t say that to be mean, I say it because that’s what I did. I didn’t get my license until after I was 16. Why? Because I didn’t feel I knew what I was doing until later. But I taught myself. The fear based driver’s ed did quite a number on me. More harm than good. I learned on my own, not just how to drive but every system of a car.

      Also, as far as I am concerned, as someone who if I were child today would be drugged and who fears if he gets near the medical establishment will be drugged as an adult I feel ADHD is a made up thing in order to drug children.

      ADHD is not having an attention span for the state’s schooling. For not behaving the way the state and its intellectual class says children should under conditions that are simply not good for children. Just by the way you wrote your comment I think if you sat down to teach yourself something you want to learn you’ll have no problem with your attention span.

      BTW, The slow pokes to get going at traffic lights almost universally drive AT cars. MT cars do not like to do that crawl, it’s actually a later learned skill to make an MT car do that.

      I’ll repeat, none of this is to be critical or mean…. just sharing what I think based on my own experiences.

  19. My fantasy: running into a Google Smartcar with a 1962 Oldsmobile Super 88. What a great hood ornament that would make.

    • Good stuff, Ross!

      I’ll raise you one:

      How about taking an old Kawasaki two-stroke triple out and positioning yourself – and its exhaust stream – directly in front of the “green” car of your choice?

      Mine has both pre-mix and the factory oil-injection.

      Can’t be too cautious when it comes to protecting 40-year-old crankshafts!

  20. High winds – the slipstream of a passing semi – sometimes try to push these cars into the next lane (or a tree) before the driver has time to react.

    Actually, that slip stream is more likely to pull a car towards whatever’s causing it through a venturi action between the vehicles, in what’s called the “canal boat effect”. It’s even more serious when you’re on a motor cycle.

    Talking of motor cycles, adequate power is important there for another reason as well: it takes energy to pull one upright again after leaning into a curve.

    Way back in the ’30s a bank robbery gang got caught when their driver bugged out early and they hijacked another car, only to find that it had been fitted with a governor to protect the buyer’s elderly father.

    Non-structural rust, faded paint and dented fenders are no big deal.

    Not in themselves, but they are “an outward sign of inward grace”, a statement about the respect given to other things. Even on new cars this can matter: I learned from an MG owning girlfriend and her fellow MG owners that an MG with plastic bumpers was from a later period when the marketing men and accountants had elbowed the engineers aside, and so those MGs had works that weren’t as good as earlier MGs with chromed bumpers.

    “Hooptie issue”? Please translate this into real money from your barbarous dialect.

    The more your son or daughter knows about how cars work, the less helpless they’ll be when something goes wrong with their car.

    Never mind emergencies, even in ordinary situations knowing what you’re doing to the works makes you more familiar with what you need to do with the controls to get what you want out of the car – and with what you can’t get out of it. (That’s another reason not to have an automatic transmission, particularly since stalling a manual a few times while learning will teach you some of that – and that practical knowledge is helped further by knowing from theory what a synchromesh does.) See also BrentP’s remarks on the subject.

    This may only reflect British experience and driving needs, but I really prefer the idea of people only learning to drive at 17 and then not driving for real until 21 or so. At 17, you have a little more common sense and the right physique as well as being more sensible and having the spare time to learn new tricks easily, but until 21 – in Britain – you don’t usually have a genuine need for your own transport (I did slightly know a girl at university who had a moped, but most people settled for bicycles or walking). I gather that in the U.S.A. the whole infrastructure has been made so car dependent that even younger people can’t cope without cars, which strikes me as creating an unnecessary risk; at 15 going on 16 I was given aircraft familiarisation by the RAF, and looking back on it I would probably have done precisely the wrong things if an emergency had come up, even though I was given the best preparation.

    • Morning, PM,

      “Hooptie” is indeed barbarous slang for what used to be referred to as a “beater” – i.e., a worn-out old car.

      Cars are, indeed, a near-necessity in most non-urban parts of the U.S. – and even there. It’s a function of (less) density and newness more than anything else.

  21. Worse than underpowered cars are the underpowered drivers who drive these modern cars. My SIL has a large luxury car, but drives it like a 98 year old woman. That is, on a 110 kph road, she drives 80. On my court which has a 50 kph limit she drives 60. Go figure.

    Over the last 5 years here in Victoria, drivers try to merge onto 110 kph freeways at speeds not exceeding 70 kph. If you’re on the freeway you can see up ahead all the cars hitting brake lights and/or switching lanes to accommodate these idiots. I asked my son’s driving instructor about this and he says this is wrong. He also said slow drivers are more of a problem than fast drivers. The fast guy you can get out of his way. But the slow drives form 20 horse mule teams that test your patience.

    I call this the “speed camera phenomenon”. People thinking there is a scamcam at the end of the ramp. There are more scamcams in Victoria than in all the USA, and even England. Gubbernmint makes a billion off these scamcams every year.

    • With ya there Joeallen;

      “My SIL has a large luxury car, but drives it like a 98 year old woman. That is, on a 110 kph road, she drives 80. On my court which has a 50 kph limit she drives 60. Go figure.”

      My old man always said of women drivers “..29.5mph in the car park, on the freeway or up the driveway – no idea”.

      • Yesterday morning, I came upon a Clover Cluster. In the left lane, a new Benz E-Class. V-8, 4-Matic. This car was pacing the car to its right, blocking everyone.

        I eventually got close enough to see the Benz pilot. It was a geezer – his wife beside him. His two bony hands were perched at 11 and 1 and he was peering forward over the wheel like a preying mantis with glaucoma. Doing (I paced him) 43 in a 45 where traffic routinely rolls along at 60.

        In a $60k V-8 Mercedes capable of mid fives to 60 and 150 on top.

  22. My 15 yr old wants a late 60s early 70s car,
    Chevelle, Torino, Cougar, Firebird etc.

    and wants a manual trans.

    said the only late model vehicle he had any interest in was a Mini Cooper
    and the odd duck car, was when he saw a 71 Chrysler Imperial coupe
    ,thought that was a cool car, wanted to know how hard it would be to install a manual trans in it.

    I told him we’d pay $5K towards a vehicle if he was fluent in a foreign language by his 16th birth day,

    He started seeing a spanish tutor three days later….

    I know that we will need to possibly add disc brakes, shoulder belts, larger sway bars and probably A/C and maybe EFI, and if its a Ford, a metal panel to keep the gasoline out of the back seat,

    any other safety concerns using a late 60s car for a daily driver?
    check to see if a collapsible steering column can be retrofitted?

    He;s pretty handy with cars, already helped me transplant engines, replace clutches, etc

    sorry to hear about your trouble with Google,
    donation incoming.
    you should get a lawyer, or see if you can mobilize a twitter campaign to get someone at Goog to fix it,
    maybe you can get a news story on the Drudge page, since you;re a conservative and Goog cut off your traffic on purpose for no reason.

    • Depends on what you get what it will need.
      Such cars were way behind the curve 20 years ago and that made daily driving them a challenge. Other drivers in general do not understand the limitations of older hardware and will do things in normal driving that will put these cars at the limits of their braking and suspension.

      If you live in the rust/snow areas of the country I would advise against such a daily driver unless your kid likes scraping the insides of windows, cleaning snow and salt out of the wheel wells and such as well as annually scraping the bottom of the car and repainting to fight the rust. (although this could be mitigated during a restoration with the right paints) Modern snow tires. And while on tires for many cars they came standard with narrow bias ply tires on narrow wheels. If it didn’t come with at least 14×6 or 15×6 wheels (Often those were optional wheel sizes back then.) I would update to them or given the poor tire selection that Eric has pointed out, perhaps a 17″ wheel and tire combo to be able to select better tires.

      If I were to daily drive one a car of such vintage I would update to fuel injection. At least TBI. The entire suspension would get replaced with fresh parts and updated/improved as much as I could. If the car didn’t have three point belts they would be added from a later car. Dual master cylinder and front disc brakes. I wouldn’t worry about power brakes or power steering if the car didn’t already have them, but that’s just me. That’s more of preference.

      Crash wise my biggest fear would be side impact on anything made before about 1973. A lot of doors just didn’t have decent impact beams in them. They would be very difficult to retrofit without cutting the door open.

      Many cars (not just some fords) used the gas tank top as the trunk floor. Either a piece of sheet metal behind the rear seat back or a panel to make a separate floor would fix that.

      Halogen sealed beams. Also relays to power them. Could upgrade to ECE type bulb units. Headlamps that are era correct really don’t work well.

      I think that’s about it.

    • Hell, I am older than 15 and want a 67 Camero, Road Runner or ??? Show him the price with insurance and maintenance and tell him he can have it if he pays for it.

    • Hi Justin,

      Of all the models you mentioned, the F- cars (Camaro and Firebird) are – by far – the best choice. Because they are – by far – the best handling, with better brakes than almost anything else of their time. All the second generation (’70-’81) F cars came with adequate disc/drum brakes, as a for-instance. Not great by modern standards – but with enough capacity to safely stop the car (assuming a careful/competent driver) that an immediate upgrade prior to even thinking about driving them in traffic, every day, is not a requirement.

      I’d strongly encourage your son consider a circa ’74-79 model. These are pretty “modern” cars where it counts: Transistorized ignitions, pretty good driving characteristics in stock form. An Esprit or Formula 350 Firebird would be a good choice. Or – if he prefers the Chevy – an LT or Rally Sport Camaro with a 305 or 350 V-8. These cars, of course, all have three-point belts – and AC was a common option. They’re sturdy and offer pretty good crash protection, too. Parts to upgrade and maintain are very easy to get.

      You can still get these mid-70s models for well under $10k in very nice condition.

      PS: Thanks for the support! We are extremely encouraged by the response so far.

      • I agree, the Firebird or TransAm version is the most modern of any early 70s vehicle.

        Ive owned 2 F-bodies, a 70 Firebird with a 350 2bbl, and a 78 Formula with the 305 Chebby engine.

        If he gets a F-body He just wants the 70-73 nose and a manual trans, since we have 12 model years to choose from, the main issue is finding one without too much rust in our price range.

        been looking out west, prices are the same, and the transport costs would make up for the lack of rust. and swapping the 3 speed slushbox for a later model 5 speed couldnt be too hard.

        Im 48, I learned how to drive in a 67 Beetle and a 62 Mercury Meteor with the 221 V-8 and a 3 speed on the collum. manual steering, manual drum brakes all around, no seat belts, slippery bench seat, in the mountains.

        My first car in 1980 was a $500 ’66 Thunderbird 428, followed by a $275 ’69 Cyclone spoiler Cale Yarborough edition with a 351.

        and a $400 ’69 Thunderbird with the 429 Thunderjet. (what kind of parent lets their 16 yr old son get a 385 HP car??)

        Im not sure when the door guard beams were required, Ive seen the pic of the 67 GTO that got bumped in the door at a car show and the door would up in the center console.

        so thats a concern.

        otherwise, definitely need disc brakes,& three point belts, & A/C

        Im in the sunny south, so salty roads is not a concern, gotta have A/C though, when its 96+ degrees with 90% humidity all summer long.

        Ive added EFI to a couple of old Fords, using the 88-95 Ford mass air system from a donor car, its pretty easy, it uses a stand alone computer, all you gotta do is wire it in to the ignition switch.
        and it will even run with every sensor unplugged, as long as the distributor and main brain are plugged in.

        with the info & parts from these sites, anyone can do it:

        Ive swapped a couple of vehicles from auto to 5 speed as well.
        including transplanting a NV 3550 5 speed used in Dodge pickups & Jeeps into a early Bronco using an aftermarket adapter.

        • If going late 70s and playing “legos” with car parts is an option consider a Ford Fox platform car.

          The parts bin goes from 1978 to 2004 and even current production drivetrain options will bolt up.

          This means it can still be easily found in salvage yards today.

          Of course then early 70s styling is lost. But everything else desired will be there.

        • Morning, Justin!

          As you no doubt know – but for the benefit of others reading this – the early (70-73) Firebirds were both the lowest production and (because of the factory high-performance available) have become the most collectible and so – the most expensive to buy today. I bet your son could get a much nicer (mechanically and cosmetically) ’74-79 for a lot less money. Especially if it’s a base or Esprit (or even a Formula, but post ’75 with the standard Formula 350 or 400 engine, not the optional Trans-Am 400 or 455).

          I’d also consider an ’80 0r ’81. They have the same body (front and rear end treatment) as the ’79s, and offered the excellent WS6 suspension with 15×8 inch wheels and four wheel disc brakes – but because they were not available with anything stronger than the turbo 4.9 (301) and most had either a V-6 (non-Trans-Am) or the non-turbo 301 (or 305 Chevy) they are regarded as less collectible – for the moment – and so, much more affordable.

          Just food for thought.

          Mid-late ’70s Camaros (even non-Z28s) seem to cost more than same-year Firebirds. I’m not exactly sure why. But, I’ve seen a number of decent deals on ’75-77 Camaros (least popular years, apparently). Of course, one of great things about the later-’70s “smog” (lower performance) F-cars is they’re very easy to update to early ’70s high-performance levels. Meanwhile, they’re also more refined – better body integrity, better handling (especially the Firebird, which got the Radial Tuned Suspension – RTS – around ’74, IIRC). The early cars are noticeably more crude and rough. I’ve owned five of these, by the way – and still have one (my ’76 Trans-Am). I know these cars pretty thoroughly; if your son has any questions you can’t answer, have him post and I’ll do my best to provide a solid answer or point him in the direction of one!

          Another thought: A same-era Nova or Ventura. They shared a lot of parts with the F cars and behave similarly. But they can be purchased for much less.

          There’s also the Ford Maverick – an under-appreciated car, in my opinion. Get some nice old lady’s six-cylinder coupe and convert it into a Grabber clone with a worked small block Ford and “Boss 302” color palette on the exterior!

    • justin said “maybe you can get a news story on the Drudge page, since you’re a conservative”.

      Haha, I highly doubt Eric is a conservative, even a crypto-conservative.

  23. I agree with most of your points and especially the idea of having “skin in the game” when buying a first car. Three years of delivering the WaPo in Jr High got me my first car – wound up with a used 1974 Mustang II – what a POS that was, but hey, I wanted it at the time – haven’t bought a Ford since.

    Speaking of types of cars – Coming home from a family overseas posting as a high school Senior, I spent 10 hours eating my kneecaps in the back seat of a 2 door Datsun 210 – swore I would never buy a small car again – 30 plus years later I still drive full size trucks and larger mid size sport utilities vehicles.

  24. I would add that rather than just insurance for panel damage, the best insurance would be advanced driving courses.

    I’ve never had any kind of insurance (except mandatory 3rd party – and even that I’ve refused to pay in the last 10 years) on anything I’ve owned, because I bought it cash. Advanced driving courses have saved me from many near misses where if I’d not had those courses, might well have not recognised a crash developing around me or a situation where it would have been too dangerous to venture.

    That’s saved me swags of moola on premiums I would have paid over the years, likely for nothing. There are many situations some insurance might be useful, but it’s an individual thing – if you can MAKE it a preference.

    • Agree, Rev –

      I’ve taken Bondurant’s course and can personally attest to its value – and its fun!

      They have a course specifically meant for teens/new drivers which is excellent – and which will prepare the student for the next level.

      I’m not sure whether it’s still the case, but back when I did the “serious” course, successful completion qualified one for an SCCA road racing license.

  25. Good info. Although I agree with your points about stick shifts, I’d advise a parent that a manual is not essential. Holding out for a stick shift will vastly reduce the amount of available cars from which to choose. And many of those automatic cars might be ideal candidates in terms of meeting all your other criteria.

    If a parent had the funds, the decision could be extremely simple. Get your kid a recent model, non turbo, Volvo….and sign ’em up for AAA Roadside Service. 🙂

    Perhaps my dad was wise in buying me a Corvair Monza Spyder for my first. It was sporty and all, but even with turbo and stick shift, it was annoyingly slow. At the time, I thought he was a real kill joy. But if I’d had a faster car, I would have driven it faster, and picked up a lot more tickets…at the very least.

    • Mike, Eric,etc: I agree a manual should be a choice, but most wouldn’t choose one living in a city shifting constantly in traffic. Husband learned on a manual, but hates them now . I learned with an auto. back in the sixties. Even tho’ some learned on a manual, they won’t touch one now. Many more choices for buyers wanting an auto. trans.; most cars have package deals with amenities, and some have them as standard features on most Japanese cars which is all we drive. My generation paid for their car and Ins. (cheap then) working part time, a good idea.

      • Hi Laura,

        Oh, I agree that manuals have their downsides – just as you’ve noted, But learning to operate one is a valuable skill that almost certainly makes one a better driver, all else being equal.

        Even if one never drives a manual transmission car again!

  26. Some really sound advice.

    I bought my first car in 1997 and paid for the insurance myself and continue to take meticulous care of my vehicles (but i don’t recommend letting your kids first car be a ’91 MR2 turbo like mine was), my sis was given every car she had until last year when she finally bought her own. All previous cars typically looked like a homeless person inhabited them.
    a thing to add would be to not only make them pay for it but remind them that they are the ones who have to pay for it years in advance so they don’t assume they can borrow the family car after they turn 16 and pass the ridiculously easy test that fails to test skill almost at all.

    i might not even have to worry about my son driving, he turned 2 last week and who knows what will happen in teh next 14 years.


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