Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Michael asks: My son will be 15 on Jan 1, 2022. We have one stick shift in the family, my 2003 Honda s2000 (a purchase inspired by your “doomed” review). Not suitable for training. What do you think about (a) buying a high mileage but durable training vehicle with a stickshift for under $2,000, or (b) converting my 2005 Toyota Camry with 213k miles from an automatic that refuses to die, to a manual shift? If the choice is (a), what vehicles would you recommend. Thank you!
My reply: I would select option “a” – finding him a sound used car with a manual; something along the lines of an old Corolla or Yaris, a Hyundai Accent, an old Subaru Impreza or Mazda3, etc. So long as it’s got the third pedal and it’s a sound “driver.” The conversion costs on the Camry would be astronomical and there are probably issues with – sigh – computer compatibility.
I’d normally suggest an old pick-up but – thanks to the situation – the prices for these have skyrocketed absurdly. Which is too bad because a truck would be both fun, valuable as a teaching too and very useful, as he gets older and will need a vehicle that can haul his stuff around.
I’d also suggest starting his training now – before he gets to 15. If you have any friends/family with stick vehicles, see whether they’d be willing to let him learn in a parking lot, under your supervision. The sooner he acquires experience – and skill – the better a driver he’ll be, by the time he is technically legal to drive!
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