Even though I’m quickly approaching “old man” status, I still vividly remember how exciting it was to get my drivers license at 16 years of age. Thinking back on it, it was probably one of the most exciting events of my entire life up until this point. Getting that drivers license meant freedom, adulthood, and more than anything else: hilariously good fun. I’m also a self absorbed car guy bursting with good ideas, so read on as I relive my youth by listing out 5 good first cars for guys.
But first, a few words about that annoying little thing called “responsibility”
Before going any further with this post, I believe it’s important for me to get it out in the open that this isn’t going to be a list of vehicles that those with lower levels of maturity will easily find trouble with. Remember what I said about the fact that I’m quickly approaching old man status? Yeah, that means I’m old and boring now and I tend to approach every situation with a smidgen of adult logic and reason.
All the cars in this list were chosen with a variety of factors in mind. Safety, price, and reliability may sound like really boring stuff to the kids, but they each played a major role as I poured through the different options trying to put this list together.
Having been 16 once myself, I know that “fun and cool” is pretty much all that matters to young new driver. Well, at least it is for the boys. Girls tend to be slightly more mature at that age, and likely smart enough to consider safety into their first car purchase. But we boys just want to go all out and as big as we can for our first whip. Therefore, even though I’ve built this list of 5 good cars for guys based around safety, price, and reliability, I know how guys think and I made it a point to not include anything dull and potentially embarrassing to be seen in.
And now, the list of 5 good first cars for guys:
1. A full-size pick up truck
The fact that I listed a truck as the very first car idea for a new driver should be everything you need to know that tells you that I’m based in the US. All of the other cars on this list are available globally, but I couldn’t resist starting with a full-size truck as a good first car.
Why? Well, because at least here in the United States, trucks are considered very cool vehicles to pretty much everybody. I’ll admit that I’ve never had much attraction to trucks (I’m definitely more of a sports car guy), but nearly any 16-year-old boy would be happy as a pig in you-know-what driving around a 10 to 15 year old full-size truck from Ford, Chevy, or Dodge.
Not only is a full-size truck cool, it’s very safe and practical as well. Safe because it’s a large vehicle that will protect all occupants in a tangle with another vehicle (or tree that jumps out in front of them). Practical because most full-size trucks are kind of slow and there won’t be that temptation to drive as fast as they would in a sporty car.
For all of you moms out there reading this who have no clue how the teenage male brain works, you have to understand that we boys like to drive fast. There’s no logic or reason behind it that I could write which would make any sense of it, but just know that your newly-licensed teenage son has already tried to see how fast your girly little VW beetle will go. Sorry, but giving your teenage access to a car that can go over 115mph is just asking for trouble.
When it comes to this list of 5 good first cars for guys, I vehemently defend my recommendation of a full-size truck to any parent with a teenage son just starting to drive. It’s a win-win situation for all involved.
2. A 10-year-old Honda Civic
Just so you know, when I say “10-year-old Honda Civic”, that’s exactly what I mean. It doesn’t matter whether you’re reading this article in 2019 or 2029. A 10 year-old Honda Civic is always going to be in my list of 5 good first cars for guys.
As contradictory as it may be to what I just said, the honest truth is that I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to include the Civic in this list at all. You see, it’s such a cliché choice that I felt kind of bad for suggesting it when it’s already been suggested by so many other automotive gurus before. But the more I thought about it, the more I understood why the Honda Civic is the perfect first car. Especially for guys.
First of all, it’s easily one of the most reliable and dependable used cars on the market. It’s been that way for what seems like an eternity, and there’s no signs of that changing anytime soon. It’s not exactly the cheapest used car to buy either, but that’s only because it’s so reliable and dependable. You have to pay a little bit extra to get something that isn’t going to leave you stranded, so be prepared to spend a little bit more than you would for nearly anything else in it’s category.
So why exactly is A 10-year-old Honda Civic A perfect first car for a guy? Well, to put it simply, Honda Civic’s can be transformed into something very hip and cool relatively easily (and cheaply). The simple addition of a set of wheels and tires, tinted windows, and an upgraded stereo will transform any plain Jane Honda Civic into a car that nearly any young male driver would be proud to drive.
3. An early 2000‘s Mustang GT
OK, this is another car that might be hard to find anywhere outside of the US. However, here in the Land of the Brave, they’re a dime a dozen. As a matter of fact, that’s part of why I am recommending them as a good first car for a guy.
You see, when buying a used car, it’s really important to buy something that’s going to be extremely cheap to maintain and fix whenever it needs repairs. Any Ford Mustang GT between the years 2000 and 2004 would be an incredibly fun and cheap first car for any guy looking for something a little bit more aggressive than my Honda Civic recommendation above.
I may be completely biased since I’ve previously owned two of these SN95 Mustang GT’s over the years (a 1996 and a 1997), but that bias is what helps me to feel so confident in recommending it. It’s not the best looking car on the road, I will fully admit that, but it’s got a ferocious sounding 4.6 L V8 which would put a smile on any guy’s face – no matter what his age.
If you’re wondering why I’m recommending a super-fast V8 Mustang as a good first car, you need to know that the early 2000‘s Ford Mustang GT‘s are actually really slow (would you believe they only had 220-250hp?). As a matter of fact, nearly any new midsize car or SUV on the market today is faster than the Mustang GT‘s of that era. So don’t worry – it’s not too much power to handle for a first time driver. However, the sound of the V8 is incredible. Best of all, parts are easily available (and incredibly cheap).
4. Mazda 3 Touring
As a guy myself, I know how important it is to drive around a fun car. As an adult, I know how important it is to drive around something practical. Luckily for guys like me (and guys who are just starting to drive) the fine engineers at Mazda created the perfect car featuring a magnificent 50-50 split of fun and practicality: the Mazda 3 Touring.
On the surface, the Mazda 3 is essentially just a small economy car built for daily driving and getting from point A to point B as safely as possible. This is a platform that has been under development for years, and Mazda has been continuously refining it into the gem of a car it is today. As far as I’m concerned, the Mazda 3 Touring is a perfectly-sized car that’s big enough to be practical yet small enough to be nimble and fun.
Need to take four of your coworkers to lunch on Friday? The Mazda 3 can do that comfortably. But what if you’re also planning on heading up to the mountains on Saturday for a spirited drive? The Mazda 3 has you covered there as well. Even in its most basic form, the weight balance of the Mazda 3 is one of the best I’ve ever felt in a car, and it transforms from comfortable cruiser to sports car with a simple flick of the wrist. I don’t know how Mazda did it, but they did, and it’s a brilliant first car for a guy.
5. 1983 Pontiac 6000 LE
OK well, I don’t actually mean that you need to scour junkyards from coast to coast trying to find a 1983 Pontiac 6000 LE that actually still runs and drives. I’m just trying to make a point here.
The 6000 was the car that my parents bought me when I turned 16 years old, and even though I was extremely thankful for it, part of me died inside a little every time that I drove that pile of junk. It was ugly, incredibly slow, and it left me yearning to succeed in life so that I could afford to buy a nice car for myself one day.
Basically, buying your teenage son a 15 to 20 year old car at the end of it’s useful life is probably the best thing you can do for him.
First of all, the mere act of giving him a car will to make him understand how cool of a parent you are (if he hasn’t realized it already). Second, he will likely experience exactly what I did with my 1983 Pontiac 6000. Yes, he’s going to be extremely thankful for having his own car, but the frustration of driving such a boring and unreliable pile of junk will ignite a passion for him to succeed in life like nothing else will. Especially if he’s a car guy and and he measures success by the kind of car he drives. Yeah, that sounds really shallow, but having been 16 years old once myself, I know for a fact that young car guys think like that.
One last thing to remember about a good first car
Thinking back on my own life up until this point, there are handful of events that have defined who I am as a person. College was a big one, getting my first real job after college was the next, and the whole marriage thing was a biggie as well. But you know what? My first car (that decrepit old Pontiac 6000) still lives in my memory 25 years later as the thing that push me to succeed in life. Of course it wasn’t the only thing, but played a major role in how I view success and accomplishment today.
Putting together this list 5 good first cars for guys really made me dig deep and uncover some old memories I had packed away in my noggin that I always enjoy coming back to. That first car purchase (whether it’s made by the parents or the driver himself) is a major life event and not something to be taken lightly.
Choosing a car that’s not only safe and reliable is important for sure. Since this vehicle is going to be a generator of memories for a lifetime, it’s extremely important for it to be something oozing with character. Everyone’s definition of character is something different of course, but no matter what, this car and the experiences it will provide is significant enough to give it serious thought. No pressure or anything as you start looking through the inventories on AutoTrader and CarMax…