It’s true that chicks dig a hot car. It’s also true that it’s easier to finance a car than almost any other purchase (because a car is so easy to repossess), so buying that hot car is usually possible whether or not it’s a good idea.
For college students, it’s never a good idea.
When my brothers and I were in college we called our beaters “sifter” cars because the car helped to sift out all the girls who just wanted some chump to pay for them to have a good time. All of us discovered – to our surprise and elation – that there are plenty of hot girls who don’t care about what wheels their date is styling when he picks her up.
So in honor of the sifter car, in honor of cheap car insurance, and in honor of the continued debate over the student debt crisis, here are five cars for the student who is more resourceful than his resources might suggest.
1. Volkswagon Bug
I mean the old one. The proletariat-mobile. The car for the folks. The one that helped to define the 1960s, the one designed to be mechanically simple so drivers could do their own repairs. It’s cheap to drive, and getting some mechanical knowledge in between hitting the books is not just sensible, it’s sexy as well. Best of all, the bug is cheap. You can personalize this car any way you want; it’s not like you’re destroying a thousand-dollar paint job when you do.
2. Toyota Tercel
This was my older brother’s sifter car when he was in college, and it was my sifter car when I moved to LA. It’s the forgotten Toyota, a model that disappeared in the early 90s when Toyota up-marketed itself. But man will this car run for hundreds of thousands of miles. Any student who needs to get from school to job to second job to school again needs a car that will run.
3. Toyota 4-Runner (mid-90s)
The early Toyota 4-Runner was a truck at heart, with the same indestructible frame that made Toyota’s trucks one of the best-selling lines in the world. A 4-Runner with a clean CarFax report can be bought for less than five grand, it will run indefinitely regardless of mileage, and it will go anywhere. (Little hint: for a student who can’t afford a fancy dinner, a little off-road adventure and a picnic works just as well.)
4. Honda Fit
Most students don’t go to a new car lot to shop for a ride to get them from A to B. But sometimes that’s not a bad idea. Case in point, the Honda Fit. Once you figure in the expected repair costs of a used car, the monthly payment on a base model Fit isn’t half bad. And the Fit benefits from next-generation engineering, fuel efficiency, and a surprising level of comfort.
5. Jeep Wrangler
Putting a Wrangler on a list of cheap A-to-B cars is bound to raise a few eyebrows, but there’s a reason for it. Everybody should own a Jeep – preferably one with a soft top – at some point in their lives. And because the Jeep tends to be impractical as other priorities and responsibilities arise, the best time to drive one is college.
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