Car Talk Guide to Auto Safety
Morbid Betting Department
Bruce sent the following letter
Today (September 27) I heard your call from Janet in Charlotte, NC, who said that they had decided to purchase a BMW Z-3 for their 16-year-old daughter. I have to agree with the substance of what you told her: a BMW Z-3 is no car for a new driver.
Many years ago, I had a job inspecting rebuilt and salvaged cars for the state. In that job, I went to automotive shops throughout the state. One day, I went into one such place in a small town in the eastern part of the state, and I saw a car there (not one I was inspecting), an almost-new Buick Regal Grand National with the turbo engine. The car had less than 5,000 miles on it. The rear tires (Goodyear Eagle GTs), resembled racing slicks. And the car had a small dent in the passenger- side rocker panel.
The shop owner told me the owner had received the car as a 16th-birthday present. The kid had brought it in to get the dent repaired. The boy was a "BK" (banker's kid), so money evidently was not a problem.
I made a bet with the shop owner that next time I saw him (usually about every two months), the Grand National would sit in his repair yard once again, totaled. He refused the bet, a good thing for him. Several weeks later, upon my return to his shop, there sat the same car, the roof crushed and the sides very damaged. The 16-year-old had indeed totaled the car.