Ford Escort or BMW for a 16-Year-Old Boy?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 1999

Dear Tom and Ray:

As a 15-year-old boy who will be turning 16 soon, I have been researching possible cars that will serve as dependable transportation between my house and my burger-flipping job. I have narrowed my search down to one car: a 1988 BMW 325is that costs $4,500. My problem is that I really want the Bimmer, but it has 150,000 miles on it. My mom says that's too many, and that I should get my grandmother's 1993 Ford Escort that has only 20,000 "to the bridge club and back" miles on it for the same price. I know the owner of the 325, and he truly loves it and has taken excellent care of it. The only reason he's selling it is because he is a father-to-be, and his wife wants him to get a minivan. I believe the BMW has a lot of life left in it, despite what my mother thinks. Plus, it has a lot more appeal than an Escort with a broken radio! Do you guys think I should take the hot autobahn burner or take my mother's advice and settle for the sensible Escort?

-- Matt

TOM: Let's cut right to the chase here, Matt. Being a 16-year-old boy, your primary interest in life is one thing: meeting girls. And you're interested in the BMW because you think it's going to improve your odds. So now that we've established the unspoken basis for your question, we can get on with the answer.

RAY: The answer is you should take the Escort. Wait! Before you tear up today's paper in disgust, let us make our case. We've learned something over the years. A lot of guys think that girls are attracted to cars that GUYS think are cool --cars like BMWs, Camaros, Yukons and other macho vehicles.

TOM: But we have been told by many women (who, by the way Matt, are just like girls, but older), that they are turned OFF by such cars. They find such cars rather obnoxious and even scary, and assume that any guy that owns a car like that is more concerned about his car and his image than he would be about her.

RAY: I know it's hard to believe, Matt, but I'm willing to predict here -- in print -- that you'll meet more girls in your Ford Escort than you would with a BMW.

TOM: Plus, there's a whole practical side to this question. You can't afford to maintain a BMW on a burger flipper's salary. The first time you have to pay $1,100 for an exhaust system, you'll be stealing hamburger buns and using them to plug up the exhaust holes.

RAY: Right. With the Escort, with only 20,000 miles on it, repairs should be few and far between, and you'll be able to afford to take all of your girlfriends to movies and out to dinner. (Girls like that stuff.)

TOM: Plus, since you won't care about your Escort, you won't bore them at dinner by talking about your car (a real turn off -- ask any of my ex-wives).

RAY: So from every possible angle -- mechanical, economic and social, the Escort is the car for you, Matt. Trust us on this. And write back and let us know how your social life is working out.


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