Is Grandpa's Nash Rambler a Good Choice for Teen's First Car?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 2001

Dear Tom and Ray:

My husband and I believe you are all-knowing in the matter of all things automotive! Therefore, you are the perfect duo to answer this question for us. My grandpa has a Nash Rambler sitting on his farm. It has no rust, looks very good and supposedly just needs a new fuel pump. We have a 14-year-old daughter learning how to drive. In two years, she'll need a car. He would sell it to us for a nickel! Is this a great idea, or should we tell Big Herb thanks, but no thanks? The look of the Rambler suits our daughter's personality perfectly.

-- Julie

RAY: Gee, I'm sorry to hear that, Julie. I had a slow, unreliable kid, too.

TOM: Actually, it's awfully kind of Big Herb to offer the Rambler, but I think you should pass. Here's the problem: Cars that are 40+ years old are much harder to drive than modern cars. They don't handle nearly as well, they don't stop nearly as well and they don't steer nearly as well.

RAY: Plus, they have lousy sound systems!

TOM: Add to that the lack of seat belts, the unpadded steering wheel and the metal dashboard to bounce your head off in an accident, and it's not really the best car for a new, inexperienced driver who is likely to make a mistake or two while she's learning.

RAY: Here's what I'd do: I'd buy the car for a nickel. Let your daughter spend the next two years fixing it up. She can certainly do the necessary cleaning and polishing to make it look great. And if she has the interest, she can learn some basic mechanics, too.

TOM: Then she can put an ad in Hemmings Motor News, sell it to an old-car hobbyist and use whatever money she gets to buy herself a safer, newer car -- maybe something a little sexier ... like a '72 Buick Estate Wagon. Good luck, Julie.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One