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wsouders
wsouders None
6/20/17 11:46 a.m.

My son is a sports car junkie like me and has been researching buying his first car. We have found a few options in the general vicinity of North East Ohio where we live. The first is a clean 92,000 mi 2005 RX-8 it is the Shinko edition with a manual. The other is a 2009 Subaru wagon 2.5i Premium with an automatic. He really wants a manual even though he does not know how to drive one yet. He is 16 and just about to get his license. I know that the Subie is more practical, but find it hard to pass up on a good clean RX-8. How hard is it to maintain the rotary engine? I have seen many in the area with blown engines and want to avoid a money pit. Just looking for a sounding board from those who are gear heads like me and my son.

Blaise
Blaise Reader
6/20/17 11:49 a.m.

You either want one with a recently redone motor or one that's blown up to fix.

Easy to maintain after that. People just never add oil to em and that's what does them in.

Brian
Brian MegaDork
6/20/17 12:05 p.m.

First car for a 16yo in the rust belt? Subi.

Patrick
Patrick GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/20/17 12:09 p.m.

Subie. It'll keep him alive in the winter where the rx8, manual, in the hands of a 16 year old in the snow, will try to kill him

TGMF
TGMF Reader
6/20/17 12:26 p.m.

How much do you want to wrench on it? How much do you want to pay in insurance? Personally I'd pick the cheapest, most reliable, easy to fix car you can find for him to learn to drive and wrench on for a year or so. During that time, have him save up some money for a couple years while doing this and then help him buy a nicer, more fun vehicle. Sell the first car appliance. If he keeps it in good shape, then he will get most of the money back out of it. That will give you a chance to evaluate his driving skills, respect for a vehicle, its assorted costs, as well as a healthy dose of pride when he finally gets the car he really wants.

Rear wheel drive isn't a death sentence in the winter if one has the respect and driving skill needed to control it. Question is, will your 16 year old have that year one with his license?

I like RX8's....even though I'm well established, and creeping on 40 years old, I don't own one because I don't want to constantly mess with it.

Trackmouse
Trackmouse SuperDork
6/20/17 12:29 p.m.

If your not a rotary guy then subie. That rotary engine is super impractical for a teen.

Tyler H
Tyler H GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
6/20/17 12:32 p.m.

Line up 10-15 cars on Atlanta Craigslist, book a cheap one-way flight (or Megabus) to Atlanta for the weekend, find him a WRX (or whatever) with a manual and drive it back.

He'll get a rust-free car that he is enthusiastic about vs a 'meh' appliance that he'll either want to replace quickly or neglect. You both have a memory that will last forever.

wvumtnbkr
wvumtnbkr GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
6/20/17 12:43 p.m.

How good of a mechanic is the child? If pretty good, RX8. If not, subie... Maybe.

My RX8 SUCKED in the snow, even with snow tires.

My RX7 on the other hand was the BEST snow car EVER.

MugenReplica
MugenReplica New Reader
6/20/17 1:01 p.m.

RX8

It'll make you appreciate reliable and gas efficient cars.

penultimeta
penultimeta HalfDork
6/20/17 1:08 p.m.

What about an NB miata? But between the two you mentioned, Subie hands down. The RX8 requires a little more care than your average car. Not German level, but enough that it cannot be neglected. If he absolutely loves the RX8, just make sure he understands the maintenance it requires. To echo above, make sure you buy one with the engine replaced or one with a blown engine and swap it yourself.

McTinkerson
McTinkerson Reader
6/20/17 1:21 p.m.
wvumtnbkr wrote: My RX8 SUCKED in the snow, even with snow tires.

My wife and I daily our RX8 in the winter and it's by far the best winter car (short of my old RX-7 with a mechanical 2 way LSD).

The big one for them in the winter is to disable TCS so that the torsen can actually do its job.

NOHOME
NOHOME UltimaDork
6/20/17 1:35 p.m.

Sorry, but as much as I am an advocate for two seat manual shift cars, I could never get past the rotary reputation for kabloominess.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
6/20/17 1:38 p.m.

While I love the idea of him learning to drive a manual, an RX-8 isn't the best choice for a 16 year old. I know when I was 16 I didn't have the $$ for something that got 15mpg and drank premium. That's also a pretty rapid car for someone just learning.

I'd look for something a bit slower with a manual. Maybe a Civic, base Impreza, or even an old Volvo with a stick. It's hard to text while driving a manual, and none of this friends will know how to drive it. Kids tend to wreck their first cars---- I'd get something sturdy, inexpensive and reliable.

He'll have plenty of time to make bad automotive decisions later!

Sky_Render
Sky_Render SuperDork
6/20/17 2:20 p.m.

The RX-8 is not practical. It is also rather unreliable. There were a lot of issues with that engine.

BrokenYugo
BrokenYugo MegaDork
6/20/17 2:26 p.m.
Joe Gearin wrote: While I love the idea of him learning to drive a manual, an RX-8 isn't the best choice for a 16 year old. I know when I was 16 I didn't have the $$ for something that got 15mpg and drank premium. That's also a pretty rapid car for someone just learning. I'd look for something a bit slower with a manual. Maybe a Civic, base Impreza, or even an old Volvo with a stick. It's hard to text while driving a manual, and none of this friends will know how to drive it. Kids tend to wreck their first cars---- I'd get something sturdy, inexpensive and reliable. He'll have plenty of time to make bad automotive decisions later!

That^, manual Civic or Fit is a good, fun, choice. Cheap to run and minimal maintenance (timing belt and valve adjustments) beyond fluid changes. Slap on a set of proper snow tires (I recommend General Altimax Artic) and it will pass most of the Subarus on all seasons.

Personally I really don't like the way Subarus drive, unless post bugeye they made the steering ratios in the lower models less truck like, beefed up the firewall around the master cylinders, and figured out how to make them handle without riding like a buckboard.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/20/17 2:28 p.m.

+1 for a manual Civic or base Impreza. It'll be vastly cheaper to run than either of those options, and unlike those cars it'll take some real pushing to get it past 200kph.

Aspen
Aspen Reader
6/20/17 2:30 p.m.

Hold out for a manual Suby. The auto is soul sucking bad.

John Welsh
John Welsh MegaDork
6/20/17 2:41 p.m.

I will only add this general advice. When choosing a car for a teen, before buying or before even investing the time to go check out a model, call your insurance agent. Ask the agent, "if I bought a model-x, how much would that cost to insure Jr?" Also ask, "how much for this model-y?"
You should be able to get an answer while on the phone but at worst by the end of the day.

Don't just make assumptions that a Civic is similar to Sentra so they probably cost the same. You may be in for a big surprise on models that seem "the same."

PS: Welcome from Sandusky, OH. I'd be happy to keep a look out. I just sold a car that would have been perfect for a new driver. '09 Pontiac Vibe w/80k miles.

BrokenYugo
BrokenYugo MegaDork
6/20/17 2:48 p.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

It can be downright bizarre some of the time, when I was ~17 I was quoted numbers for basic liability that were similar to the string of 4 cylinder stuff I ended up with in that time frame, on V8 third gen F bodies. Must have been the sort of cars teenagers were getting mostly didn't run well/often enough to be dangerous.

John Welsh
John Welsh MegaDork
6/20/17 2:48 p.m.

Here's my first though...Some from both worlds...
'07 Mazda3 2.3L w/ manual trans in Medina

Spend the savings on any one of the 6 classes being offered in Ohio this year by Street Survival Program.
A Mazda3 will really shine at those events.
Spend the other portion of the savings on a set of General Tire ArticMax, genuine winter tires for that portion of the year.

John Welsh
John Welsh MegaDork
6/20/17 3:01 p.m.

Volvo's are supossed to be safe, right?
This one will cost you more but it is rare and looks clean.
Check out the other cars in the driveway. Certainly and "enthusiast owner"
2012 Volvo C30 6 speed - $10500 (Norton)

Duke
Duke MegaDork
6/20/17 3:06 p.m.
Aspen wrote: Hold out for a manual Suby. The auto is soul sucking bad.

It's not that bad. DD#1 has a 2002 Impreza wagon with the manual, and it's an ordinary 4-speed automatic. Is it as fun as a manual would be? No. But it's not like an Oughties CVT, for instance.

That being said, I agree on an Impreza with a manual as an excellent first car.

penultimeta
penultimeta HalfDork
6/20/17 3:12 p.m.
BrokenYugo wrote: In reply to John Welsh : It can be downright bizarre some of the time, when I was ~17 I was quoted numbers for basic liability that were similar to the string of 4 cylinder stuff I ended up with in that time frame, on V8 third gen F bodies. Must have been the sort of cars teenagers were getting mostly didn't run well/often enough to be dangerous.

This must be true. When I was first starting to drive EK civics and DC integras were the hotness. I can't remember the quote now, but it was astronomical. This is how I ended up with a Jellybean Taurus (well, Sable).

BrokenYugo
BrokenYugo MegaDork
6/20/17 3:25 p.m.

In reply to penultimeta:

Sounds right, Integras typically ran great until the teenager without enough experience to operate a manual in anger money shifted it and spun a bearing.

XLR99
XLR99 Dork
6/20/17 3:35 p.m.
Patrick wrote: Subie. It'll keep him alive in the winter where the rx8, manual, in the hands of a 16 year old in the snow, will try to kill him

To a point . A couple of teenagers hold the 'distance from the paved surface' record at my intersection; this major award was won with an STi in the snow.

As someone who just did this (son is almost 18 now); think disposable, pre-dented and slow. John's thought about checking with insurance is a good one as well. The 5 speed is a bonus, as it requires more user intervention. Kids beat the crap out of cars, and they beat the crap out of other kids' cars too. You don't want something you like subjected to the horrors of the high school parking lot.

It has been noted by my son that the kids whose parents buy them a nice shiny new car usually beat them harder, and crash/total them at a greater rate than kids who are required to have some skin in the game. (also, but unrelated: kids whose parents buy them a NEW Accord, then bitch about it, will be punished )

Also, my standard recommendation is to have him do a TireRack Street Survival class; we have them around NeOhio several times a year now. Back that up with 'donuts with dad' sessions when it snows; if you have younger kids bring them along as judges, and make a tournament out of it.

Also, welcome to the tribe from another NeOhioan!

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