I want a new car!
April 19, 2006 2:04 PM   Subscribe

I got a 2002 Subaru Legacy GT wagon for my 16th birthday and I hate it. It's slow, boring, and gets about 20 MPG. (more details inside) I would really love to get a new car, probably for 12k max. any ideas on getting my parents to let me get a new one?

I don't think I could get my parents to let me get a new car easily because I've spent about $1000 on speakers, a radio, sirius, and an ipod adapter.
Also I have a nice big scratch/dent in the side.
Any ideas on how to get my parents to get me a new car, or at least how to make mine faster?
Also advice on what car to get?
Something fast, semi-reliable, and cheap
posted by joshuak to Travel & Transportation (68 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hmmm. Jobs are great for this sort of thing.
Sorry, had to say it. I would have taken any free car at 16.
That said, you're not going to get anything much fast for 12K, as far as I know. Toyota Yaris? Kia something?
posted by chococat at 2:11 PM on April 19, 2006

No. Maybe a Jeep Wrangler? That wouldn't solve your performance issues. I don't think the new Mustang is within your price range. In my opinion tricking out Subarus and non-high end cars looks kind of like you're trying too hard, I'd just leave it and wait until you go to college to beg your parents for a new car.

Also one of the great things about a car you don't like is that you don't have to obsess over dents, scratches and dings.
posted by geoff. at 2:12 PM on April 19, 2006

Response by poster: Oh, I almost forgot,it's GOLD
Also I live in LA and spend a LOT of time in it
posted by joshuak at 2:15 PM on April 19, 2006

Get a job and earn the money. Adults tend to respect that sort of thing.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:15 PM on April 19, 2006

You're 16, right? Hold onto it through college, wait until you get a real job, and then buy something used which you like.
posted by nathan_teske at 2:18 PM on April 19, 2006

Sounds like your parents got you a solid, reliable car that isn't likely to get you laid or leave you dead. Good luck talking them into anything any different.

Maybe you could wreck the thing and get yourself nearly killed while getting serviced and driving through the mountains at 120. That might convince them that they'd made the wrong choice, while leaving you in need a new car.
posted by Good Brain at 2:23 PM on April 19, 2006

I think if you want to convince your parents that you want/need a different car, you should start by showing some seriously extreme gratitude towards them for providing you with one to begin with (not saying that you haven't, just saying that you should).

If it's your personality, write a song about your car, and about environmental impact. If that's not your cup of tea, perhaps a letter to your parents, expressing gratitude and then showing your maturity by showing your innate understanding of environmental and economic issues persuading them to trade your current car in is something that could work.

I wouldn't express that the car is slow, boring, or a bad color to your parents - they, I imagine, purchased the car for you as an acknowledgement of your maturity and saying that makes you sound like a petulant four-year-old who didn't get their desired toy for Christmas. The purchase of a car is an incredibly expensive undertaking, and I imagine your parents are also paying your insurance, which for a sixteen-year-old, doesn't come cheap. Try thinking about this problem from their perspective - they've provided you with something that, on a base level, satisfies a need that you have. You are requesting an upgrade to your admittedly adequate transportation. If you were your parents, how would you want to be approached?
posted by MeetMegan at 2:23 PM on April 19, 2006

My first car (not mine, another '88 Dodge Omni) cost less than your stereo system in 1996. It also cost less than its own stereo system after I was done with it. Just say thanks and enjoy it. I just bought myself a car that cost more than my parents' house did (when they bought it anyway), so my implicit answer is to get a job and spend all your money on yet another car that would run just as well instead of on gas, insurance, or saving it at 10% for 60 years.
posted by kcm at 2:26 PM on April 19, 2006

Response by poster: I think my dad bought it BECAUSE it is slow. I know I can't get a new one but it's a GT model so there MUST be something I can do to make it faster. Can I supercharge it or something? I want torque. It takes 11 seconds to go 0-60.

P.S. my job pays $7 per hour and I only work summers. So any suggestions on how to make money would be good too. I live in Sherman Oaks. Maybe a market or something?
posted by joshuak at 2:27 PM on April 19, 2006

Grumpy Old Manfilter:

My first car was my grandfather's 1979 Chevy Chevette, one of the worst cars of the millenium. I drove it from age 17 to 22, until it threw a rod climbing a minor incline.

Forgive me if I'm not dripping with sympathy.

All teenage bitterness aside, are you in a position to sell this car and use the proceeds to buy something less mortifying, or is it a family car that you're just allowed to drive?
posted by murphy slaw at 2:29 PM on April 19, 2006

That's with a 2.5L engine? That should be plenty of power to be "normal" - you won't be winning races, but it's far from dangerously or even really unpleasantly slow. My advice is take up some kind of alpine sport and enjoy the AWD.
posted by aubilenon at 2:31 PM on April 19, 2006

You have the Internet and thousandfuls of Subaru forums at your disposal. Get to reading and spend a little on modding your car - you learn about working on them, it costs much less, and it's much more rewarding. Even if it's not terribly fast in the end, *you* did it.

I'd kill to be 16 with a garage and driveway again - I can't even change my own oil any more being an urban dweller, and doing mods and repairs like I used to is out of the question. Look at what you do have.
posted by kcm at 2:37 PM on April 19, 2006

any ideas on getting my parents to let me get a new one?

Yeah, I have an idea. The idea is: you don't deserve one. I guess what they say is true - kids who get stuff just handed to them on a silver platter do not appreciate what they get.

Seriously though, if you want to be anything close to reasonable about it - figure out what it's worth as a trade-in, and suggest a replacement car to your parents that costs about the same or less than the trade-in value.

A teenaged boy wanting a fast car is just asking for trouble, as a general principle. By the way, WEAR YOUR FRICKIN SEATBELT. And don't drink and drive.
posted by beth at 2:45 PM on April 19, 2006

It's slow, boring, and gets about 20 MPG.

Can I supercharge it or something? I want torque. It takes 11 seconds to go 0-60.

You can go fast, or you can get better mileage... not both.
posted by Marky at 2:47 PM on April 19, 2006

I don't wish to be patronizing, joshuak, but if you are 16, and are driving so much that you are, as you say, spending "a LOT of time in it," the odds are that a high performance car could wind up being your coffin. There are lots of reasons why that conjecture is statistically valid, but here's one that explains a lot.

It takes years of practice to develop the skills and judgement to handle fast cars in street driving, because the street is a highly unpredictable environment. Pavement conditions are often far less than optimal, other traffic rarely cooperates, and sh** happens. If you want to live long enough to have a chance to decide about reproducing, develop some different aspirations.

One thing you could do with the Subaru that is pretty interesting, and builds real driving skill is autocross or auto gymkhana. Look around your area for SCCA events, and go see what SCCA club racing is all about. Put your interest in performance cars and recreational driving on the track, where it belongs, and as a young person you'll go a long way towards enlisting adult support, learning real car control skills, developing friendships in the performance community, and getting invaluable experience safely and affordably. Some of my best memories as a teenager are from "H" class production racing on old county airport tracks in the Mid-west back in the 60's, and I still use the skills I learned way back then in everyday driving.
posted by paulsc at 2:53 PM on April 19, 2006

A car is a pretty big decision, especially a relatively new and expensive car like that. I don't think parents should make the decision of what their kid gets to drive, even if they are buying it. I still don't feel a whole lot of sympathy for you, though, remembering the cars I drove until I was able to afford something "nice" (i.e. about 8 years old).

If you do pull it off, the Integra GS-R is probably the car for you. Light weight, good gas mileage, and quick. A 2000 or 2001 in nice shape will be less than $12k.
posted by knave at 2:53 PM on April 19, 2006

You got a car for free at age 16. Since then $1000 has been spent on it to add some electronic equipment (did you pay for the speakers, radio, sirius, and ipod adapter or did your parents?). It's been at most 4 years but I'm guessing by your AskMefi questions, probably 1-2 years and you want a new car again for free.

1) Get an after-school job, make some money, and look into buying a used car, or
2) Get an after-school job... Modify the car with a (Cold) Air Intake system, new exhaust, and then ECU. You want horsepower, not torque. Each component will cost you a few hundred dollars. Read Subaru forums for info.

I doubt your dad bought it because it was slow. It's a wagon so it's on the heavier side but it's very practical. Take some advice from those of us who didn't have a car in our teenage years or had to pay for it. You work a $7/hr job. Think about how long you'd have to save to buy a new $12k car and appreciate the sacrifice your dad made to buy you the Legacy.
posted by junesix at 2:55 PM on April 19, 2006

Dude, if you're in a band, that Subaru is worth its weight in gold. Keep it. What I would have given to have had a car for lugging gear around when I was in college. You are in a band, aren't you?
posted by ldenneau at 3:03 PM on April 19, 2006


unfortunately, you've phrased your post in such a manner that's exposed you as one archetype that many people on metafilter regard with disdain -- "the spoiled rich kid who lives in LA". It's not likely that most of the posts in this thread will help -- obviously, people telling you "you're lucky just to have a car" isn't really going to make your car go faster or get you a new one.

That said, there's a couple things I can think of that might work out for you:

12k, if you could get it, would buy you a somewhat unreliable older car that could probably kick some serious ass. If I had 12k to spend on a car right now, I'd buy an el camino AND a chevelle (or one really nice one). That way, you could learn how to work on cars on something that's not covered with shrouds and other bullshit, have a car that people will think is pretty cool, and one that could, quite potentially, be damned fast. Now, it's not going to get decent mileage (although maybe it'll get 15-20 -- hard to say, maybe some of the CAR people could step in here, you know, the ones that could answer your questions and not the ones who just want to proffer their opinion that you're spoiled) and it's probably not going to be reliable -- I have two cars right now, and neither of them run, so I've been riding my bike around for the last month. I don't think this is really an option in LA. Lastly, my guess is your folks ain't gonna go for it, unless one of them is a gearhead. I had to wait until I could front the money for my own car before I could buy an older one -- the idea that I needed anything other than the 82 tercel hand-me-down I got was shot down by my dad.

You also might look for bulletin boards specific to your car -- there are quite a few knowledgable folks about cars here, but if they haven't worked on your model specifically, they might not be able to advise you as well. I'm SURE there's something you can do, but you might have to get your hands dirty a bit -- i don't know how easy it is to add parts to a late model car, but it looks like some mods are just bolt-on, so that's something you could play with.

if you get a new car, are you selling the old one? are you trading it in? How are you arriving at the 12k figure?
posted by fishfucker at 3:05 PM on April 19, 2006

Response by poster: First of all I didn't post here to be criticized.
Second of all, I live in LA and if you go to a high school parking lot here(my school doesn't have one i park 3 blocks away) you will think you are in a luxury car dealership.
Third of all I paid for $3000 and it cost $15000. and I paid for the speakers and everything.
Fourth I drive safely I just want a little more power for driving on the freeway. I don't NEED it but if I'm earning money I'll spend it however the hell I want.

Now that I think of it, this post should have just been, "how can a 17 year old make money in LA?"i
posted by joshuak at 3:06 PM on April 19, 2006

Response by poster: 12k is the KBB price if i get it in better shape
posted by joshuak at 3:09 PM on April 19, 2006

BTW, while a 2002 gold subaru wagon might not actually get you laid, with the back seat down, it certainly offers a better venue for it than the front seat of my girlfiends friend's 1983 Ford Escort did in 1985.

I've never tried it myself, but I understand that being in a band, as Idenneau, can help get you laid.
posted by Good Brain at 3:12 PM on April 19, 2006

First of all I didn't post here to be criticized.

You wrote "any ideas", I checked before I posted my response. The idea that your current car is good enough is an idea so falls under "any".

If you'd said "any ideas that don't criticize me or disagree with my choices and desires in any way, shape, or form" then maybe you'd have a leg to stand on.
posted by beth at 3:15 PM on April 19, 2006

Best answer: I understand that you didn't want to be criticized. I have to say I cringed a bit when I read your post, though -- given that Metafilter tends toward the cranky side at most times, I didn't think you'd get too much sympathy.

That being said: I do understand the "multiply your age by five and that's what your car is worth" factor -- my high school was the same. However, no matter how many mid-life crisis cars your classmates are sporting, there are always a few modest ones. Anyone who judges you on your car -- I dunno, is dumb or something. Seriously.

To answer the true nature of your question, "how can a 17 year old make money in LA?": the "richest" kid I knew at that age (meaning he had the most money of his own at the time, not how much his parents had or how much they gave him) worked in the men's locker room of the nicest country club in town. He shined shoes, cleaned clubs, was probably horribly condescended to -- but he was the schmooziest teenager you'd ever meet, and he'd frequently make a few hundred dollars in tips every day he worked. Plus, he has incredible business contacts that he utilizes to this day.
posted by penchant at 3:20 PM on April 19, 2006

This answers to this question have really frustrated me.

They all make huge assumptions, and very few (none?) of them actually offer any help to the original question. They follow the hackneyed, "when I was your age" theme. Which is, coincidentally, the same thing your parents told you when you were his age.

Joshuak, I would recommend that you make another post, requesting that any further answers should actually pertain to the question.

(end rant)

Possible Cars:

Used MINI Cooper? (this is maybe on the high side price wise, but won't lose value)

Used Honda Accord Coupe or Civic?

Used Toyota Corrolla?

In terms of getting your parents to agree to this, your dad is probably more of an ally than your mom. Feign interest in his early cars (especially if he had something nic(er). Then casually mention you wish you had a car like that, and hope that he didn't work in the coal mines to pay for it.
posted by matkline at 3:23 PM on April 19, 2006

It takes 11 seconds to go 0-60.

That might not impress the kids in high school but there plenty of adults who'd love a car that they could easily use to accelerate and merge onto a busy freeway. Your car is a bucket but it'll still outrun many rental cars.

Your life is going to have some compromises. Keep on dreaming big but the sooner you get a dose of reality the happier you will be. The reality here is that $7 an hour buys you shit for a car. This may be an especially hard lesson in LA where on any drive you'll see cars more valuable than an average U.S. house. When you graduate from college and have good credit go and buy a fun car. It will get you laid but you'll end up trading it in for a minivan soon enough.

For now, save your 7-bucks an hour and use it to go on a date in your bucket. If a girl doesn't like your car you're with the wrong girl

ObMy1stCar: My first car was an ancient truck that was appropiately dubbed the "Manure Queen."
posted by deanj at 3:27 PM on April 19, 2006

joshuak, I can understand your desire for more speed, especially for passing on LA freeways. But your car is a good, safe car for someone your age. Yes, you can soup it up and get more speed but you'll also lose mileage.

By the way, make sure your tires are all inflated properly. Its the single easiest and most effective way to get your best mileage.

And wear your seatbelt.

And watch out for bikers out on the road.
posted by fenriq at 3:31 PM on April 19, 2006


you guys actually made me do it. my first callout ever. congratulations
posted by fishfucker at 3:36 PM on April 19, 2006

Mod note: a few comments removed, take your outrage to the metatalk thread
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:36 PM on April 19, 2006

Also, if your parents are frugal, it might benefit you to show your parents how much money you might save by getting a more fuel-efficient car. Compare the cost of gas over a set period of time for your car to something else (like my manual Corolla -- 40 mpg on the highway, wahoo!). It might really get them thinking, and could get them more sympathetic to your cause. If they don't end up helping you get a new one, at least they'll be on your side and spare you some grief.
posted by penchant at 3:43 PM on April 19, 2006

I think my dad bought it BECAUSE it is slow.

Joshua, I would guess you are correct in this belief. Think about this a bit. It's not easy understanding the motivations of your parents but consider for a moment - they may have very different goals when purchasing you a car than you do. They may not want you to go fast, for example, since automobile accidents are far and away the number one threat to your life right now.

So, and here is the constructive, answer-your-question part of my response: in presenting a request to your parents, you need to consider THEIR motivations, not your own.
posted by jellicle at 3:43 PM on April 19, 2006

"First of all I didn't post here to be criticized."

I got that, joshuak, and I don't want to criticize you. Criticizing your ambitions or ideas won't get you a faster set of wheels, or the skills you need to handle such a car, if you do get it.

That said, I really do want to encourage you to think about hanging out with the SCCA and NHRA crowds a while. SoCal is hot area for car culture, and if you want better cars, it helps a lot to have responsible high performance car friends. Local SCCA clubs are really active in SoCal, and you can volunteer to help with events as a means of meeting people, and developing friendships. Every guy you meet at an SCCA event is going to have been where you are right now, and "get" what it is you want to do. And a surprising number of them can be of real help in getting you where you want to go, if you look like a kid worth helping, and if you can take good advice.

Regarding bolt on speed parts, you need to be pretty careful with hop ups like turbocharger kits and nitrous rigs. The additional heat and power you generate with these devices put a lot of additional strain on your engine's cooling system and lower end, and you can basically spend a couple thousand bucks on equipment which will blow up your car pretty quickly, and have zero trade value once your car is a smoking heap of junk in your driveway. Headers and aftermarket exhaust components are cheaper, lower risk parts that you can try, and while they don't offer the performance boost of turbos or nitrous rigs, they can make a difference, with little risk of blowing your engine, and they are in the kinds of things you can do yourself.
posted by paulsc at 3:50 PM on April 19, 2006

We have a few hobby cars, older cars that are very easy to work on and look great, even amongst the high-priced luxury cars in our area.

Working on a late model car isn't as satisfying, but perhaps if you developed an interest in auto mechanics as a hobby, you could talk your parents into letting you trade up (or down, depending on how you look at it) for a vintage sports car, some tools and some parts. It's incredibly fun both to drive a cool old car and to maintain them. And everything you need to know to build a vintage car from the wheels up can be contained in one inch-thick Chilton manual.

You can find excellent, good-condition vintage cars well within the price range you're thinking of, depending on restoration level. And from experience I can tell you that our 1974 BMW 2002 gets much more attention than anyone's '06 7 series ever will outside a rap video.

Personally, safety and reliability are going to be our major concerns when it comes time to let our kids drive. But if one of them has an urge to tinker, we'd be prepared to indulge that. Maybe your parents will, too.
posted by padraigin at 3:54 PM on April 19, 2006

My first car was a 1972 Honda CB500 (ok, that's a bike not a car, but it was my first vehicle) My first actual car was a mid-80's Renault Alliance (possibly the worst car ever made.)

And like some of the others, your car is a hell of a lot nicer than mine.

That said, why go for a car at all? Pick yourself up a cheapish motorcycle and learn to do some basic tuning on it. You will be faster than almost every car in your schools parking lot for a lot less money. Also, motorcycles will quickly teach you respect for driving fast, or they will kill you.

If bikes are totally out, i would go the muscle car route. i picked up a 1965 Mustang for about $1500. It needs another $500 or so worth of body work before it's roadworthy, but it's a great project car.

My advice: keep your Subaru. They are reliable, and the wagon aspect is great for hauling friends to parties and camping, whatever. As for the gold, make a joke of it. Call it the Blingmobile or something.

And if you must spend money, get yourself something cheap, be it a bike, muscle car, or old Honda, and fix it up on your own. Don't compete with the kids who have more money than you, you will spend all your time and energy trying to look like something you aren't. Instead, spend your time learning how to tune and perfect. Your vehicle will be the best by virtue of the fact that you built/ fixed it yourself.

And if you do get a bike, do yourself a favor and get a good helmet and riding leathers.
posted by quin at 4:00 PM on April 19, 2006

I didn't have to do a lot of freeway driving in high school, but I did some, and my first car was a Honda Accord, so was my second. They both got really great mileage, and I didn't notice that it was hard to merge or pass or anything. (Sorry, I'm not a car person, so I just don't know how well they really did.) I would probably go for a Civic now, though, because the Accords have gotten so big. A recent (2001/2002) should be in your price range. I would also check out Jettas. They can be a bit more expensive for the same amount of car, and repairs can also be slightly pricier. My boyfriend, who bought his new in 1999, has been very happy with his his, though.

A heavier/slower car does not really make a safer car. Here's a New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell about active vs. passive safety. That might help you sell it to your parents.

As for jobs, I second the country club idea. I made some good money in high school polishing some golf shoes in between reading books. Caddying is another big moneymaker, and I would think that's possible all year round in LA. I also did OK as a banquet waitress.
posted by Airhen at 4:06 PM on April 19, 2006

You can pick up a nice Porsche 928 or 944 for $10-12k. It'll need some work, but Porsche owners like taking care of their cars.
posted by devilsbrigade at 4:15 PM on April 19, 2006

I won't get too preachy. Or I might, but I promise not to rag on you.

Someday, your dad's reasoning will make sense. Right now, he seems like a drag. (are kids still saying drag? Whatever, I'm winging it.) Dad's a drag. He's sort of teaching you something that will likely click in about 10 years or so. In the meantime, he's saying he cares about your well being and is putting you in a safe, slower car. Could be worse, he could have made you wear a helmet while you were driving.

So in the meantime, you've got a station wagon. Yeah it sucks. At your age, I had a 1987 Cavalier in 1995 that cost about the same as your sound system, had a pop-up moonroof and got totaled in one minor fender bender. Plus, it took me 2 years to save up the $1200 for that delicious ride. Let me stop right now because you're probably thinking, "Man, that sounds sweet. I wish I had that." Don't be jealous.

Let me get to my point. I busted ass and worked a couple jobs at the same time. I drove around a beater for a bit. Made sacrifices and (gratefully) after my car was totaled, drove around an old hand-me-down car for 2 years while I saved some more.... and then traded it in for a year-old sports car.

Back to the wagon... What can you utilize it for? Making deliveries -- at a food place, maybe a greenhouse/nursery? Are you entrepreneurial? You could start up an off-hours and weekend courier service locally. Start charging underclassmen to shuttle them around? I don't know, but short of picking up a few retail jobs or minimum wage jobs, you're going to have to be ingenious, make some sacrifices on your time and expenditures and play the hand you were dealt. If you can use the current car to your advancement, all the better.
posted by jerseygirl at 4:21 PM on April 19, 2006

What about a Corolla? Used?

I have one. It's been wonderfully reliable.

If you've ever driven in a Corolla you'll know they're zippy. Small means it's easier to parallel park. Light means when I'm driving on the highway and it's a windy day I feel like the car might blow away. But it hasn't, yet.
posted by moonshine at 4:33 PM on April 19, 2006

How can a kid make money in LA? Use your car. Make up some business cards and leave them at, say, a retirement home, advertising your services as a driver. You'll pick up groceries for a fee. You'll drop people off at the library. You'll take people to Trader Joe's and Rite Aid. You'll haul small loads for people with no car or a tiny car. Call yourself alt.taxi or something.
posted by goofyfoot at 4:48 PM on April 19, 2006

I think maybe you should save up for a WAAAHmbulance.

Get a job. Buy a better car. In the mean time, drive what you got and be thankful.
posted by Kickstart70 at 4:59 PM on April 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

Grocery service isn't a bad idea at all.
posted by devilsbrigade at 5:00 PM on April 19, 2006

Well, as previous posters have said, you probably won't much, if any, better performance without sacrificing fuel economy. That said, your car is under its rated mileage. 20 combined is actually lower than it should be getting in city driving. Does it need a tuneup or something? Are you thrashing the engine?
posted by Dipsomaniac at 5:07 PM on April 19, 2006

My first car, handed to me at 16, undented, was a used RX-7. We picked it up for 16.5K back in 89, and I'm sure one of the new ones costs way more than 12K. But if you can still find one of the rotary models, I'm sure you can do better than 12K. And they're fast.

HOWEVER - you should check out the Mazda 3. My roommate has one and that sucker is quick. If you can pick one up that's a few years old and 50K+ miles, you might get close to your price range.
posted by scarabic at 5:23 PM on April 19, 2006

#1: Your parents chose that car, in part, because insurance costs for 16 year olds (especially in Los Angeles and other metro areas) is PAINFULLY HIGH. If you get into something faster, or even just go from a wagon to a same-model sedan (or goodness forbid, a coupe) -- well, your insurance premiums will shoot up accordingly.

I'm 35, married and have two kids and three cars -- and my insurance is still less per year than my liability-only policy was on my crappy Buick when I was 16 per six months.

#2: That's actually a nice, reliable, comfortable car, and I would have killed for one like it when I was sixteen. If you're thinking that a nicer car will get members of the same/opposite sex more interested in you, forget about it: your time is better spent becoming a more interesting person. Here's a clue: if you think you're interesting because you have a fast car, you're not interesting.

#3: If you really feel that speed is a necessary part of your complete breakfast, here's what you do: get a job, buy a beater, and start running it at autocrosses. It's safe, it's fun, it's cheap, you'll get to hang out with people like yourself, and you can tell your parents "I want to do this because I really want to learn to drive fast, but I don't want to do it on the street where it will be dangerous and stupid, and I don't want to do it with my street car, because I need it for daily transportation." That will impress them, because it will make you seem more responsible. It might also convince them to buy you the beater for the track.

#4: At the end of the day, the magic of a car isn't the speed, or the style -- it's the ability you now have to drive anywhere you like, whenever you like. Nothing -- and I mean NOTHING -- you do to that car, or that you can gain by selecting a new car will give you the bang for your buck that just having a running car will. Do you realize that the only thing stopping you from driving across the country tomorrow is whether or not you're willing to do so, and your fear of upsetting your parents? Oh, and gas money.

#5: If you want your parents to buy you a better car, there's only one way: show them how responsible and appreciative you are about the one you have, and start working hard and saving money for a replacement. Either you'll eventually get another one from your parents, or you'll save up enough to buy one yourself.
posted by davejay at 5:28 PM on April 19, 2006

The legacy GT wagon is actually a pretty sweet vehicle. You should be happy you're not drivin around in a 2-tone legacy outback or an L :)

If you're intent on trading in or up, you can find higher mileage 02 Imprezas in the 10-12k range if you can be bothered to stick with the Subaru theme. definitely faster than a legacy, and they have excellent safety ratings. (could be a big selling point for the 'rents)

Also I 3rd/4th other suggestions for getting involved with your local SCCA to do some autocross. Lots of cratchety guys in Miatas and other really great drivers can be found there that would be happy to teach you what car control is all about.
posted by freq at 6:34 PM on April 19, 2006

I drove a 1973 Monte Carlo for 2 years after I turned 18. My dad bought it for me because I "saved up the money" by not participating in events through high school that would have cost him money. I didn't go on school trips, I didn't buy a class ring, etc. At one point I wanted extra money for a trip to Cedar Point - he loaned it to me and I had to pay it back. That sucked.

It was a deal we made when I turned 16: he'd get me a car when I turned 18 if I didn't ask for one earlier, and made some sacrifices (and there were the usual "get good grades" clauses in there too...)

Do you think your dad would be open to something like this? I know in your case you already have the car - but that could be a good trade in on another car (and you know that anyway). Do you think he would outright loan you the money? Have you asked him if he would - if you paid him back with interest- a business deal?
Anyway, good luck.
posted by disclaimer at 6:38 PM on April 19, 2006

I grew up on the poorer side of a very wealthy neighborhood. I drove crappy cars. I took some flack for them, but for the most part my rich friends laughed--with me--about my multicolored four-wheel drive pickup. And my ORANGE Dodge Colt.

Like you I dropped some cash into both of them to make them cool.

Throw some blingy rims on it. An obnoxiously loud exhaust. Have the only lowered Subaru in town. Lift it and install Baja lights. Whatever works.

FWIW, the high school cars I remember today aren't the BMW's or Benzes. It was the beat up VW van we played mailbox baseball in. The Volvo wagon we outran the crazy redneck in, and the Serpent. The Serpent was a friends station wagon that he was forced to drive when he blew the motor on his new 4x4 truck. We would pack 10 people in it and have a blast. BTW, it was called the Serpent because the exhaust would hiss when he punched it. That was a POS.

You live in the land of the superficial. Stand out by not driving a pimpy car.
posted by vaportrail at 6:43 PM on April 19, 2006

Perhaps you could drive this car for a while, and work hard to learn how to do all the maintainance and restoration work yourself. You could also read up on how the various performance tweaks work, and learn how to install them yourself.

Then, you could parlay this small base of knowledge and a much smaller amount of money into a cheap, old sports car, since you could try to do much of the maintainance yourself.

Realistically, I don't see a way to convince your parents to trade it in for a G35 or whatever, even if they have plenty of money. It's not a terrible car. It'll take you and your friends places, and it'll do so without outrageous discomfort.

In short, it does the things they want it to do, and they probably love you too much to buy you something obscenely fast.
posted by I Love Tacos at 6:52 PM on April 19, 2006

Oh, and auto-x is fantastic if you really want to learn how to drive. Your car will still be slow, but you'll be faster.
posted by I Love Tacos at 6:54 PM on April 19, 2006

You do realize that you'll have to pay income tax on the proceeds if you sell the car, and you'll probably have to pay sales tax on the car that replaces it. Your low income/student situation will probably absorb the former, but the latter means you're losing money just to get a variation on what you already own.
posted by furtive at 8:13 PM on April 19, 2006

Best answer: Any ideas on how to get my parents to get me a new car, or at least how to make mine faster?

You have two options. One is forced induction (turbo / supercharger). See if any other car models are using the same engine that offer turbos, because then you'll have a perfect factory bolt-on replacement. Turbos work off of exhaust-cycle air, and theoretically will give you ever-so-slightly better gas mileage, but the way it sounds like you want to drive it, not really. Superchargers run off belts which means less engine efficiency, but provide even power throughout the band and more immediate "foot-stomping" power (no need to wait for the turbo to spool up).

Here's what you should not do: slap a huge can on the end of your exhaust line. There is simply no point. The problem with your Subi isn't internal restrictions that just need to be opened up. The problem is that you just don't have enough power for all that weight.

Solution? Why not take this as an opportunity to learn about cars. Trade your Legacy in for a real car that you can actually work on yourself with a simple engine and lots of displacement. Get some tools. Get a book or two. Go nuts. If you want to get laid and want to pass people on the highway, get late-60's / early-70's GM big-block that needs some work done to it.

Many people are going to suggest you instead look to cars built in the 90's as a replacement, but this can be very poor economy. The reason is that cars built after the 70's gas crisis are crap. Disposable. Nothing on them lasts, and they're not beloved enough for aftermarket manufacturers to support. The (very, very few) exceptions to this rule are the Corvette, the Mustang, the RX-7 and the Miata.

If you want the easiest solution, I'd suggest you go with the last of those 90's cars I listed. Get a used M1 (first edition) Miata. Yeah, yeah, they're "girly" cars. Girly cars with perfect handling. Girly cars with one of the largest (#2) number of aftermarket suppliers. As in, aftermarket turbos. Aftermarket superchargers. Aftermarket exhausts. Etc. You can get a used Miata with a turbo for less than $7 grand.

And it's a convertible.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:32 PM on April 19, 2006

One other idea to mention, strictly on the performance issue. You realize that it is a lot easier to subtract weight from a vehicle than it is to increase horsepower, right? If you really want to reliably lower your zero to sixty time, without spending an arm and a leg, cut weight. If you have decent tires, it's debatable whether you really need to carry a spare and a jack everywhere you go. Talk to your folks, but I bet you can store that stuff in the garage, and if you ever need it, have them bring it to you, wherever you have a flat. When it's time to replace the battery, as it will be soon, look for a high efficiency small form factor racing battery, to save around 15 pounds of weight. Don't carry around a bunch of junk, just because you've got a wagon. If you have removable rear seats, and don't need them daily, remove 'em. If you want to get really serious, consider digging up a set of low weight racing shells to replace your existing front seats (bonus feature: if you find racing shells you really like, you can take them with you to the next performance car you own). If you have steel wheels, hit the local junkyards for deals on alloy rims. If you can get 200 pounds of dead weight out of the car, you've accomplished the same thing for acceleration as adding 50 horsepower, plus you stop quicker and with less brake wear, and corner with less body roll and tire effort.

There was a reason all the old hot rod guys ran around without bumpers, wheel covers, and extra chrome. Less is more.
posted by paulsc at 11:41 PM on April 19, 2006

Response by poster: wow, people finally stopped ragging on me and started being helpful. Thanks!
My friend, who has a WRX, actually recommended the RX-7 to me too
posted by joshuak at 11:58 PM on April 19, 2006

I have to say, you can't really complain about people being pissed with you when you say "I got a free car. I don't like it. Help me scam a new one".

That aside, for 12 grand you can get a ton of different cars. The Miata is a fantastic car for aftermarket stuff, and it often blows people away when you SMOKE THEM in your little "girly" car. You could go the riceboy route, and pick up an older Civic/Accord/Neon/Cavalier/etc, and supe it up, but then you'll look back on yourself in 10 years and say "damn... I can't believe I spent 15 grand suping up a CIVIC". The RX7 is a nice car, but may be a bit on the overpriced side because they tend to be in high demand among the riceboy crowd as well. See also: Supra, Eagle Talon. I found the old Celica GTs (the body style before the current one, which I find impossible to see out of) quite nice, but I'm not sure how reliable they are.

However, if you are paying your own insurance, be prepared to be ANALLY RAPED with cars other than your Subaru. Hell, even if you decide to turbo/supercharge your current car, your insurance could go through the roof (unless you don't tell them, which I recommend against).
posted by antifuse at 2:56 AM on April 20, 2006

Get a VW Bug. Put in a 2-litre engine, with twin Weber IDF carburettors. If you want it to sound loud, fit a phat-boy exhaust. It'll go fast enough to have your passengers screaming, and you'll get noticed.
posted by veedubya at 4:26 AM on April 20, 2006

Something else to look at is the transmission. I bet you're rocking an automatic. Time to learn stick. Better milage, better acceleration. Hell, I can take people off the block with my inline 4 Tercel because I know how to drive it. Here's advice on how to do it with an Imprezza.

Maybe if you learn to drive stick you won't come across as such an entitled douche. Anyway, it can't hurt.
posted by klangklangston at 7:08 AM on April 20, 2006

I realize you're asking for a higher performance car, but:

I'll second or third or whatever the motorcycle suggestion -- start with something used and crappy for 6 months or so, then upgrade to a newer/faster bike. You're young enough that I believe you must take the MSF course (Motorcycle Safety Foundation), but I'd recommend taking it even if it wasn't a requirement - I've taken the basic course once and the experience rider's course twice.

I used to care about fast, sporty cars. Then I got a motorcycle. I could do 0-60 in less than 3 seconds on 3 of the 5 bikes I've owned, in 4 seconds on the bike I currently own (a BMW)... not that I actually pin the throttle all that often anymore.

If your parents' motivation in buying you a subaru was to make sure you're safe, you might experience some resistance form them in this.

Lastly, a few good reasons to go the motorcycle route in California - better gas mileage, access to the HOV lanes, and lanesplitting is legal. Plus, the weather is good to ride year round. The downside is that insurance is pretty costly for sportbikes in California. Cheers!
posted by cactus at 7:15 AM on April 20, 2006

Oh, something else that's comparitively cheap— Get a new paintjob. You can get custom work done that will make the car cooler, as well as less likely to get pulled over (gold is next to red for inflaming cops).
posted by klangklangston at 7:16 AM on April 20, 2006

1) subarus are great for going places no other normal car will go- mud? snow? rocks? no road? no problem. I haven't noticed them lacking torque- just hp.

2) that said, Honda Accords can be tricked out relatively easily- there are a ton of car groups and websites about them. (manual transmission, of course)
posted by small_ruminant at 8:35 AM on April 20, 2006

Here are some sports cars that get good gas mileage:
Porsche 914
Honda CRX
Toyota MR2
These are cars (like the Miata) are fast and fun. Plus there is plenty of aftermarket stuff you can get to make them faster and funner.

Also, this is pretty sweet, but doesn't get amazing MPG.
posted by zonkout at 9:13 AM on April 20, 2006

I'd be careful about the Rx-7 - I had a '93 model and although it drove like a bat out of hell and handled beautifully, it was a real bear to maintain and keep going. Those parts were built for speed, not durability and I can't imagine your parents are going to be too excited about a a few thousand dollars worth of repair bills on a yearly basis. I might be the exception though, not sure about how other people's experiences have been. It is my understanding that the rotary engine isn't very durable and you'll want to get a model that has received a fairly recent engine replacement.

Sorry you got so much noise on this quetion.
posted by rks404 at 9:22 AM on April 20, 2006

you want torque? I'LL GIVE YOU TORQUE!


if you can find it in the US (I don't live there, sorry) buy used a snazzy Italian torque miracle, 210 Hp.

check out the engine graph:

Lancia Delta Integrale is a late-1980s early '90s bad motherfucker. I'm sure it's way cheaper than many other American or Japanese, newer options. you'll have the time of your life. ignore the haters here, they just like to mind other people's business.

and if you really have to keep your bucket, at least have it painted shiny black, and get some more aggressive rims. it'll look faster. and you liv in a huge city with a good car culture, I'm sure you can locate some guy who'll soup that engine up just a little bit, it's not that hard really.
posted by matteo at 9:54 AM on April 20, 2006

(if you soup it up, it'll be noisier, though)
posted by matteo at 9:56 AM on April 20, 2006

Sell the Subie and buy an old Honda CRX, Nissan NX2000, Miata, or one of the other popular mid-ninties pocket rockets.

They're useless for hauling friends around, but they handle beautifully, have very sporty acceleration, a shipload of mods that are reasonably-priced, and are cheap on fuel. Plus, as older cars, you might have a chance of actually being able to afford the insurance on them.

I very much suspect insurance is going to stop you from doing what you really want to do.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:58 AM on April 20, 2006

I'm going to answer this one the same way I'd answer question starting with "How can I convince my parents..." You do it by figuring out what your parents' concerns are, and then proposing a solution that takes their concerns into account. Just saying you want a different car won't work. You need to present them with a plan, and explain to them why your plan is a good one.

I don't know your parents, so I can't tell you what issues they would raise or what they would consider good arguments. (I can bet that speed isn't something they'd consider a plus, however.)

You representation should go something like this: M and D, I really appreciate your buying me a car. The one I have is very good; but I think I have a way for me to get one that you and I will think is even better, if I sell this one at it book value of X dollars. (Show them print-out that gives book value for same age/condition car.) The gas mileage on my car is only 20 mpg. I've done some research, and I can get one of these ______s which gets 28 mpg. I can get a (year and model of other car) for about $Y. (Show them ads to prove it.) The new car would cost $Z more than the one I have now. Here is how I can make up the difference:_______.

See what I mean? You have to have a plan, not just a bunch of complaints and wishes.
posted by wryly at 4:53 PM on April 20, 2006

You want slow? When I was in high schoool I was driving my parents '78 Volkswagen Camper. 0-60 in, I kid you not, 28 seconds. I would not have traded a car that has beds for anything, though. You've got a wagon; forget about speed -- think "bed". If it's not big enough trade it in for a huge 70's era land boat with a power reclining front bench seat -- forget about your buckets -- another car I was happy to drive -- which can *seat* nine people and has a V8 bigger than your current car. Ah… good times.
posted by Dick Paris at 8:36 PM on April 20, 2006

deanj writes "It will get you laid but you'll end up trading it in for a minivan soon enough."

Minivans don't have to be boring. And the mechanics of getting laid are a lot easier within than any two seater sports car.

scarabic writes "My first car, handed to me at 16, undented, was a used RX-7. We picked it up for 16.5K back in 89, and I'm sure one of the new ones costs way more than 12K. But if you can still find one of the rotary models, I'm sure you can do better than 12K. And they're fast."

All RXs are rotarys but gas mileage isn't their strong suit.

I'd stick with the Subie, at least for a while. They have a great following on the internet yet still manage to stay cheap. The 90s version of the 60s VW Bug. Plus the option is there to swap in turbos and engines while still keeping your nice cheap Subaru wagon insurance rates.

Besides if you learn to drive a slow car fast you'll be able to drive a faster car faster[1]. Horsepower tends to be a crutch that stops people from learning how to maintain momentum and drive a line. Buy a muscle or sports car of 60-70s vintage (Chevy anything or Ford Mustang if you want to just buy parts, anything else if you actually want to work at it a bit). Learn how to improve it (and fix it which you'll be doing alot[2]) and keep the Subie as your commuter and back up car for when your fun car breaks down.

[1] I've driven/owned everything from an air cooled Honda car to 450hp big block fire breathers. A low power car is hard to drive fast but practise with it makes driving a powerful car easier.

[2]You know what they say about sports cars: Appreciated by few and rebuilt $5.00 at a time...
posted by Mitheral at 11:15 AM on April 21, 2006

Response by poster: i can get a turbocharger!?!?
That's cool but I'd rather get it supercharged. I think.
If I could beat my friends WRX (not STI) that would kick ass. but not realistic.

How expensive is a turbocharger and how hard would it be to install it myself?
posted by joshuak at 11:54 PM on April 25, 2006

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