There are so many cars in the world that teen car enthusiasts like myself would be happy to get behind the wheel of; however, these views do not often align with those of parents, as they are largely concerned about reliability, gas mileage, and other factors that we deem unnecessary. This means that if teens who are interested in cars would like a specific one, they often have to buy it for themselves. I curated a few cars that, with a few summer jobs and hard work, you could possibly purchase.
The 2005-2013 Subaru WRX is a very fun car to drive. It is a 305 horsepower all-wheel-drive car. This means that you can have fun in all four seasons. The car has an iconic rear wing and tons of other aftermarket parts. These cars are cheap to tune, and many people know how to do modifications on them because they are commonly found in the car community. This car has the deep “subie rumble,” which is a deep exhaust note, with pops and bangs when you shift. This car can be found in manual and automatic configurations.
Arguably the best cheap drift car out there is the 2009 Nissan 350Z, coming in at about 330 horsepower. This rear-wheel-drive beast is ready to go from the factory. The car has a 50-50 weight distribution which is perfect for drifting and well-rounded driving. These cars also come with tons of aftermarket potential to improve their performance and drifting ability. This car is also often found in a manual, which is ideal for drifting but can also be automatic for less spirited drivers. The only downside to this car is that it is rear-wheel drive, so you can’t drive it in the snow very well.
The 2012 Audi S4 is a true beast of an engine. This car is the Audi A4 body with a 5.6L V8 engine put into it. This machine pushes 333 horsepower to the very light body. However, with a stage -two tune for about $1,500, you can increase that to 480 horsepower, which is insane. The tech features in this car are ahead of their time. Currently, this car is personally my favorite. There are many subtle aftermarket parts that you can add to the car that make the exterior look even better. Given their V8 engine, these cars sound mean when the exhaust is upgraded. The Audi Quattro all-wheel-drive system is one of the best on the market, right behind Subaru, meaning you can drive this car regardless of the weather. The only downside of this car, which is typical of Audis, is increased oil consumption, and parts are expensive and labor-intensive to fix if something goes wrong.
The best generation of the Mazda Miata is from 1990-1995, so you can get the iconic pop-up headlights. Unfortunately, these cars used to be around $1,200, but recent trendiness has raised the cost to about $8,000. This car is underpowered, but it is small and light enough so you can do burnouts (the practice of keeping a vehicle stationary and spinning its wheels, causing the tires to smoke). However, you do not buy this car for speed; it is rather just to cruise around. This is the only convertible on this list, so it is special in this way. This car gets better gas mileage than most on this list because the engine is so small. However, this car is only to be driven on sunny days since it is a convertible. Also, it is rear-wheel drive, which limits the days that this car be used even further. The car is not worth upgrading to if you are staying under your 15K budget; rather, people usually engine swap this car to get any real power. Upgrading the factory engine will still result in an underpowered car, so it’s a waste of money.
Heading in a different direction is the 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee XJ. This is a cheap off-road rig that can be picked up for a couple of thousand dollars. With some upgraded suspension and a lift kit, bigger tires, and a lightbar, you are ready to hit the trails for a cheap price. This SUV doesn’t offer the best driving experience on the road, so only buy this if you plan to hit the trails.
Now, chances are that each of these vehicles when you first get them will have their fair share of leaks and problems, which just gives them character. With that being said, it is essential to have some knowledge of cars and how to operate them to be appropriately maintained. Lastly, all of these cars (except for the Jeep) will have a pretty costly insurance rate that comes with them because they are not reliable, fast, cheap cars.