QOTD: Which Student Car?

Last month my daughter passed her G2 road test, so we’re a four driver family now.  It’s a good thing I’m still working from home because that same week she got a part time job at Canadian Tire.  Now she takes the Caravan to be there at 4 or 5pm, when I would normally still be at work.

Additionally, my son is expecting to start his first university co-op work term in January.  Uncertainty is high due to Covid, but if he manages to find a placement it may be remote and online or it may be in person.

A student car could be on the horizon for our family.  Good grief, that would make 6 vehicles (even if 3 of them don’t get driven in the winter).

Before we get into this you should put this great blues track from Larry Garner on to get in the right frame of mind:

My criteria for a student car is that it must have a manual transmission and cost under $10k Canadian.  Being slightly interesting would be a bonus, here’s what I’m thinking so far:


1 – Toyota Yaris.  I think a student car should have some punitive quality to it, and a Yaris certainly fits that bill and is the cheapest thing to get the job done.  These are tough little cars, regularly showing up in the classifieds with over 300,000km on them.  


2 – Jeep TJ.  This would have the benefit of being much, much cooler while still being punitive (or is that punishing?).  The newest TJs were built in 2006 and rust is an issue around these parts.  An un-rusted un-modified TJ commands a good price, and although a removable top may be a hit with young people will they enjoy the jouncy ride and vague handling?


3 – Mini Clubman.  I’ve driven one of these and it was a hoot, the stretched Clubman version has more room for camping or loading a mountain bike through the split rear doors.  Most ads for older Minis seem to include a long list of parts that were recently replaced, which is a bit disconcerting..


4 – Acura RSX.  I really like these, one of my co-workers has one and it’s an enjoyable, reliable car.  As I commented on David Saunders’ auction post a couple of days ago it is difficult to find one that’s not rusted or modded or both.  And as you can see there is a hefty price premium for a nice example.


5 – Scion TC.  Certainly not a looker like the RSX, but reliable Camry mechanicals wrapped in a coupe body could convey the right message for a young accountant.  And the hatchback can still swallow the mountain bike and other bulky items.


6 – Honda Element.  This is a bit of a wild card, these have really grown on me but I suspect the kids would be horrified.  Most Elements I’ve seen for sale are used up with high kilometers, owners of good ones seem to cherish and hang on to them.  Still, manual transmission and lots of space is a draw.


7 – Ford Focus / BMW 3 Series.  Another idea is to let the kids drive our 2013 Focus and upgrade Mrs DougD’s car.  Manual transmission – check!  Sub $10k price – well……

So that’s it for now.  Who knows what’ll happen but I’ve got a pretty big spread of vehicles to consider.  Do you have any suggestions, warnings or encouragement on how a Dad can keep all these cars running?