Study Finds Nearly 8 in 10 People Say Their First Car was Used or Hand-Me-Down

Nothing says freedom like hitting the open road in your very first car. It’s like Christmas, only better.

Study Finds Nearly 8 in 10 People Say Their First Car was Used or Hand-Me-Down

In honor of that special feeling we took a ride down memory lane and surveyed more than 500 people across the U.S. about their first cars.

We found that nearly 8 in 10 people’s first car was used or a hand-me-down from a relative. The average cost of these previously loved cars was about $4,000. For the few that were lucky enough (or hardworking enough) to get a brand new first car, the average purchase price was just more than $10,000.

We also learned that men were nearly twice as likely to have gotten a brand new first car than women. Millennials are almost 10% less likely to have gotten a brand new car than Gen-Xers.

Looking For A First Car?

We recently put together a list a of the best cars for first time drivers. Here are a few things you might want to look for in your first car:

  • Something incredibly fuel efficient
  • A car you can ding up without costing a fortune
  • A hatchback
  • Top-rated safety models
  • Something fun and exciting
We turned to our friends on Reddit to give us some of their nostalgic first car stories:

Turbocharged Minivan
“[My first car was] an ‘89 caravan. I picked it because my mom ‘sold’ it to me for $200. It was already in the driveway. It was a turbocharged manual that ran a 14 second quarter mile and I loved it.”

“I had this glorious 1986 Ford Bronco XLT. I spent $2,200 on it, had 155,000 miles and minimal rust, everything worked. Everything worked except when it was cold and it wouldn't start because the carb was too big. It sounded glorious and only left me stranded half a dozen times over a few years.”

Light, Fun and Flickable
“2001 Mercury Cougar 5 Speed V6, oh man the day i got that car was probably one of the happiest moments of my life. It was so light, fun and flickable, but not so reliable. The V6 pushed the car quick enough to push you back in the seat while full throttle. Learnt to drive manuals in that car as well, it will always have a place in my heart. I would probably still drive it if it hadn't broken down.”

Part of the Family
“[My first car was] 1995 Ford Contour. My parents bought it new when I was born because both their cars/trucks didn't have a backseat to put me in. It was my mom's daily driver until the early 2000s, it just kinda sat and rotted for a while after that … I woke that car up from the dead and asked a lot of it … I beat the living hell out that car, but it just kept on trucking … I don't know, I've got a special connection to that car. It was literally bought for me as a baby to take me around and keep me safe. I learned to drive in it. It was my first car. I learned how to wrench on cars with it. I was in that car all day everyday for work. That car is what made me love cars and become the car guy I am. It was there for me when I was a baby, and it was there when I needed a car of my own. I love that car.”

Want more first car memories? Check out the first car’s of the Instamotor team.

First Time Drivers
Brionna LewisBrionna Lewis

Brionna is on a roller coaster that only goes up. You can follow her on twitter @BrionnaLewis.