Make your kid’s first ride an ’80s pony car

As kids start heading back to school, many new drivers are hoping to make a statement in the school parking lot by rolling in with a sweet classic ride on the first day. However, these dreams are often quickly dashed when parents explain to them the fortune it takes to insure a classic car, as well as a new driver.

Parents need to be realistic: it's not reasonable to make a huge investment in your kid's first car. Chances are that if you get them a new car for the school year, they will treat it like a new toy, resulting in it getting stolen, broken or towed. If your kid hasn't saved up to buy their own car, but they deserve, or at least need, their own set of wheels, there are a lot of classic options that won't embarrass your kids or break the bank.

One common and classic ride that appeals to young girls and boys is a 1980s Mustang. These weren't the best years for the Mustang mark, but these cars were still some of the best performance models on the market. At first sight they may appear pretty generic, but these beasts could move, at least by '80s standards. The 1985 Mustang SVO was a great performer, and probably had the best design package of any model from the era. With its fastback design, it looked pretty fast, and was one of the only convertibles worth its salt to come out at the time. The name Mustang alone adds a level of coolness to the car that your kid will definitely appreciate.

GM did its part as well in contributing an acceptable muscle car to the generally lackluster lineup American drivers had to choose from throughout the '80s. The F-bodies of the time were actually pretty stellar rides, with exteriors and interiors that far exceed those of models churned out in the '90s. In fact, the IROC-Z, which lived from '85 to '90, is one of many milestones in the Camaro lineage, as it was lighter and more powerful than most of its predecessors over the previous decade. If you don't feel comfortable putting your kid behind the wheel of a high-performance Camaro, even standard models look slick and will turn heads in any high school lot.

The Trans Am is another '80s icon built on the F-body platform that has developed a huge following over the past few decades. These models were extremely popular at the time, making used ones pretty easy to find if you look in the right place. However, many Trans Ams of the time were given some pretty loud paint jobs, so be sure to avoid one with a large firebird painted on the hood, which is sure to embarrass kids with even the most ironic senses of humor.

The '80s produced a lot of other worthy models that are perfect for a new driver. Pretty much any pony-car from this period is an appropriate ride for a new driver. Though many collectors covet these models, the stock versions of these classic nameplates were significantly less impressive than their predecessors in the '60s and '70s. Engines weren't as big following the gas crisis, and flashy technology largely became the hallmark of a quality ride rather than speed. Therefore, parents who buy their kids one of these cars won't have to worry about their kid driving as fast as mom and dad did when they were back in high school.