7 Cars Every High School Student Should Own

nissan 350z

High school, a gathering of dorks, jocks, and nerds all scrambled together trying to learn a thing or two. High school might not be the prime of our lives, but there is a time during high school that some of us just won’t ever forget: our 16th birthday (or 17th, depending on what state you live in)! It’s the day we get our driver’s license! Freedom!

Up to that point, everyone had to get driven around by their parents. But once you get your driver’s license, your world opens up. For months or even years, you’ve been saving up and pinching pennies, all in order to buy a car. And then you’re left with a decision of what car to go with.

If this is where you’re at, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I’m going to show you 7 cars that every high school student should own!

Nissan 350Z – A+ Style

2005 nissan 350z
Mecum Auctions

Every high schooler has to own a fun rear-wheel drive car, so why not own one of the best? The Nissan 350Z is one of the best all-around sports cars on the market! After the JDM royalty 300ZX got discontinued, Nissan went back to the drawing board to come up with a new generation of Z. We actually have a video about it if you’re interested. And, man, did they knock it out of the park!

The Nissan 350Z debuted in 2002 and it was an instant hit! Engineers at Nissan and specialty tuning company NISMO partnered up to create one of the best chassis for any car. They paired that with a rev-happy V6 that sure knows how to hit those high notes! Sure, the styling is fairly understated, but the aftermarket has had its way with this car. So, if you can dream it, it can be done.

With a bit of money, the 350Z can be made into a drifter’s delight or a track toy terror! And it doesn’t take much to change between the two. I bet if you were to go to your high school, chances are you’d see a handful of them out in the lot. Most will be modified, and they all will be different. And let me let you in on a little secret: people are starting to realize how good these cars are and prices are actually starting to go up!

So, go out there and get your hands on a clean one for less than $10,000, and sit on it and wait for it to be double that. Not too long ago, you could get these for less than $5,000, but now the same car will be right around $8,000! So why not ride the wave and take the 350Z to the moon!

This next car is also one that you should definitely own in high school: a Subaru!

Subaru – Pass It On

2020 subaru wrx

From a WRX to an Outback, any Subaru will do! They’re powered by boxer motors and they all send power to all four wheels! Subarus are great because they’re incredibly stable and fun to toss around. And even if you don’t get the turbo-four in the WRX, they have enough power to get you around. As long as you pair your car with their five-speed manual transmission, you’ll get yourself a fun and capable first car to learn stick on!

From dirt roads to ski passes, Subarus will take you where you need to go without breaking a sweat! Between Outbacks and Foresters starting at a price you could afford with your stimulus check to the WRX at around $8,000, you’re sure to find them at school, and for good reason.

They’re pretty reliable and just about every nut and bolt is interchangeable between models, so it’s not uncommon to see things like an STI-swapped Forester. Talk about a sleeper! The truth is that no matter which Subaru that you get, as long as it’s a manual car, chances are that you’ll love it.

That reminds me of the next car on our list, the BMW E46 3 Series.

BMW E46 3 Series – Auto Shop Special

bmw e46 3 series
Honest John Classics

Widely regarded as the most reliable generation of 3 Series, the E46 generation was produced from 1997 to 2006 and spanned 14 models with 5 different body styles, so it’s fair to say that there’s an E46 for you. Sure, not everyone can afford the M3, but chances are that you can afford a lower-trim model.

Most E46s come with less than 200 horsepower, but pair that with a manual and you’ve got yourself one of the most fun cars to drive on the road! Just be warned they’re still BMWs, so repairs do get expensive quickly. They are reliable, but it’s German reliability. If you don’t do any maintenance, it’ll bite you.

The good news is that if you blow a motor or decide to really go “full send” with mods, these chassis are great for engine swaps. I’m talking about the LS, or the JZ, and even the RB! E46s are great for just about anything because they’re lightweight, which gives them a great handling feel. But, just don’t take the car past its limits. Ouch!

If you’re able to keep it between the lines, an E46 might just be for you! Pick yourself up a lower model like a 323i for less than $3,000, or step up into a 330Ci for a bit less than $6,000. And I bet if you use the Ideal Car Strategies, you could easily be rolling around in one of these baller Bimmers for even less than $5,000!

An E46 is a great cheap, lightweight, front-engine, rear-drive car. But what if you want something that requires less work and lets you go topless? Miata, baby!

Mazda Miata – Easy Test Answer

2001 mazda miata
Bring a Trailer

Miata is always the answer, and that holds true here too! It’s cheap, fun, good on gas, and tons of high schoolers should own one. Sure, the Miata doesn’t have a ton of power, but power just gets you in trouble. And, in high school, you don’t want trouble, trust me. And even though the Miata doesn’t have a ton of power, that doesn’t mean it’s not fun.

On the contrary, the Miata is one of the most fun cars on the road today thanks to its small, lightweight body and its punchy little engine. It carves corners like nobody’s business! While the secret is out on the NA models, you can still pick up an NB model for surprisingly cheap, which leaves you plenty of room for modifications.

And the Miata is a perfect little car to learn how to wrench on. From simple oil changes to more complex clutch changes, the Miata is a perfect stepping stone into the car world. And the fact that you can get yourself one for less than $6,000 might just make it one of the best buys on this list, not to mention that they’re actually going up in value! So, hop on it while you still can!

Now, if you just need a truck, we still got you covered! And it’s got to be a Toyota!

Toyota Tacoma – Econ 101

2020 toyota tacoma
Auto Trader

The benchmark of reliability is Toyota, and they make some pretty solid trucks if you ask me. And the Tacoma is the best of the bunch! For a high schooler, you want something that’s still easily maneuverable in tight school parking lots, but you also want something that will last lifetimes.

Toyota trucks can’t be stopped! And Top Gear definitely proved that by sinking it in the ocean, hitting it with a wrecking ball, and putting it on top of an exploding building! So, it’s fair to say that if they couldn’t destroy it, you probably couldn’t either, which is perfect for someone just learning how to drive. You know who you are.

Most Tacomas come with V6s, which do a good job of balancing power and fuel economy for a truck. But, let’s be honest, the best part of a truck is its off-road capabilities, and Tacomas are up there with the best. They’ll give Jeep Wranglers a run for their money. That’s because they’re relatively lightweight and have a solid four-wheel drive system that has a great low-range crawl system that will claw its way through any terrain. From desert running to rock crawling, the Tacoma does it all.

And, let me tell you, spend some money on modifications, and not only will they be offroad beasts, but they can look pretty badass too! You can pick up old, super-high-mileage ones for less, but if you’ve got the money, the second-generation Tacoma is the one to have. A single-cab, four-wheel drive model will be thousands less than a full double-cab, but both could be had for less than $10,000!

And while the Tacoma is the most expensive car on our list, think of it as an investment. These trucks don’t lose value, so they’re definitely prime Ideal Car Strategies material.

But, if the Tacoma is out of your budget, I’ve got a better pick for you, the Volkswagen Jetta.

Volkswagen Jetta – Do Your Homework

2020 volkswagen jetta
J.D. Power

Sure, a Volkswagen Jetta might be cheaper, but that doesn’t make it bad. It’s not well-known as the Golf, but it shares a lot of components. And, like the Golf, the Jetta comes in its fair share of variants. From a fuel efficiency-focused model to one made just for fun, the Jetta has it all! And all for reasonable prices, which makes it one of the best choices for high school students!

If it were me, I’d stretch my budget and get a Jetta GLI, the Jetta version of the Golf GTI. But don’t be fooled, that’s not the only sporty Jetta. Get yourself a boxy fourth-generation 1.8-liter turbo or a punchy VR6, or get yourself a newer fifth-generation where most models come with half a Lamborghini motor!

Yes, you heard me right! They come with a 2.5-liter inline-five-cylinder which shares its head with the Audi R8 V10 and the Lamborghini Gallardo. It’s basically a Lambo! And it’s not uncommon to find these paired with a third pedal!

So, sure, the fourth-generation Jettas won’t cost as much as the fifth generation, but I’d probably go with the newer fifth generation and, luckily, they still won’t break the bank! We found a blue inline-five fifth-generation model for less than $4,000!

But, whichever model or engine you, get these Jettas won’t let you down, unless you feel the call of the wild. In that case, I’d point you towards a Jeep Wrangler.

Jeep Wrangler – Live For the Weekend

2021 jeep wrangler
Hollywood Chrysler Jeep

From the Barbie Jeep to the jock’s bro-dozer, a Jeep Wrangler is perfect for just about any high school student. They’ve been around for generations, doing everything from transporting troops to terrorizing trails, and that means it’s ready for just about any terrain you could throw at it. And, of course, your high school parking lot counts too!

While Jeeps might not pack the biggest punch when it comes to horsepower, they definitely don’t have any problem when it comes to off-roading. And if you want to go extreme off-roading, someone has already made a modification for that. The modifications for Jeeps rival some of the JDM legends, and chances are that if you go and buy a Wrangler, it’ll already have some sort of modification.

The Jeep life revolves around personalization, and you’re committing a sin if you don’t modify your Jeep! Just look at Tina! So, if you want to step yourself up into a Wrangler, you’re going to have to shell out at least $4,000 to $5,000. Get yourself one with low miles and subtle modifications!

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