There are few things more anxiety inducing than putting your teenager behind the wheel of a car. It takes a great investment of both trust, time and money to make this happen, but you can save money by investing more time and trust in your child. Buying a project car that you and your future driver can work to return to a safe and legal state will allow you both the time you need to get comfortable with the idea of a teen driver, and help you develop the trust necessary to put him or her behind the wheel.
Finding the Right Car
As with any project car, avoid anything with structural damage to the frame of the vehicle, as this will be the only thing you can't replace easily if it goes wrong. With the right resources, body panels, engine components, and other parts can be found and installed. Focus on starter vehicles with low maintenance and good gas mileage to make it more affordable for your child to get where they're going.
Frames, bodies and partial engines can often be found through used car dealers, used parts dealers, scrap yards, or online ads. Depending on the initial state of what you find, you may need to start well in advance of your teen getting their license. Once you've found a project car, reach out to local auto parts stores to find out whether they have parts in stock, or can back order parts for your make and model.
More Than Just Parts
Even if you're not terribly mechanically inclined, a good auto parts store can do more than just sell you the components. Many have detailed repair manuals for purchase and expert advice from people who have experience with all manner of vehicles. Best of all, many parts stores will happily refer you to the right people to get hard to find parts, or parts that they simply don't carry.
Be aware that the older your project car is, the less likely you are to find brand new components, so be prepared to get in contact with used parts dealers. Some used parts dealers work with major automotive stores, making it possible for you to find what you need in the same place every time. This is something you should ask your local parts store about in advance, to avoid an unpleasant delay part way through your project.
It might seem like a lot of work to rebuild your teenager's first car before they ever get behind the wheel, but if you work with them you'll find that they value the result more. As an added benefit, if something goes wrong or the car breaks down, you'll both be more than prepared to fix it on your own, or at least diagnose the problem for free.
For more information on auto parts, contact a professional like Hawaii Import Parts.