IDeal First Car

Hi everyone,

I just received my driving’s license and am looking for a first car.
As an industrial designer it has to look at least somewhat representative of the field.

I prefer a compact yet safe used car. It can be an older model or even oldtimer as long as the budget is not too steep (<$6k) and it’s a reliable build. It has to be fuel-efficient with < 90,000 mileage.

I also prefer:

  • Tablet docking station
  • Storage for A4 sized sheets
  • Light interior
  • AT is OK
  • Right-seated driver is OK
  • Little backseat space and small trunk OK

As for design I like simplicity with a future-oriented aesthetic and some elegance and power.

I am considering:

  • Alfa Romeo GT 2.0 JTS 2004 in silver
  • Alfa Romeo 147 1.6-liter Twin Spark
  • VW Golf 2.3 v5, blue
  • BMW Z3 Roadster, blue
  • BMW 1-series 118d High Executive
  • Toyota MR2 1.8 16V

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

I would go with the MR2. Toyotas are the most reliable cars and those MR2s are fun.

Why not consider a Miata too? I loved mine. More historically oriented aesthetics, but an amazing car to daily drive.

I would go to BMW Z3 Roadster and Toyota MR2. The BMW one looks really cool but you should consider the fuel consumption. Toyota is a reliable brand, my Toyota Prius 2011 I purchased last year is very great for family’s purposes. Although it’s a used car I got from a Japanese platform (, cheap price but cool features.

All good choices. Not sure about the reliability of the Alphas.

Its not on your list, but if you’re looking at the Toyota MR2 I would highly recommend the Toyota 86 (the FRS/BRZ twins). I have it and love it. Excellent handling (and in my biased opinion), gorgeous.

I don’t see how your list connects to your wishes very well. Burned my fingers on Alfas myself. But I’d do it again.
Not sure about them being great first cars if you do not wish to wrench.

The first gen. Audi TT Coupes experience historically great value right now.

Something whacky from Japan? Seat Leon?

I noticed a 1st gen. TT that looks forgotten in a drive way in my neighborhood. I’m tempted to try and see if I could get a deal on it come spring time. Really cool car.

This is what I drive: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: It was the best kind of car: Free! the funniest part is the owner before the last used it as a “show” car

Any car that is a “deal” upfront is exponentially the opposite of a deal later. Best guideline is to but the most expensive and best example you can afford of any used or classic car. A $30k Ferrari is worse than a $30k vintage Honda Civic any day.


The Ferrari has far greater potential upside, however.

Upside spending $$$$$ to get something you can’t drive or sell?


$$$ put into a restoration/repair is rarely recovered.

As for getting “fun” out of your money, the Honda makes much more sense. ymmv.

What did you get?

Thanks for all your ideas!

I am still sharing cars with my girlfriend who has a BMW 3-series with an epic corn yellow interior, but it is in its last days so we are both looking at new ones. She and her family are very BMW-loyal, and I am definitely thinking of the 1st gen. TT, there are a few available with little mileage. I wonder if the backseats are OK for people ranging from 5’0" to 5’10". I am enthusiastic about their design language again too with the new Q8 being one of the better SUVs in terms of design. I am also looking at the Volvo C30.

The back seat is very small in a TT coupe. Really only suitable for children or an adult for less than 5 minutes :slight_smile:

My dad had two of the original gun (coupe/convertible) and now has the last gen. Later gen you can maybe fit people in the back. First gen we called then pizza box seats because you can barely have fit a pizza box vertically between the back of the front seat and rear seat. Great cars tho!

I haven’t been in a q8, but my mom has a q3. I found it very cheap feeling (light doors, etc.). Same for the volvo c30 last time I was in it. Felt very plastic-y, like a mini.

I’m maybe a bit biased tho as I like the older, solid cars. BMW Z3 is kinda interesting, especially if you can find the hatchback one. I’ve also always been a fan of the BMW 1 series. Can’t really go wrong with a Golf…

What about something older and more unique for the design side of things? For $6k you can probably get a great condition older car that is solid. Mercedes 190? BMW e28? '01 Honda Prelude? Not sure what is available in Europe…


Any car that runs reliably is the perfect first car. Need storage for all that stuff? Make it…

Why isn’t the Mini on your list? I think it screams “industrial designer”, and on top of that I believe many of the models are assembled in the Netherlands.

When I was your age I had two Volvo 480 in succession. Ideal image for an ID student. The V30 should be more reliable.
I like them. But color sensitive. I’d say anything that is European, upmarket, sturdy and not a Golf.