Nine great cars for back to school
4. BMW 3-Series
Vintage: Late 1980s to early 1990s
Price Range: $2,000 to $6,000
Parents may remember these original “hip-to-be-square” BMWs as the rolling embodiment of the decade of greed. However, reasonable ownership costs, sharp (but not too sharp) performance, and timeless styling have kept this car relevant among enthusiasts and budget-conscious car buyers alike.
Be wary of cheap and tattered examples. As with all second- or third-hand European autos, it’s worth paying a premium for one that’s been cared for. Make sure the seller has some service records for the car, or at least get a specialist mechanic’s opinion.
Parents will like: If it doesn’t start, at least it will still look good in the driveway.
Students will like: Come on, dad … it’s a Bimmer!
Downsides: Not the easiest machine to control in rough weather, and will become unreliable quickly if routine maintenance is overlooked.