I hear this all the time, “ I just want to get a beater car for a thousand or two, and learn on it so I won’t kill the clutch of my dream car when I get it.” My advice is don’t bother, for a number of reasons. Some being financial, some being to preserve your sanity, but all the reasons point the same way, avoid getting a “trainer” car if you already have your dream car in mind, let me elaborate.
If you are going to buy a used beater car, you will end up scouring Craigslist, or Marketplace, or god forbid OfferUp looking for this cheap but minimally reliable unicorn car, and hopefully isn’t a stone-cold lemon. This will take hours, and countless talks with sellers dodging scams and prying out facts about their used cars. If this does result in a purchase of a cheap manual, by today’s standards that would be between $1500-$2500 (thank you covid). A car in that price range will be in its late teens to early twenties, now you need to get this pre-madonna registered and inspected, which with the amount you paid will require some work, the inspection part of that equation. Repairs can run between $50-$500 easy, registration will also be another $300, and an inspection (safety & emissions) will be another $40. All the while you are going through all this you are dreaming of your sweet bug-eyed WRX, or 8th gen EVO. Ahh finally registration of your beater is complete and you can get to driving it, and learning to clutch and row like a pro.
Fast forward a few weeks and you are a confident driver, able to handle rush hour on the FDR and rev-matching, you can make out other sticks on the road, you know you’re ready to go check out your dream car, and it hasn’t even been a month. But what to do with your training wheels? If you want to recoup some of that money you spent to curb your learning curve then you need to brave the word of selling a car. If you thought buying a car was a tedious process, boy are your in for a surprise. Here come the low ballers, tire kickers, and scammer (again), and hoping you get a decent amount for the car, selling a car can be a hand full in itself.
Instead of taking the long route take a lesson or two, spend a fraction of the above-mentioned cost, and know enough to get your dream car and get right on loving it. A lesson will teach what are the right and wrong ways to operate a manual, and will tell you a fact and secrets that Youtube never will. It will save you the headache and heartache of having to deal with car sellers and/or buyers. Our advice, don’t get a trainer car but instead use one or ours, and while you are using her get top-of-the-line instruction on how to drive stick like a New Yorker.