There's nothing like the memories you can create with your first car. The ultimate enabler, the freedom you have is only limited by your imagination and amount of gas money. Not every parent can sleep peacefully knowing their kid may be careening down an empty road at night but others prefer that thought to subjecting them to the waking nightmare that is commuting in the Philippines. What to give your raging teenager is often split into two schools of thought though: old and busted or new hotness?
There's always the “free” pre-existing family car, but not all of us have a spare lying around for them to get their filthy hands on so it's off to buy and sell groups! There are also a unique set of lessons to be learned by going high or low with the amount you spend on a kid's first ride—moms and dads out there, where do you think they should start?
The price range that gets you cars kindly described as “needs work” or honestly as “a piece of shit.” It is guaranteed to build character and resilience because it will lose aircon, get a flat, be unable to open (or close!) a window and other fun stuff that happens when you drive a heap on wheels that cost around fifty grand. Another positive is that your teen will “start from the bottom” and not develop a driver's ego because he or she will be in something borderline embarrassing to look at. It's also cheap to fix whenever they wreck something too.
This is the price range where you end up with a car that may be valuable enough to actually care for. For a kid who is into cars, you can find a good project for them like a classic Corolla or Civic—two cars that you can readily stick an oversized muffler and some sick mags on and generally make presentable with some elbow grease and inspiration. Since it isn't a total beater, you can reasonably expect this to last your child until they start work and even beyond. So is it the best value proposition then?
Step up to around three stacks and you can start thinking about a mid-2000's depreciation special. It'll be reasonably modern, common, and just beginning to show the niggly little problems of age, meaning the maintenance costs (that you, as a parent, will obviously shoulder) shouldn't be too bad just yet. If you want them to have a relatively hassle-free life, this is where you land. It's also a not trivial amount to put out, so they better damn appreciate and take care of it.
Let's jump ahead a bit to new (small) car territory. You have a whole world of used options at this price point, but it's also when you can consider buying a brand new vehicle outright. The biggest pitfall may be that gifting them a new whip will lead to them missing the crucial experience of “working hard to earn something nice.” Older people will spit and claim that in their day, they had to make do with a piece of shit (see #1)! Peers will inevitably think of them as spoiled brats. They will be safe and sound car-wise though, and free from hassle outside their own teenage stupidity. But you could've totally just bought a new car for yourself instead too, you know?