10 Cars to Remind Mom of Life Before Kids

1974 FIAT 500

Mother’s Day is quickly approaching, and if you still haven’t gotten Mom that gift to show her you appreciate all those years she lost out to raising the fine individual you have become, you might want to look into some quick gift ideas. So head to the flower shop, pick up a nice heartfelt card from the convenience store down on the corner, or head over to a used-car lot and pick her up something nice. If you really wanted to show Mom how much you appreciated your childhood, maybe you should get her a car that takes her back to a time before she had kids. Get her something sporty, something fun, something that will remind her of her more carefree days.

All the vehicles below should allow your Mom to relive the fun days before she brought you into this world. Each one has been around for a while, and there’s a good chance your Mom had at least some experience with these in the past. But if you’re looking for something a little more contemporary, a little safer, and a little more technologically relevant, all these vehicles have 2015 versions we’re sure Mom would love, too. And before you hit a dealership this weekend, be sure to check our tips to get the best deal you can on your Mother’s Day gift.

2002 MINI Cooper

10. The 2002 MINI Cooper is a great way for newer Moms to get back in touch with their younger, wilder years. With an available 163-hp engine, the Cooper provides plenty of power to really have fun on the road, yet still offers plenty of practicality for those times you do, in fact, need to be responsible. With seating for 4, you’ll be able to squeeze your family into the car, but a small back seat means getting kids in will be a struggle. This can work both ways—on days you need to take your kids places, you can, but on days you’d rather be on your own, you’ll always have an excuse for someone else to drive them. Sure, that 163 hp doesn’t compare to the power available in the 2015 MINI Cooper, but the new version is large and comfortable and even offers a 4-door option. Who wants that in a MINI?

1971 FIAT 500

9. The 1971 FIAT 500 is the very definition of a fun, little car. This Italian icon embodies the European spirit with its tiny frame and peppy performance. The 500 disappeared for a few years, but was recently resurrected following the success of the MINI Cooper’s second life. Assuming your Mother’s the type to be into classic European compacts, the ’71 500 offers the quintessential experience. But, if you want her to drive a more modern city car, the new 500 models offer a safer, more convenient experience while keeping the headroom to a minimum. If you think your Mom’s looking for a little more power in her little compact, the 2015 FIAT 500 Abarth is good for 160 hp, which, though it might not seem like that much, goes a long way in that tiny car.

1984 Toyota MR2

8. Do you have a Mom who’s looking for a car with minimal space? Check out the 1984 Toyota MR2. Thanks to its midengine layout, the MR2 has a small trunk and even smaller frunk, making it the ideal car to ditch your daily life and get out on the open road all by yourself. It’s light and relatively quick and has awesome handling characteristics, meaning you’ll enjoy a “you” day with nothing but a smile from ear to ear as you rip through the twisties. The best part? Take off in the MR2 and no one will ask you to pick up the kids or groceries, as you won’t be able to fit them anywhere (don’t tell them you could probably fit about three sandwiches in the trunk). The drawback to the MR2 is the fact that it’s a little older and many haven’t been well-maintained, so you may need to look to the newer Toyota MR2 Spyder. That’s just fine, though—the MR2 Spyder is still a hoot to drive and has no trunk.

1979 Volkswagen Beetle

7. As a classic sporty alternative to the larger cars that defined the ’70s, the 1979 Volkswagen Beetle would be a fantastic throwback to the American-loved European compact. The ’79 was the swansong of the Beetle in the U.S. In fact, ’79 was the last year convertible Beetles were sold in the U.S., and sedans ceased production in ’77. So you can understand why the ’79 Beetle convertible would be considered such a classic. This is the last year you can find a classic Beetle, until you get to about ’98, when Volkswagen reintroduced the German classic to the American market. But if you’re going to get into the modern Beetles, you might as well check out the new 2015 Beetle. It still has the familiar shape from the ’60s and ’70s, but brings along cutting-edge modern tech with it. And you can find some pretty good deals on even some of the newest Beetles on the lot.

1966 Dodge Charger

6. The 1966 Dodge Charger is a car many of the Moms we know would love to drive. Sure, it’s got only 2 doors, and it will be hard to get kids in the backseat, but who cares? For Moms who grew up in the ’60s, many we talked to said they had awfully fond memories of riding around in their parents’ Chargers. How better to relive those childhood memories than for Mom to get a Charger herself? What makes the Charger so great is it’s a way for Moms to remember those days before kids, without leaving their own kids behind. It might be a little tougher getting them into the back seat of a ’66, but go down to your local Dodge dealer and pick up a 2015 Charger—you’ll be treated to an insanely fun-to-drive 4-door sedan with downright sexy retro looks.

1970 Datsun 240Z

5. Nissan introduced the 1970 Datsun 240Z to the American market as part of the first-generation Z GT sport coupe series. The 151-hp coupe was Nissan’s deliberate attempt to attract the American sports-car market, deviating from its traditional approach of developing more economical models. In a lot of ways, the Datsun 240Z was the first Japanese sports car to catch the eye of American enthusiasts. So, assuming your Mom is into Japanese roadsters, the ’71 240Z would be an impressive gift for her. But really, the car is awesome. If you’d rather go a little more modern, Nissan continued the 240Z’s feel with the Nissan 370Z. As far as sports cars go, the 370Z sells for relatively cheap but still packs a punch with its 332-hp V6. Zipping around in either the Datsun 240Z or Nissan 370Z would certainly take your Mother back to a younger time.

1987 Jeep Wrangler

4. If your Mom grew up loving the outdoors, you’ll want a 1987 Jeep Wrangler. Seriously, there’s no other choice—besides maybe a new Wrangler or 4Runner or Outback—but those are all nowhere near as exciting. Although the Wrangler was new to the Jeep lineup in 1987, it was actually the successor to the storied CJ (itself the successor to the famed Willys MB). This makes the Wrangler one of the most memorable and iconic cars of all time—a car almost everyone has (usually fond) childhood memories of, whether they be of riding around in a parent’s Jeep or just seeing them on the road and thinking, “Wow!” What better way to reconnect with your childhood while also getting yourself to the places you love than with a Wrangler? If you want to make that trip solo or with a special someone, the older Wrangler (or modern 2-door variant) is a great choice. Want to take the whole family along? You’ll probably need to step up to the 4-door Wrangler Unlimited (which went on sale in 2004).

1964 Ford Mustang

3. If your Mom’s the type of Mom that appreciates an American classic, there really is no other option than the 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang. If we’re being completely honest, any Mustang will probably make a great gift, but the first Mustang off the factory lines in a piece of history. This first-generation American icon was met with universal praise, and there’s no doubt that this pony car was a favorite back in the day (and today). We’re sure your Mom would love to turn this 271-hp classic into her Sunday driver. But if she’s looking for something to use every day, that might suggest you check out a newer Mustang. Even though Ford just celebrated the Mustang’s 50th anniversary, the car still maintains that traditional Mustang feel, and of course is capable of generating some insane power numbers. You have 50+ model years to choose from, and we’re sure Mom would appreciate any one of them.

1983 Volkswagen GTI

2. For Moms who grew up in the ’80s, there’s perhaps no car as iconic as the 1983 Volkswagen GTI. Based on Volkswagen’s popular Rabbit (or Golf, as the rest of the world knew it in 1983), VW took the small commuter car and turned it into a snarling, raging hot hatch with the GTI. Sure, many teenagers in the ’80s didn’t drive GTIs, but they did drive Rabbits, and what would be more exciting than driving a high-performance version of the car your teenage self drove? Moms who can find an old GTI in good shape will get treated to one of the most exciting cars Volkswagen ever made. Want one, but don’t want to give up the creature comforts of modern cars? Take a look at the 2015 GTI and see just how much the hot hatch has grown up in the last 32 years, even if you haven’t.

1989 Mazda MX-5 Miata

1. We can’t think of any car more suitable to inject the youth right back into someone than the 1989 Mazda MX-5 Miata. Built in the style of classic British roadsters, the ’89 Miata uses a 116-hp 1.6-liter inline 4-cylinder, enough to power this sporty roadster to some impressive performance. Although the Miata may be a little younger than your Mother, it will no doubt make her feel 20 again. To be honest, the Miata hasn’t changed much over the years. It remains a tiny, powerful, popular roadster that’s perfectly proficient at driving around the city, country, or the track. And to be perfectly frank, the Miata’s best feature may be its price tag. Even the newest models go for only $20,000 or so. And that’s a pretty good price for a roadster that can do solid work on a track. So for Mother’s Day go pick up a Miata and bring your Mom to the track.

What car would best remind your Mom of life before kids? If you’re a Mom, what would you choose?

-jharrington and zwaller

Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Shopping for a Mother’s Day gift this weekend?
Bring along CarGurus’ mobile app to help check prices, find good deals, and research cars on your smartphone.

Used MINI Cooper
Used FIAT 500
Used Toyota MR2
Used Volkswagen Beetle
Used Dodge Charger
Used Datsun 240Z
Used Jeep Wrangler
Used Ford Mustang
Used Volkswagen GTI
Used Mazda MX-5 Miata

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