I got my first "real job" (besides pet-sitting for neighbors, etc.) when I was 14, so by the time I was 17 I had managed to save some money for a car.
In my senior year of high school, the opportunity came up to buy a car off of coworker, who was selling his 2001 PT Cruiser for $3000 (well below the KKB value in 2008). I had the money, so my first car purchase was without a loan, and I don't know if I could do it another way now! Meanwhile, my brother was offered the same car before me, but because it wasn't sexy enough for him, he preferred to buy a newer (still used) car with a loan... so as a teen I watched the comparison firsthand.
I can't say the PT Cruiser is exactly the best car out there, but it doesn't eat up too much gas, and the hatchback design allowed me to fill it with all my possessions to move across the country-- and it's still going strong three years since then! I used to live an anti-Mustachian rural life where getting anything done involved a "commute" of some kind. I recognized this and traded the long daily drives for one long commute across the country to a city-- a city with a higher minimum wage than I was making with a promotion at my job in nowhere. I'm not sure I could have managed the move (at least not so cheaply) if I hadn't had the foresight as a teenager to put by a little bit for this car.
When the PT kicks the bucket (going strong now at 128k miles), the only improvements I'm looking for are better fuel economy and better handling (is it just me or can Chryslers just not turn worth shit?). My love-affair with hatchbacks started early, and I learned fast the value of what saving can do for your financial freedom.