As far back as I can remember, my parents made it clear that they would not be buying me or any of my siblings a car when we got our licenses. If any of us wanted a car, we'd have to buy it ourselves.
In December of my senior year, the inconvenience of me not having a car (and having early morning seminary, school, daily play practice, and a part-time job) changed their minds. They bought me a car. It was a 10 year old car and it. . . .was not a great car. In a year, they probably put more money into it than they paid for it in the first place. (Needless to say, I loved this little car with all the ferocity a seventeen year old can muster).
Eventually, about a year after I went away to college and the car became Merrick's main transportation, they replaced it with a much nicer, new little red Hyundai and that car eventually went to my youngest sister who still drives it.
When I was driving my parents' cars, they paid for the gas and I paid a small portion of my insurance. When they bought me my own car, I was now solely responsible for the gas and paid a slightly larger portion of my insurance.
Although I could have afforded a car, I never ever ever considered buying one because doing so would have cost the vast majority of my savings and I was unwilling to do that. Better to drive the minivan.
Bart's parents also said they wouldn't buy their children cars. To the best of my knowledge, all but one of their children purchased their own cars while in high school (there is one amusing picture I've seen of four of the children lined up beside their four cars along the sidewalk in front of their home). Bart said he wasn't, for a moment, willing to not have his own car. He saw it as a complete necessity.
Of course, buying a car, insuring it (as a teenage boy), and paying for gas meant that practically every dime Bart made went directly to the car. He worked three jobs his freshman year in college. He paid a high price to have his own car, including having no savings.
Because this is an issue that was such a big deal to both of us in high school, we have talked at length about what we plan to do as far as cars go for our children (seeing as our daughter just turned sixteen weeks old on Friday, I think we have some time).
Our plan (which we reserve the right to alter) is to buy a car that our children can drive when they turn sixteen. It won't be a particularly nice car, but it'll be reliable and nice enough that we don't spend a fortune on upkeep. They'll pay for gas and part of their insurance. And when they go off to college, the car will stay with us and become the primary possession of the next child. They'll have some of the financial responsibility for a car, but not such a huge burden that it prevents them accumulating any savings or forcing them to work an enormous amount to shoulder the burden.
What about you? How did your parents handle a car? What do you plan to do with your children?