totaly get the traxxas 1/10 rustler xl5. take it from someone who had that car as their first ever rc car. I absolutely loved it. super duper durable, pretty fast, waterproof so he doesn't need to be uptight about avoiding water. If he does break a part, replacements are very inexpensive and same goes for upgrades when that time comes. It wont break the bank, it is under 200 dollars. here is a link.
i know that is says 224 dollars but they always mark it above what it really costs. if you have a local hobby shop (lhs)near your house, they should have the rustler xl5 in stock and cheaper than on the traxxas website. if you have a HobbyTown USA as your lhs, they should have it for about 150-160 dollars. hope I influenced your decision on what to get!