I'm with you on this. A oil-less compressor is generally more noisy - but less maintenance and not as finicky. No need to worry about how cold (within reason) it is outside and not to worry about leveling it. But most of the small jobsite compressors are more suitable for running nail guns rather than air hogs (high cfm users) line air sanders, scalers, pneumatic chisels and some impact wrenches and ratchets. BTW I have an old Emglo which has given spectacular service.
If the use is really going to morph into a compressor for a home automotive shop - then you might want to look at the CFM requirements of you prospective tools. You probably can still get away with a small compressor - using short bursts of tool use - with the compressor cycling on frequently - but down the road you may need to upgrade. Meanwhile you will have had the use of the smaller more portable and affordable machine.