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You certainly have inspired us. A full 5 months since your first post and I for one still feel the need to post a reply. You have a tough and important decision to make and I hope you haven?t made it already. A car is an expression of the driver within' and you will never get a chance to go back and buy that first car again. So ask yourself; what kind of man will be sitting behind the wheel? Are you a man who goes with the pack - meekly into this good night, or do you take the road less traveled. Now that I have butchered the English language beyond recognition I will get to the point.
Careening down the highway in a Honda or an Escort is no way to go through life. Now, you said your budget was $5k but you seem to be looking at cars that are far cheaper. If you are really tight on money go with the Scriocco or an Impulse. Seminole is right - those cars flew, and the Scriocco?s praises have already been sung above. However, if you have time and the inclination to save just a few dollars more I will end your dilemma right here.
WHAT YOU ARE SEARCHING FOR MY FRIEND IS AN - ORIGINAL AUDI QUATTRO COUPE. This car ROCKED the rally world and is still one hell of a choice. They may be old but the 5 cylinder engine is usually good for at least 500,000 miles! No kidding, they are bullet proof. I have a friend who has put over 300K on three of these engines. (Look at http://sturtevant.com/reed/quattro.htm for a nice example.) Finding one will not be easy and the premium ones go for premium price. The extra expense and legwork are well worth it, the web is full of sites still amazed at this car?s performance. I'm still kicking myself for not picking one up for 6000$ 5 years ago, so with the right commitment owning one in your position is do-able.
Sean, there are 14 posts above mine of men just like you, although a few years older. Read the posts again, only this time read between the lines. Do you see any thing in common with us all? Some of us made the right decision buying our first real car and some didn?t. But what we all have in common is our envy of you. Make us proud!