I drove a Mini Cooper S (R53). It was BRILLIANT!!!!

I loved driving that car so much, but looking for one, I found out that they have soooo many issues and a huge cost to own. I also have been looking for Miatas, but I can't really find a good one in my budget and I'd really like to get an NB. I'd like something reasonably reliable, not hugely expensive to own and I would really love a manual too. My budget is $5000 for a practical car or $3000 for an impractical one. HELP ME. I live in LA, CA so that craigslist is there. I am starting to give up, so please help me come up with some new ideas. Also, any ideas about a Focus SVT?