I recently drove a manual for the first time, and was like “yeah, I could get down with this.” Right now I mostly drive an E34 535i, it gets shit gas mileage, I’ve got lots of work to do on it, and I think I’ve just been wanting something different lately. I don’t think I’d get rid of the 535i though, it drives well, and I think I’d need to do a lot of low cost work(rehab the interior and exterior) to get some money for it. If I had a second car, then I’d have something to drive when the 535 is laid up, and I could get a manual and start learning that.
Some contenders based on my small budget:
Acura Integra - there is one listed locally that has a long scratch that’s been poorly fixed but is otherwise pretty untouched, 1998, only 115k miles. Most expensive on my list.(looks pretty much like the above)
Contour SVT - Looks to be in unusually good shape. Also 115k miles, either a 97 or 98. Looks less cool than the Integra but a bit faster. $1000 or so cheaper than the Integra.
Sentra SE-R (maybe spec v) - nothing really nearby me but they appear pretty common within 100 miles, 2000-2004 models ranging from cheaper than the SVT to not much more.
I could also keep saving my pennies for something better like a Cooper S. Each car has their respective merits, the Integra is the slowest but potentially best handling and Contour SVT is more practical and straightline speed; and each would be a pretty easy resale as they each have their own, very different, followings. The SE-R would probably just be less maintenance as I could get something newer somewhere in between in terms of speed and size; not sure about handling.