Yesterday was a bitter day, hoping the next chapter can make it sweet. Yes, it is I – The Poster Formerly Known as e30s2k. Now with neither, I have officially sold my E30. This picture was taken right before the new owner drove off in it (realized I didn’t have a single photo of myself with the car) -

The car went to a wonderful new owner – a young lady who used to own a Z car, does her own wrenching, and helps out with a friend’s Lemons team. On top of that the car is going back home to California. In fact it will have a daily commute up and down the coastal twisties of Highway 1, pretty much car heaven if you ask me.

But where does that leave me? Confused and with a hole in my heart. The entire reason I sold the car was because I drove it far too infrequently, especially having a newborn at home. My wife is being amazingly supportive – even though I’d be OK just not replacing it anytime soon she’s encouraging me to just spend the money (and maybe a bit on top) on a newer, safer fun car I would actually use.

This is where you come in, Oppo. I’m no Doug De Muro…I won’t be buying any Ford GTs, but help me find something within my budget of $10K or less.

Requirements:

- $10k or less (hopefully less)

- Would prefer a sedan/hatch/wagon with rear doors but would settle for a coupe if rear seat access isn’t too bad. No 2 seaters.

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- Safe commuter car – driver and passenger airbags, traction control, etc. Rear airbags a plus if possible

- Manuals only

- Would prefer RWD but would settle for a full-time/rear-biased AWD platform

- Reasonable mileage and reliability. Must be relatively easy and cheap to maintain.

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- Gas mileage not a huge concern, but at least 20-25mpg highway would be nice

Mostly I’ve been trending towards what I already am somewhat familiar with:

- E46 330i, preferably ZHP

- 06+ Subaru WRX (partial to the “hawkeyes”, preferably wagon, but hard to find especially unabused) or Forester XTs (hard to find, especially with a manual)

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- I’ve also seen a few early E91 wagons within my price range that I’ve always lusted after, but harder (and more expensive) to find with a stick.

I feel like I’m being drawn to Subarus and BMWs because those are the brands I know and have been around for the last few years. I thought of Infiniti G35s but friends who have had them had maintenance issues…not sure if that’s true across the board. I’d consider a FWD car like an Acura TSX, but I feel like I’d be trading in a little bit of fun for more reliability – not sure if I might get bored too easily with that.

Completely out of left field I’ve also been obsessed with GX 470s – and older ones can be had within my price range. But it will mainly get used as a commuter, so between the gas mileage, size, automatic, and simply not using it as intended for the most part, I don’t think it’s the right choice for me. I have dreams of getting outdoors and overlanding, but in reality with a 3 month old baby at home much of that isn’t happening any time soon.

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Other suggestions you fine folks would recommend me looking in to?