List can go on.
Side note: Just picked up an E36 328i myself and boy did I forget what having torque feels like after putting around in my Cooper S for a few years.
Challenger has fake hood vents. Immediately disqualified.
Buying any used tuner car (S2K, MR2, etc) that hasn't been modded is like finding a needle in a haystack. Also, I want something turn key, not a project. Most older vehicles start turning into projects pretty quickly. While all of those cars are great vehicles, finding one in the conditions I would require to not be paranoid and have buyer's remorse the first time something went wrong is going to take a long time. But I do have a while, so I'll keep my eyes open.
I do like the looks of the new Miata, but it seems a little bit too small for me. Maybe I'll have to go test drive one.
I understand the enthusiasm of getting a good career job after you finish school, i was there a few years ago.
My advice is to buy a used car. Let someone else take the initial depreciation, buy something that's 2-5? years old? You'll get a nice clean car, still reliable, and less depreciation.
IF ur stuck on the new car thing, you seem biased towards the new Mustang, i would strongly recommend to wait until they release the new Camaro, it would be a shame to buy a mustang then realize you would have picked the Camaro had you only waited 2 months.
See, if I buy a used car cheaper, the amateur mechanic in me is going to want to throw parts at it, because more than likely the warranty will up or almost up by then. And with the way my bike was modified when I got it, I don't trust the redneck ingenuity that people tend to throw at their vehicles in this region. I'm not dead set on a new car, I just don't trust people to maintain their vehicles to the standard I would.
Also, I get your point, but I don't like the new Camaros.
I'll sell you my grand prix for 38k.... that's under your budget!!!
Is it at least the GTP model? If it is, I'll take it. I have this image in my head of me rolling real slow across campus, windows down, shades on, speakers maxed out (and obviously blown because GM), pointing and nodding at every female who even remotely glances at my swagmobile. And at every stop sign, I ghost ride the whip, while I do the Lebron powder thing, except with business cards that have nothing on them, aside from one word. "Swag".