so my girl has an RX-8 with all of the warranties up, so I am trying to convince her to sell it before the latest factory rebuild Renesis pops again. if I pick the right car, she's okay with me adding some cash (so that she can fix and help pay off her R230) and getting something we both can enjoy to replace it. unfortunately, she's has her demands which significantly reduces the pool from which to pick awesome cars

* Must be an automatic (sounds bad, but her not being able to drive a stick means that she will never drive my Carrera, so trade-offs)

* $3-8k price range (the higher it goes, the more I pay, which means the car has to be more awesome. thank you, RX-8 depreciation)

* Must be girl cute - no wagons :(

* Must be able to tolerate girl daily driving (why let the engine warm up? it drives just fine cold) :'(

* No Miatas, despite them being perfect for her.

So, what does that leave? So far, the top choices are:

oppo approved girl carsS

SN95 Mustang GT - plentiful, cute enough for her, back seats to make it practical. rear-wheel drive V8 with enough suspension and engine modifications available to keep me interested.

oppo approved girl carsS

Toyota SC300/SC400 - "Lexus" brand to sell her on with a fancy interior and all that jazz, rear-wheel drive V6/V8 for me. plus I have an irrational desire to own a 70s/80s rear-wheel drive Japanese car that I could at least partially fill with this.

oppo approved girl carsS

Honda RSX - same "luxury brand" appeal as the SC300/400 to appeal to her, and a slightly peculiar interest to have as a winter beater for me. but I see this as a long shot, as every RSX on craigslist that I have seen either has been riced out, has crazy high mileage, or exceeds the price range requirement.

oppo approved girl carsS

Porsche 944 - not my girl's first, second, third, fourth, etc. choice, but I love the body style and would incur the financial wrath of having to maintain one and the constant complaining of buying one despite it not being what she wants. unfortunately, the automatic 944s are as elusive as leprechauns as they tend to get horded by retired orthodontists that never drive them because they are too hard to get in and out of.

the cars I kind of want but would have a hard time justifying for cost of upkeep reasons as I would not be the primary driver:

oppo approved girl carsS

BMW E39 - I would be lying if I said I haven't considered dumping her and using the money saved to by a manual E39 M5, as that would be the perfect compliment to my Carrera, but that doesn't align with my long-term life goals currently. an M52/M54 powered one is in the price range, but I have concerns about the long-term reliability with me not being the primary driver.

oppo approved girl carsS

2G Eclipse Spyder Turbo - cute for her, convertible for her, front wheel drive for safety reasons in winter. and a turbocharged 4G63 for me! nearly perfect until she blows the motor driving the car mid-tune... :(

oppo approved girl carsS

BMW Z3 - for whatever reason (*cough* brand *cough*), she hates the Miata but loves the Z3. this should be the choice. the 1.9L four banger is bulletproof and the car is close enough to a Miata that I could still occasionally enjoy it. but for whatever reason, Z3s are crazy overpriced.

oppo approved girl carsS

WRX/Impreza RS - Would be perfect if not for the same overpriced nature as the Z3. however, unlike the Z3, this isn't a German sports car. it's a Japanese econobox that may or may not have a turbo strapped onto it. I live in Reno, and so all-wheel drive cars tend to commend a premium, and Subarus to an irrational level when 80% of the ads mention that the head gaskets have been replaced. while it is a very nice Japanese econobox, there is no way I would pay $8k for a 13 year old 200k mile WRX when I could buy an Audi A4 for nearly half of that and have enough money to replace the engine when it undoubtedly goes.

Other cars that failed the tests for some reason:

Any 1980s or earlier car - she refuses to drive a car older than her, despite G-bodies being f'n awesome

Boxster - she has an irrational hatred for Porsches due to my love of them, and views the Boxster as a guy car due to my previous ownership of one

MR2 Spyder- no automatic. close with the SMG option, but it's also the only SMG in the world without an ECU-controlled auto mode

Saabs/Volvos - "look funny"

Mini Cooper - long story irrational hatred

Honestly, I see her keeping the RX-8 until the motor blows again and she's stuck in the "it costs $4500 to fix my $5500 car!" dilemma. at which point I will say she was warned and buy a 1984 Celica GTS hatchback that she will refuse to drive. which, for me, wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. that said, any suggestions or opinions on the vehicles mentioned?