2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 2dr Coupe (5.7L 8cyl 6M)
If you are looking for a perfomance car in the $35,000 range, this is your car. Seriously, go drive one before you buy something else. In my opinion, moving up in price from the Z06 only seems to buy exclusivity. Consumer Reports doesn't rate the reliability well, so I got mine at Carmaxx with an extended warranty until 2009. My mileage is nearing 26,000 and I haven't needed the warranty yet. A Z06 is only about 200lb heavier than a Porsche Boxter but has 140 more hp, is 250lb lighter than an M3 (but has 75 more hp) and 400lb lighter than a Viper, but just slightly less hp. Supercharger kits put the C5 hp at 550 for about $7,000. The C5 drivetrain is reportedly reliable to 700hp.
Average 22 mpg daily driving through town to/from work. Average 28mpg over 900 miles to/from Key West. Comfortable, even for extended periods. Acceleration, braking, handling, stares and comments from friends, neighbors, strangers. Exhaust note sounds evil. Knowing there are so few cars faster.
Larger trunk opening. Less intrusive active handling system. Center console lid hinge is very poorly designed. Some exterior trim pieces are not wearing well.