Throw the idea of getting any type of luxury brand right out the window. You will be paying for that name and you can't afford that. Avoid anything "special" as well. 240sx, Si, SRT, ect. The all command a premium for the image.
You think have $4,500. NO! You now have $3000 for the car, $200 for tools and $1300 in a savings account to fix what ever breaks. Also learning to work on cars is a skill that will save you crap loads of cash your entire life. (because of my skill I was able to buy an $1100 minivan for my work as a courier and drive it over 50k miles putting less then $500 into it.)
Find a car with some sort of community behind it. The reason for this is because any problem you have someone on there will know exactly how to fix it. I would personally recommend the Neon community because it is where I learned 90% of my automotive knowledge that allowed my Neon to easily pass inspection at 230k miles.
Drive anything and everything in your price range. In the used car market all cars become more or less equal. Be patient and do you research on what you find.
Oh and get a AAA subscription. An old car will break down and knowing the tow is paid for is a huge relief.
2011 Smokin Buck Ferton 155
2013 Flow NX2-SE
2013 Flow Hylite boa
Burton Stagger pants/jacket
Last edited by john doe; 10-04-2012 at 08:42 AM.