Your Gig: First decent job out of college
Your Budget: $21K
Your Rig: Mini Cooper convertible
What better way to savor the flavor of being on your own - saddled with nothing more than student loans - than by darting through traffic at top speed in an Austin Powers Special Mini Cooper ragtop? It's affordable fun that fits almost anywhere - the ideal close-in city car. An interesting feature is the dual-mode power soft-top that can be retracted all the way, or left in "open sunroof" mode if you don't want to muss your 'do.
Your Budget: $28K
Your Rig: PT Cruiser convertible or turbo GT
With lots of interior room, a high roofline, and wide-opening rear door, the PT Cruiser is the ideal retro-runabout. For 2005, Chrysler has added a high-performance turbo option, as well as a two-door roadster model with a power-actuated soft-top. In fact, the ragtop version is one of the very few four-seater convertibles out there that can actually carry four people comfortably. At $20K to start, the PT convertible is among the least expensive convertibles available.
Your Budget: $30K
Your Rig: Toyota Tacoma X-Runner
The 2005 Tacoma X-Runner is the only high-performance sport truck to offer a six-speed manual transmission, supercharged engine, and extended cab all in the same truck. This muscled-up version of Toyota's mid-size pickup has 4.5 inches more shoulder and hip room as compared to the '04 Tacoma. Standard equipment on this banzai bruiser includes hulking fender flares to accommodate NASCAR-size wheels and high-performance tires. The six-speed manual gearbox connects you to a 240-horsepower V6 that can be boosted to 300-plus horsepower if you choose the optional Toyota Racing Development (TRD) supercharger. Toyota claims the X-Runner will outhandle a Nissan 350Z in an autocross - and in supercharged form, can hit 60 mph in just over 6 seconds.