My recommendation, rally car.
I can't think of a better daily than something that's not only practical but meant for driving through hell and back without breaking.
Unfortunately in the U.S. you don't exactly have access to some of the best rally cars, otherwise I'd recommend any of the Lancer Evolutions from 1 to 6, those were all homologation models. My buddy has an Evo 5 putting down around 350 awhp and it's frighteningly quick and just never breaks. Outside of that, I'd say shoot for an Imprezza, I can personally vouch that those things can take a beating, be crashed multiple times, spun, jumped and just driven stupid in general and never give up. Another buddy of mine had an STI Spec C and he crashed it at the track maybe 4 times, jumped it off the track once, used it to destroy cones at highway speeds and just generally beat the hell out of it and it never stopped.
Those are expensive though, moving down to the cheaper and light weight side of fun rally cars, shoot for something hatchback, 2 door and light weight. See if you can find a 1982 2-door Nissan March (Micra) from Canada and import it (you may have to wait until 2012 for it to turn 25). Those cars weigh something like 700 kg, are carb'd (which means you can swap on bike carbs with little effort) and with the right persuasion can be a blast to drive. I currently own the ultimate k10 March, the Super Turbo, as a daily driver and I can vouch for it being hilarious amounts of reliable fun. Hmm, I guess this would be easier to just make a list, haha.
Any Lancer Evolution (Unforunately blows your 2 to 3 grand limit out of the water)
Any Imprezza WRX (See above)
Mitsubishi Galant VR4 (cutting it tight for 3 grand)
Mazda 323 GTX (although closest you can get in the states is the AWD Protoge from the early 90's.. also have no idea how much these run)
K10 March (should definitely be doable for less than 3 grand)
Toyota Starlet (any model really, although no clue if they were ever sold in the states)
Celica GT4 (any of them, though they might blast your 3000 limit out of the water as well)
Breaking away from the rally car idea, there's lots of fantastic cars out there for peanuts. I would strongly recommend an Infiniti M30. It's a nice sedan and, unfortunately, auto only. The engine however, is a VG30 so a 5 speed swap is pretty brainless. I bought one for 600 bones and swapped a 5 speed into it for less than 200 bucks. Not only that, the whole underside of it is practically identical to an N/A Z31, so there's lots of options for suspension and fun bits. It has the potential to be a very nice, cheap, people hauler that can double as something quite fun.
Alright, I could go on all day talking about cars I'd love to buy for daily drivers, but I'll leave it at this for now, haha.
Hope some of these ideas help!
1967 LT23 Mitsubishi 360 // 1967 L10A Cosmo Sports // 1971 S30 Fairlady Z // 1973 PR95 Bellett 1800 GT // 1973 Honda Life // 1988 Z31 300 ZX SS // 1996 EK11 March 1.3 // 1997 AC15 Dream 50
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