In terms of speed, and I mean quick manuals, what company, and model, do you prefer? I ask because I am big on speed, and I know a few quick cars. Like the 1993 Mustang 5.0 v8 is good. What other cars are fast, but I could find on craigslist for a nice price. Budget: 4000 and under. What cars are also very easy to alter the engine with? I know civics are pretty good to mod.
I prefer a car that meets the conditions in which I drive. It sounds simple I know but thing about it. If you live in a big city and hardly ever drive on the open road, why get a car that goes 200mph? It is more fun (and practical) to get a car with great suspension that can go around corners without slowing down. Like the Mini.
If you have a commute of some distances you want something with a few creature comforts so you can enjoy them while stuck in traffic. An older Mercedes coupe or BMW.
If you live in the outskirts and make long distance trips to the beach or to go skiing pick up your Mustang, or older Camaro or Firebird.
These days, $4k will get you lots of car so make sure the mechanics are sound and that it can do what you want. It would be a shame to get your dream car only to find out you need $2K worth of suspension and tires.