Originally Posted by SGladwell
Performance wise, sure. But is the Atom street legal on US roads?
Yes, and you can buy it from these guys:http://www.arielatom.com/
And drive it all the way home, like this guy did:http://www.atomacrossamerica.org/
For my money, it would be the 1st gen Mazda Miata (if you fit) or a bone-stock BMW E30 M3 if you do most of your own service, and you can get over the fact that it's not a traditional sports car. Both are cheap, easily maintained, and liveable daily drivers.
Spend the rest of the money on driving schools to learn how to drive the car properly, and see some of what it's capable of.
BTW, I fit fine in an Elise, but not a Miata.