I do watch a lot of automotive YT content, and over the past 10 years since Motor Trend stuff, I've tended to lean to what Jason Cammisa has to say about cars. It isn't just because he has a rolodex of comparisons between thousands of cars, but also, the cars he keeps and why he keeps them. I'd like to think my hypothetical dream garage would be something like that, and his isn't really pricey per vehicle.I think we're on the same page.
The Hagerty videos weren't the thing that convinced me to buy this car, but they certainly influenced the decision. The "Goldilocks" description of the BRZ was perfect for me. Perfectly in the middle of the "fun<------> practicality" spectrum between the Miata and the GTI.
As for those 1-series BMWs you mentioned... Back when I had my E46, I test-drove a 135i while I had the car at the dealership for service. That little car was a blast. I would've considered it if (1) it still existed, and (2) I wasn't painfully aware of how much "fun" it is to maintain a high-mileage BMW.
Also, I definitely understand the BMW maintenance. I was absolutely on top of service/recalls for an '07 328i and it still blew up on the side of the freeway after doing automotive inspections near the border of Mexico. It was roughly 96*, slightly cool wind, humid, but it had direct sunlight on it. A 20 minute freeway drive later over some particular section of the I-5 going northbound and it started to smoke out of the engine bay and into the cabin.
Even the police officer wasn't surprised. He said a Mercedes had the same thing happen over the same section of freeway.
Needless to say, I'm more confident on modern BMWs being more reliable, but it's still the BRZ/GR86 in regards to practicality, the lowest weight of the cars I considered, and fun factor. It's the closest compromise to an Mr2 Spyder and IS300 (never owned but driven plenty) that I've ever had, and the Mr2 Spyder for me, is the car that got away.