Anyway, $400 isn't a lot so a T3 or even a used XSi kit isn't a bad starter. Pretty much any Rebel is a great camera.
Read through the threads in here and you'll see similar threads to yours and the responses, as well as through the general photography conversation thread.
Plan on expanding your budget over time to acquire lenses.
I think with how often it gets asked, we need a sticky for shooting angel eyes. It's difficult if not usually impossible to properly expose angel eyes and the rest of the car in one shot. Too much difference in dynamic range.
The general suggestion is to take 2 shots on a tripod, one exposed for the car, and one for the lights, and then carefully merge them in Photoshop to get the properly exposed car with properly exposed angel eyes.
Oh, I do use my iPad for taking photos. Like, when I need to take a picture of a document and email it or something, it's really useful. I just don't confuse that with actual photography