Well, starting from a low level is always hard, especially when we´re talking automotive design.
I love Maya, Modo and Max, because they fit my workflow. Maya is a killer for animation, but expect a steep learning curve
Alias rocks for perfect surfaces, but for experimental modeling and freeform design, I´d never use Alias
I would suggest that you take a look at Keyshot´s animation module, or Bunkspeeds Move instead. Very simple, but with good results.
Am I tempted to do an MA at UID. Well I´m sure it would be a great experiance and that I would learn A LOT. But I´ve been to school enough and an MA-degree doesn´t neccessary give me more jobs..... Most of the people I respect and admire are self taught, and so am I to a large extent. All my image-making skills are a result of many hours by the computer. UID taught me a little Rhino, but nothing else (within this field).