3 that come to mind are the 35mm 1.4 and the 85mm 1.4 and the 28mm f2.0. Even though they're 15-20 years old their value seems to hold up on e-Bay. That says a lot about their performance.
Noooo! The 35 1.4 and 84 1.4 definately yes, but the 28 2.0 was always noted for its sharpness, but its bokkeh let it down. The 35 2.0, which I own, is supposedly better in the bokkeh stakes, but still not up to the 1.4. A lot cheaper though
I have been hoping that someone would suggest which lenses they have used from Minolta that offer this quality described so well in the article "lush colour, smoother-than-smooth bokeh and an appealing rendition that eschews the dramatically contrasty nature of Canon and Nikon lenses in favour of a Leica-flavoured, high-res presentation that gently rolls off the tonal extremes for open shadows and well-tamed highlights."
Right, this is tricky because I don't know your budget. However you did say that the new, top end stuff was out of your league, so I'm going to start from the bottom. You're also after wide-moderate telephoto.
Incidently, all the info I'm going on is taken from here:
It lists just about every lens ever made for Minolta (400odd at last count...) and is home to some very knowledgable forum members.
17-35 f3.5 G - This is the top-dog for wide zooms for Minolta, at least until the expected CZ releases this summer. The most expensive lens I'm suggesting, but probably worth it. Pay £500/600 for it.
24-50 f4 - Very cheap, one of the original series of AF lenses from the 80s. Should provide you with 'that' look - designed for full-frame so no worries about sharpness. Pay under £100.
70-200 f4 - Plentiful and affordable, excellent image quality and beautiful bokkeh. Watch for CAs and AF speed. Build quality is fine. £80odd.
If you've got more to spend or want some more reccomendations then shout, but you've not really given me much to work with yet. I'm a big fan of Minolta's primes - in fact Sony gives autofocus stabilsed f1.4 lenses; that's why I chose them. You can also get stabilised manual focus f1.2s if that's your thing - it certainly is mine. So just to throw out a list of primes I'd reccomend on a fair budget:
35 1.4 original
85 1.4 original
100 2.8 original
Hope that helped