I had a beater Saturn Wagon (1999) which was stick... and you know, I loved it. It was 2 grand, and got me through three years of university - back and forth 50 miles each way almost every day.
However, it blew a cylinder.
I immediately wanted a Subaru, just due to everything I've heard from other owners...
so I looked a little and found 3:
1 - a 99 forester 120k miles, for 3600 from a dealer. As I was looking at it, I called someone to ask what I should look for, etc... he told me the place I went was a little shady and that I should get it checked out by a guy down the road he trusted. I took it for a test drive, and since the dealer put no parameters on how long or how far I could take it, I clandestinly took it to the mechanic.
The car was completely rotted out underneath, bad news, old inspection.
Dodged a bullet. Went back and told he dealer it wouldn't pass inspection, maybe if he wanted to sell it for a grand?
Needless to say I was on my way to the next one.
2 - a 2000 Subaru Impreza Wagon - 128k miles. The owner was a mechanic, and did a ton of work to a lot of stuff underneath the car (brake lines, exhaust, etc...) and put coating underneath the car. My friend said this one wasn't too bad, but it has a few rust spots and the shifter (automatic) was tough to move on it. It rode fine. They wanted 3300 dollars, I was able to get them down to 2500, since there was a check engine light on, and it would need all new tires. Inspection till july '14 - according to the mechanic I asked help from, those tires could NOT have passed inspection and he thinks the mechanic just stuck a sticker on it to sell the car.
I drove around a bit more and a friend facebook messaged me with a craiglist ad of a local guy selling a car.
3 - this was a 2000 Subaru Legacy Wagon - private seller. Went down there, and the car looked pretty good - rode well, but there was a shakiness - a bent rim, he said he hit a massive pothole with it. It needed tires. It had one rust spot, with a hole through it. The timing belt had not been done yet, and it had 140k. So that would need to be done.
He let me take it to the mechanic, and the mechanic mirrored my sentiments - rust hole would need to be fixed before inspection is up (august 14), needed timing belt/water pump, tires, rim, swaybar links... would be about 1k of work. However, the body underneath was sound and the car was in great shape, other than that.
The owner wanted 2500, I got him down to 1700. I went for this one. It seemed to be the most honest one, and the cheapest (almost even after considering the money I would put into some essential fixed). He was the original owner, and had receipts since the thing was new. Maintained quite well (weird that he didn't get the timing belt done after 100k, I hear this is essential).
My budget was low, so this seemed the best choice.
Anyway, I just got all that stuff done (with the execption of the rust, waiting till next month).
and here i am!