Here are my concerns with each: Volvo 850/V70 - Could be a potential money pit. I'm not familar with these cars in terms of repairs, though they seem simple enough. The one I'm looking at is mechanically sound
here's the list of mechanical work recently done: headgasket, decked and cleaned head, timing belt, tensioners, rollers, water pump, radiator, alternator, full PCV kit, Bosch wires, OEM cap/rotor, new plugs. From Missouri. V70 tail lights, HIDs, Cross drilled and slotted rotors with new pads all around. 125k miles
Being fixed up right now by a known person in the Volvo community and for sale at the top of my price range ($3500). Paint is oxidizing (single stage) and would require a significant amount of buffing by a real pro to return. The bumper is also a bit banged up, but this is common for the 850R. The fact that it's not BROKEN is more amazing.
Nissan Maxima - NOT A WAGON... I really would like a wagon. VQ35DE motor can consume oil, VQ30DEK Gen5s seem to be plagued with sensor issues, Gen4s seem stout.
Here's one I'm looking at:
2002 Maxima SE 6speed
180k miles. Interior looks pretty thrashed:
Shifter bezel is... not attached.
steering wheel looks pretty worn
Rear seats look pretty stained or dirty.
Not interested in an automatic
Honda Accord - I really want a wagon. I do NOT want an automatic and will not buy one with an automatic. That makes it difficult to find. Another issue is rust. We all know Hondas of this vintage rust BAD on the rear fenders. I won't touch a rusty car making this even MORE difficult to find one. What sucks is I had found one and the bastard never got back to me with his number and eventually sold it after dropping the price from $3000 to $1900 and the thing was ****ing immaculate.
Subaru Legacy - Hits nearly all the right boxes except one: reliability. Most Legacys I'm looking at are of the 'leaky headgasket' generation (EJ25D and EJ251). Also, most of them of the older generation are beat to ****.
Any other suggestions?
the 855R seems like it might be the best choice for me despite being expensive.