When I wrecked my Outback, I didn’t have rental car coverage, which left me car-less (btw, it costs $9/car for 6 months, makes sense for a bad driver like me!). It took the insurance company nearly a MONTH to cut me a check to purchase a replacement. Since I don’t carry a loan on my car, and I didn’t intend to finance anything, that check was a necessity in terms of replacing my old car. I ended up being lucky enough to borrow my mom’s car. She lives about 1.5 hours away and is out of the country til early December, so I was able to take my time to find the “right” car, without a a deadline looming over my head. I was really WANTING to get a BMW 5 series or another A4 wagon, but Craig made it clear that if I buy a high-maintenance car, that I will be the one working on it in the driveway in the rain. So I revised my plan and figured something cheap, reliable, and Japanese. Working within the wagon/hatch requirement, I eventually whittled down the options to a Mazda Protege5, which one of my friends has, and loves. But it turns out there are a lot of really destroyed ones on the market, and the ones that aren’t, are very overpriced. We test drove one that looked promising online, but it had been in a pretty big accident, and had all sorts of suspension problems. And another one that was pretty much perfect, but the dealer was asking a full $3k above blue book value for it. Then when we were trying to come to a deal, spent a great deal of time jerking us around and lying to us (which of course is somewhat expected at a dealer, but obnoxious nonetheless), and wasted a bunch our time trying to convince me that they would totally get someone to pay that $3k above book value. Obnoxious. The next day, I found one from a private seller with only 71k miles (it’s a 2003) in near perfect shape. It has an exhaust heat shield that’s loose, but otherwise is perfect. We came to a deal with that guy (a little more than the dealer, but the car was nicer and he wasn’t a total douche). So we bought it. I got it last night, and it’s a great little car. I am enjoying driving it. All I have is a terrible photo that I took last night in the rain without a tripod, but c’est la vie.