Purchaced a 1997 Stratus ES, 2.0, 5 speed manual off ebay for $700. Supposedly needed a fuel pump at 160k. Car had been previously well cared for and was in excellent condition. Had it shipped from Toledo, Oh to Arkansas. When it arrived, the engine was locked up due to someone pouring 2 gallons of water in the gas tank. Long story short, broke the engine free without taking it apart, replaced fuel pump, due to the water, and have put another 40k+ trouble free miles on it. I use it for my beater car, haul engines and parts, and drive long distances back and forth to work weekly. It can sit for months, fire right up, and drive 3-8 hours. Gets 34mpg or better, rides and drives great!
I bought this car new in 1996, all I have done to it was change the oil, replace tires as needed and put gas in it, during the last few months I had the brakes done, and had the timing belt replaced, and the oil pressure sending unit started leaking oil, all after 130,000 miles, it gets awesome gas mileage, 35 mpg in town and 40 mpg on the highway. The car it handles like it is on rails, alot of fun to drive.
Just had to retire the car today, cracked the transmission case on a pot hole, repair more than the car is worth. It will be missed, it was a very comfortable car that handled well and gave me 24mpg city and just under 32mpg at 70 on highway. Rode like a much bigger car and handled quite well. Had just under 180k on it but didn't drive like it. Good in snow. Had to buy a car today, if not would have looked for another one, maybe a few years newer.
Bought mine used for $2,000 with 60,000 miles on the motor, 110,000 on the transmission, passed emmissions. Spent less than $1,000 for new tires, brakes, and shocks. Serviced the transmission at 115,000 for less than $150 for new fluid and filter. Starter went out a year later, less than $300 to replace. Overall I've spent less than $3,500 for the car and all repairs.