Before I owned this car, a manual transmission 4 door wagon, I owned the same thing, except for in an automatic form. My opinion, the manual is the better of the both. Even my wife loves driving it, which is odd, because she'd always prefer automatics. It can get a little dicey in the winter, especially where I used to live in B.C., but it's the funnest car I've ever driven. I could have a little more leg room, but I'm only 5 foot 8, so it doesn't matter. My Escort is the plainest Escort you could ever get, but for some weird reason, it has power mirrors. The seats are manual, the locks and the windows. But that's what I love about this car.
Bought it with 58K. Had no problems but struts, brakes and the rear springs. Nothing major. I was only 20 and owned a wagon. My friends thought I was smokin' funny stuff, but hey, it was like driving a truck that got 34 miles to the gallon and never broke down. Not bad if you ask me.
I used this car to haul 8ft lumber in sdie with hatch close. Also. I installed a hitch to haul small trailers with home improvement items. The car was abused, I guess, but kept going strong. I replaced the exhaust and struts twice, and clutch once but little else. To keep the AC from running constantly, I tinted the 7 windows. Big winter boots tended to rub the brake pedal when using the gas pedal. A small seat cushion helped smooth out the rough Michigan highway roads and is required for long trips. The car was worth every penny I spent on it. Great gas mileage.
Most reliable car I ever owned! Routine maintenance only. Body/paint integrity remains excellent. Original exhaust and clutch at 148K miles. Would have bought another one but they stopped making the wagon!! Can't afford insurance on two cars so I'm trying to sell it to a good home!