circa 2004...The closest Subaru dealership doubled as a Mazda dealership. My next door neighbor's friend was a salesman (about the same age as me) and I was in the market for a car. I would see and hear his WRX wagon whenever he stopped by my neighbor's house. I had liked Subarus but was more into 4x4 trucks at the time. I was really trying to obtain a Mazda 6 with a big motor (3.0L I think) and a manual transmission (next to impossible without obtaining some sort of premium package, in L.A. at least).
I had just experienced the last straw with my '89 Jeep Cherokee. It had a great chassis and indestructible engine (4.0L I6). But with a normal operating temperature of 210 degrees F and a sealed, pressurized cooling system, the plastic reservoir would crack and vent boiled fluid immediately after replacement (replaced it 3 separate times, each time with the parts counter rep just smiling at me when I asked why the plastic reservoirs couldn't be found anywhere but the dealership). But the last straw was the trail of ATF fluid I left over a 2 mile stretch (trying keep my momentum and coast back to my neighborhood). There was no way I was going to rebuild the transmission just to deal with that poorly engineered cooling system again.
So I took my sister and went to see my buddy. Upon arriving, I saw the used cars lined up at the front of the dealership. Two WRB WRXs staring right at me. I turned to my sister and said, "we will be taking home one of these tonight."
I proceeded to discuss Mazda 6 sedans with my buddy, going through packages, etc. He was nice enough to search for the exact package I wanted. To my surprise, he actually located a "stripper" 3.0L with a manual transmission. It was about 100 miles away and it would take a couple days to deliver. We talked price and financing. He had to talk with his sales manager about it. I said that my sister and I would go look at some cars outside while we waited.
Now I know that there are at least 3 pairs of eyes on everyone who is walking around the lot "by themselves". So, I meandered through the Mazda 3s and Forresters at a leisurely pace, while actually trying to get different visual angles on the two used WRXs. After about 15 minutes, my buddy came out just as I had approached my targets. I asked him nonchalantly about them. He said one had about 40k miles but had just received a new engine and transmission. The other one had about 22k and was a lease return by an "older guy". That sealed it for me, I was taking it for a test drive. Someone else could have the new engine and transmission.
It was hard to keep a poker face after that, but I did. I then suggested that I was curious as to what the financing could be on the WRX compared to the Mazda 6. There were no special APRs on the WRX but I talked him down about 10% on the price. It ended up being a favorable deal, and we closed it.
I will keep my WRX until the day I die.