Let me first start by saying that this particular car has been in three accidents that I am aware of, and because of that, not everything lines up perfectly, such as doors, fenders/hood. However, for less than $2,000, I could hardly turn down the car, knowing the body shop guys that put it back together personally. The car looks very good for its age, inside and out.
When I first purchased the car, I had to tackle a pretty bad oil leak from the front seal. About 2 hours of work, maybe 100 bucks in parts, and a couple drops of blood later, good as new. The car still burns oil very slowly, as I have come to expect and accept from most Chrysler motors, but otherwise, it hasn't had any oil issues.
After about a year and having put roughly 12k miles on it, on a hot Texas summer day I should add, the radiator cracked, and the temperature went up. My fiance was driving at the time, and having listened to me read all the horror stories about this particular motor, was in the habit of checking the gauge very often on hot days. She immediately pulled over, shut the motor off, and when I got out there, I filled it up with water, drove it home (about 5 miles), proceeded to replace the radiator for about $200 that weekend, and never had a problem with it again.
Cold season came around, and suddenly I had a new leak. This time, trans fluid. I tracked the leak to the upper cooler hose that connects to the driver side radiator. Closer inspection revealed that this could well have been a self-inflicted problem, as I noticed some plier teeth marks right about the same spot the pin-hole sized leak was. I believe that, combined with the extremely cold weather we had that weekend, along with 10-year-old stiff hoses was what did it. I replaced the hose, along with the lower hose, and have not had a problem since.
Honestly, with all the bad stuff floating around about this car, I purchased it knowing and fully expecting the motor to die on us, I just wanted to get about a year of service out of it, and I must say, it has well exceeded that goal, with virtually no investment above normal maintenance.
I run a super thin synthetic blend oil, to help reduce the chance of sludge build up, change the oil and filter about every 4-5k miles. I have never had any signs of problems, save for one 'scare', let alone anything major with the motor.
The scare came on an early morning after the car had sat for a very cold weekend without being driven. After starting it up, there was a fairly loud tapping for about 30 seconds. Shutting the car off and turning her back on a few minutes later, the sound was gone, and has remain gone since. I assume it was something like a sticky lifter or something along those lines, but I truly hope I never find out.
Now, working towards its 3rd year of valiant service as a family car for us, I can honestly say I am thrilled with the car. I have put less than $4000 into the car, including purchase price, repairs, maintenance, and a set of tires, brakes and rotors. It's still going strong, and I believe it very well make it beyond 150k miles, and with some TLC well beyond.
Let me also say that this car is absolutely superb on gas. Guzzling is not in its vocabulary. Sipping would be a much better word. Every other week this car does over a 250 mile round trip on a single tank of gas, with some to spare.
Performance, considering it's not an R/T, or a sports car by any means, is great. It goes when you step on the pedal. Period. It doesn't matter if you're doing 30 and need to jump up to 40, or pass someone in a 55, or even merge from a 55 to a 70, this car will get there, and in a hurry if necessary. It never complains, never shifts hard, never stutters. I have never raced the car, nor attempted a top speed, as it simply doesn't NEED to do those sort of things for what it is to us; a family car, but I am certain it would perform well, were I to ever to try.
I think if people take good car of these motors, and the car itself in particular, they will see that these things, while not bullet proof, can be very reliable, comfortable, fun to drive, and very inexpensive for a large sedan.