The standard things which normally wear out:
The front brakes have now been done on both cars - 3 times each.
Rear brakes once each.
Front struts replaced in both cars around 120,000 km.
Both cars had a problem with the crank shaft which caused the motors to blow. Apparently there were a number of slightly warped ones that year. 2.2 L - replaced under warranty. The 2.5 - was 10,000 km over so not covered. No problems since.
Replaced the front axles due to cracked boots, but after 15 years I can't complain about that - it was less than $130 per car.
Put in new alternators in the last 6 months in both cars -- again after 15 years - expected.
2.2 Automatic Problems:
The resistor block for the heater fan failed and caused a wonderful electrical problem - burnt out the fuseable link. Was a $100 repair and a bit fun to try and figure out. No one seemed to know, but eventually found something on a website and wow that was the problem.
Recently I had to replace the pickup switch which was easy enough to do and the part was only $50 or so.
2.5 Standard Problems:
Needed a new exhaust system shortly after the crankshaft replacement due to a plugged catalytic converter.
Recently the plastic valve between the engine cooling system and the heater core broke -- simply removed it and didn't even install a new one.
Put in a new oxygen sensor -- engine runs a lot better now - again expected after 15 years.
Radio in one of the cars is now toast, but it lasted 13 years so I can't complain.
Most of the side panels are galvanized steel and the paint has held up really well. Both cars were in front end accidents and the replacement parts were not galvanized so there is now some rust showing up on them, but even that is minor.
When we bought the cars new, I knew nothing about fixing cars. We had very little money, so with the exception of oil changes (which I did), we did almost no maintenance on either vehicle for over 8 years. They held up well and this last year we have got them both back up to snuff, having dealt with some minor problems and catching up on a lot of the things we should have done earlier.
The 2.2L EFI is an automatic and is bit underpowered (I call it the Gutless Sierra) but for going around town, my wife has no complaints (though she likes the Astro van better because she is higher up). By the way these cars are much cheaper and eaiser to maintain than the Astro Van.
The 2.5 L is a standard and I find it accelerates fine (even better than some of that Japanese stuff out there ;) ).
Both the interior and exterior have held up well on both cars.
Living in Alberta where winter can get really cold, these will still start at -30 Celcius, heat up and run well.
I was thinking of getting a new car last year, but I am quite happy with the Shadows. I can't justify $15,000 to $30,000 for a new car when these just keep going and going.