In the five years and 100,000 miles that I have owned this car, I have only had breakdowns that stranded me twice:
1) When the battery died and
2) When a U-joint failed and the driver's side front wheel snapped and buckled into the body of the car. This incident occurred at around 130,000 miles or so.
In addition, I have had the following items repaired or replaced as necessary:
- Struts and some related hardware, front and rear;
- Valve seals;
- Steering tie rods;
- Power antenna;
- Timing belt and other belts;
- Driver's window regulator/motor assembly.
All things considered, this has been an outstanding car. I purchased this 1994 car in fall of 1998 with 63,000 miles. It had not had any of the typical maintenance items (e.g., timing belt replacement) done at that time, but the car was in cosmetically perfect condition and ran perfectly. I have spent a total of $2,000 to $3,000 in repairs (exclusive of maintenance) to keep the car in perfect running condition for the last five years and 100,000 miles of my ownership of this car to date. I consider this a very good tradeoff, since I purchased this $30,000 automobile for $12,000.
Cosmetically, I intensely disliked the fact that the factory alloy wheels are a bit recessed from the body of the car, giving it an upleasant resemblance (in that limited respect) to a Chevy Caprice. To remedy this, I replaced the 15" factory alloy wheels with 16" Borbet wheels, which are not radically styled, but make the whole car look much more up to date. The offset of the new wheels is much more pleasing against the rest of the body. The aesthetic difference is amazing! Since I live in an area with snowy winters, I kept my factory wheels and mounted dedicated winter tires on them. Now I am virtually invincible in winter driving, and the car look gorgeous during the rest of the year with the updated 16" wheels.
In terms of performance, acceleration is nothing that leaves me breathless; however, for the amount of horsepower it has, the car does very well. The transmission pleasantly lets the engine rev to 4,000 RPMs with only moderate pressure on the accelerator. Not only does this make power available even when not "flooring it," but the engine sounds very happy at high RPMs, which is not the case with most American cars of that vintage. The transmission is also pretty cooperative in providing smooth downshifting out of overdrive for good passing ability.
Braking is excellent, providing quick stops while not pulling to the side in wet or icy/snowy conditions.
Handling is really very good--better than the factory wheels and tire size are capable of keeping up with. In place of the factory 205/65-15 tires, I use 225/55-16s. With the upgraded wheels and tires, the car's road hugging capabilities are extraordinary for a vehicle that is not ultra-expensive. Also, there was no significant tradeoff in comfort for the added grip. The car's suspension still keeps the ride pleasant for both driver and passengers.
The two design issues that have been occasionally annoying are the lack of a real glove compartment and the small trunk. The passenger side airbag is located where many cars would have some storage. When this car was redesigned for its final iteration, the gas tank ended up located behind the back seat (which is probably due to the fact that this version of the 929 was made shorter in height and lower riding). The location of the gas tank makes the trunk quite a bit shallower from front to back than one would expect. It also precludes any pass-through or fold-down back seat in the design of the car. The trunk size has not adversely impacted my ability to use the car, but it would preclude using it for packing for a serious family road trip.
The biggest problem that this car has caused for me is angst over my next car purchase. I now own a gorgeous, 10-year-old car with $161,000 miles that is worth perhaps $5,000. For such a low value car, it is still a joy to drive, and it looks beautiful. (I am a REALTOR, and I continue to receive compliments from my clients when then ride in the car for the first time. They're always shocked when I tell them the car is more than a decade old.) To replace this car with anything that I would like better, I would have to spend several times what the car is worth.