At $3,000, Is This Damaged 2002 Subaru WRX A Damn-Good Deal?

Nice Price or No Dice: 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX wagon
Photo: Craigslist

Today’s Nice Price or No Dice Subaru has a salvage title and a nose that looks like it lost a bout to Mike Tyson. Neither of those issues should be insurmountable for a savvy buyer. We’ll have to decide if its price might just be.

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If your favorite president is Abraham Lincoln and your favorite song is Hot Rod Lincoln, then you might just be a prime candidate for yesterday’s 2001 Lincoln LS V6. With its five-speed stick, that car represented the rarest of the rare from Ford’s upper-crust brand. With a mere $2,500 asking price, it was affordable, even for us poors. A cracked K-frame was the only monkey in the wrench, but even that couldn’t dim the enthusiasm shown in the votes as the car took home a solid 76 percent Nice Price win.

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Photo: Craigslist

Yesterday’s Lincoln needed a bit of work to be whole, but it at least had a clean title and was driveable at night. The same can’t be said — on either account — for today’s 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX wagon. As seen in the ad’s pictures, the car has suffered front end damage that has caused the loss of lights and grille, and folded the hood like it’s a mash note passed between middle schoolers. According to that same ad, however, the damage is purely superficial and does not affect the mechanicals. Nonetheless, the car comes with a salvage title and — in reverse vampire fashion — the inability to go out at night.

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Photo: Craigslist

Before we summarily write off the car based on these demerits, let’s consider its more positive aspects. First off, it’s claimed to “run well,” and to have been “well maintained.” Another plus is a timing belt refresh done at 149,000 miles. The car has 178,000 on the clock at present. Other aesthetic aspects include the expected red mud flaps and a number of hoon-identifying stickers on the windows. Other than those pieces, everything is claimed to be stock and unmolested.

The body shows a few additional nicks, dents, and scrapes to go along with the mashed maw. Honestly, nothing here looks too daunting to tackle, even for the amateur driveway mechanic. Also, all the parts to get the car back into fighting shape should be readily available pretty much everywhere.

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Photo: Craigslist

A quick glance at the interior shows it to be relatively stock as well, with just the addition of a boost gauge and aftermarket shift knob to take you out of the moment. The stereo is AWOL and the interior really could use a good cleaning, especially all the dog hair on the back seat. At least there’s no evidence that the driver suffered a code brown when the front end got smacked up.

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The engine, of course, is Subaru’s 227 horsepower turbocharged 2-liter flat-four with its block-topping intercooler. The folded hood makes the scoop for that a bit redundant at the moment, but the mechanicals underneath the damage all look as they should. The rest of the drivetrain is said to function without issue and the car is claimed to drive under its own power so there’s no rubbing or leaking manifested from the hit.

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Photo: Craigslist
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The asking price for this compelling mix of good and bad is $3,000. Now, as we all know, the WRX — even the bug-eyed versions like this — can cost some serious bank. It’s also getting harder to find one that hasn’t been messed up in the attempt to meet some previous owner’s exacting personal tastes. This one needs help, but, as the ad notes, could make for a straightforward project.

What do you think, does this smashed Subaru look worth that $3,000 as it sits? Or, is that just too much to ask for a facelift-needing WRX with a salvage title?

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You decide!

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Portland, Oregon, Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

Help me out with NPOND. Hit me up at rob@jalopnik.com and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.

DISCUSSION

shanemorris
Shane Morris

This is a Wheeze car.

Back in my Oregon days, I had this buddy named Wheeze. (He got that name because he had super bad asthma.) Wheeze always wrecked his cars. In fact, Wheeze wrecked a bug eyed WRX just like this once. When I saw this car was in Oregon, part of me wondered if I should reply to the ad, just to see if Wheeze was still up to his old tricks.

Some people wreck a car, and their mind immediately turns to parts value. “Well, those seats are worth $300 for the pair at least. And if someone is building a Seven replica, they could swap in this EJ and make a killer track toy. Those taillights? Hard to find. $300, easy.”

So they start doing math in their head, and arrive at this dollar figure nowhere near the value of the vehicle in question. Could you part this thing out and get $3,000 for it? Yes. Would it take a while? Yes. Would be it be laborious and annoying? Also... yes.

Your wrecked car is not immediately worth its parts value unless you happen to already operate a large salvage yard. This is a $1,000 car, because no matter what happens, you have to tow it somewhere, and you’re going to need to locate a front crossmember, and a new radiator, and whatever else on the front clip needs to be replaced. Those parts are going to set you back at least $2,000, at which point you’ve paid $3,000 and then another $2,000 to get it running right... and now you have a bug eye WRX with 170,000 miles on the clock and a salvage title.

$1,000. That’s what a sane person should pay for this car.