Thanks all for the welcome!
Wally, I'm in the Albany area
I didn't choose the 2014, it's what was there. I wanted a stick shift Mirage since they came out, and this was the first one we had going to wholesale that was cheap and good. I paid $2000 for it, which makes it one of the most expensive cars I've ever bought.
The right things being wrong with it: It's got a CEL for a evap leak, which on every Mirage is a cracked fuel pump housing, a fairly easy and cheap fix that is not urgent at all. The ABS and traction control lights are on because one of the wheel speed sensors is missing. Who knows what happened there, but it's great for me because I disable those systems on my cars anyway. It also had the license plate light bracket rotted out, which isn't a big deal to remove the bumper cover and replace the assembly. But telling a customer that it's going to be $250 to fix those lights, that are required to pass state inspection, it just doesn't go over well and contributes to a feeling of wanting to get out of the car.
The main reason it wasn't something we could retail was the 145k mileage. It was also beyond disgusting inside. If you can imagine running a variety of snackfoods and candy through a cheese grater and mashing into every bit of carpet and fabric in the car, it was like that with some animal hair thrown in for good measure. Took 6 hours to clean, pulling all the seats and console out. Had to vacuum, scrub, and vacuum again every square inch of carpet and seat fabric. Some spots even more.
I have no idea what the rear alignment is, but I don't care because they are all out of spec and not adjustable. I also don't know if the heater core has ever been done, but I wouldn't mind doing it if it starts leaking because it's gives me a reason to pull the dash and clean the guts completely.
As far as rust, it's standard for a Mirage that's seen 9 winters (fares way better than the average Mitsu or cheap car). Like them all, the only rust on the bodyshell is where there has been damage that broke the paint. Whatever they did with that shell during production, it works.
I had the fender liners out the other night and the pile of dirt inside that cavity behind the wheel was inches thick, and when I cleaned it all out the paint and metal underneath was unaffected by years of moisture held against it in a confined area. Very impressive. A pic that shows the spot after I cleaned it out:
The subframe and suspension have normal surface rust. I flooded the subframe with anti-corrosion wax for now, and I'll TLC everything else as I go. It has many years left in it if I keep it clean underneath.
Let me conclude by saying addressing the elephant in the room. The engine purrs. Not a hint of bottom end noise that results in replacing the engine. However, it's not a big deal if I pop the engine because good used ones can be had for around $600. Also, the transmission shifts like it's still new. I know that's not saying much for overall smoothness, but it's still working as designed and seems to have no wear. I replaced the fluid with Redline MTL, which improved synchronizer performance as always, and the old oil came out clean with no visible particles or debris.