My first car was an 85 dodge dakota, bought it used in 1989. I had been raised around dodge as my dad worked for a dodge dealership all of my life, still does. I got my license in 1990 and did exactly what any kid does, go everywhere, I put 70,000 miles on it in 2 years.
I joined the Marines in 92 right after my 17th birthday, and took my truck with me to my first duty station. By that time it had 130,000+ miles on it and it was nickle and diming me to death every payday something small broke on it, never anything major except the clutch and water pump. I was always having to bum a ride from someone even though I had a truck. Finally one day I was riding in the bed of a friend's truck (which was illegal at Camp Lejeune) we both got in trouble.
I had a GySgt who really helped me out. He towed my truck to the auto shop so I could fix it, then he went with me to a Ford dealership to get a decent vehicle, and make sure I didn't get screwed over. I got a brand new 1993 Ford Ranger with just over 500 miles on it, got a pretty good deal on it too. I drove that thing everywhere, and never had a single problem with it.
Finally in June 2001 I got married and that August when I come back from Okinawa, Japan I traded in my Ranger now with 275,000 miles on it for a new 2001 Ranger with 20 miles on it. I went back to Camp Lejeune and drove it for about a month then got deployed to Afghanistan. I got shot over there and went to a hospital in Germany for a few months, come back just in time for our first wedding anniversary. I got transferred to the reserves pending a medical discharge, a few months later we found out we were going to have our first addition to the family, along he came 9 months to the day from the time I got home.
I couldn't haul a kid and a wife in a Ford Ranger, so I traded it in with just under 20,000 miles on her. I had to get something fast and my full time job had just become part time and possibly not at all, thankfully I had money saved up from extra pay on deployment, but I had to get a good deal. My dad got me an outstanding deal on a brand new 2003 dodge durango with 60 miles on it, I only had to finance $4500. It was a good truck while there was a warranty on it, but it drank gas, 14 MPG on the highway. I kept the durango until just this year (mainly because when gas prices were almost $5 a gallon my truck worth $15,000 did a nose dive and was only worth $1500 for scrap. So I kept it. It didn't nickel and dime me like my last dodge did, the durango had major issues $500 here, $500 there, and it was getting more and more frequent, things that had been fixed were breaking again, finally it blew a head gasket and it would cost more to fix it than what the truck was worth in excellent condition if I sold it retail.
I got a job on the police dept in 2003 and used my police car for most things when gas got expensive because it got better fuel mileage, then I got laid off in 2008. Thankfully my wife has a really good job, and I teach martial arts, self defense, rifle and pistol marksmanship, and defensive shooting classes on the side. Plus after fighting for 6 years to go back on active duty I got a medical discharge with a lump sum and because I had 16 years in the Marine Corps most of it active duty I got medical retirement, now I get 50% of my active duty base pay, every month, and because it was combat related its tax free.
We moved for my wife's job and bought a house and had some money left over so we went looking for a new car. I decided that I would only buy a Ford from now on. The new ones were a bit out of our price range, and being through hard times in the past we decided to never finance anything ever again we'll save the money and buy it outright. But the durango left us using a $500 car which burned oil and leaked coolant, so we went looking for used, my criteria was 2 years old or less with 20,000 miles or less. I wanted a Ford Escape because of the fuel mileage, the safety, and the room inside. We couldn't find an escape that fit that profile. Finally we found a Mazda Tribute that fit the bill, since its the same as a Ford Escape with a different grill and different badges, not to mention Mazda is owned by Ford. We jumped at it. I am once again a happy Ford customer, and I will never own anything but a Ford ever again.