I was getting close to buying a WRX, then started reading this thread. I was going to get a 2004, thinking the tranny was different, but now I don't think so.
My last hope would be to get a low mile 2002 or 2003 (to get the cheaper price for an older car) and pay to have the gears changed out to stronger ones.
Does that seem like a valid solution? Essentially, I could get a 2002 with 30k miles on it for $18k, pay $2,000 to get new aftermarket gears. Wouldn't that be better than paying $20,000 for a 2004 with 20k miles on it? (Using rough numbers of course) I would just hate to get a newer one and have to get the gears replaced several times, since it doesn't seem they are using any better parts.
What is a good aftermarket gear set to get? How much for parts and labor to install it? Would it solve all of the flaws that the WRX has?