Excellent news. Well, perhaps, moderate news at least.
Parts for the car are going to be about $100 less then we expected for the parts that we knew we would have to buy. Unfortunatly I also had a gasket, and a ball barring that need to be replaced. The gasket was about $40 and the ball baring will be about the same. J took my car to work today so hopefully that get's squared away tonight and I can have my car back. I've been driving J's truck the last few days. S, the mechanic, wants $100 for his time which is a far cry less then what I would pay if I had taken it to an actual shop instead of my J's shop (sounds complicated, but only if you don't know who I am and what J does).
S, was previously a Mazda mechanic for 15 years and said that if I treat the car right and get regular maintenance I should be able to get 500,000km on that car. I'm pushing 180,000km now - so it has a long life ahead of it. Looking at it that way, it's worth the $300-500 we are putting into it now.
I feel pretty good about everying. I hope I will be able to save a few hundred dollars for the next time this comes up. I'm going to look at my savings accounts and goals and make sure I've got a plan to take care of this beater of mine.