Years ago I purchased a very high end gas grill that cost a lot. Within 3 years I had to start replacing all kinds of parts which was very disappointing. Then I came across what I think was the first Weber Performer and since I prefer charcoal I purchased one. The originals are a bit different than the newer models, it has a stainless steel top and uses a 5 pound propane tank. Also I think the charcoal storage basket is better protected from the elements.
Believe I've had this grill well over 20 years and have never covered it even in the winter. I live on a canal and the spiders are huge and when I use to cover the old grill the spiders just loved getting in there. In addition to the top being stainless steel I think the cart is aluminum, never rusts. Maintenance on this thing is great, I did some touch up painting on the cart due to a little bit of fading from the sun. Replaced the grills a few times, painted the small propane tank once and have it inspected as required.
About 5 years ago I noticed a chip in the kettle and a bit of rust and was really worried that I might not be able to order a new kettle that fit. Called Weber and they were great, the Rep said they have replacement kettles that fit perfectly. Think is was something like $100 to make this thing like new.
What I really like is using the propane to start the charcoal, no charcoal lighter fluid. Stack up the charcoal, turn on the propane for 5 minutes or so and turn it off. Takes about 25 to 30 minutes and ready to BBQ on charcoal that doesn't have a hint of lighter fluid.