I'm really very happy with this car, bought it for £800, as a ten year old car with 13 months MOT, in good working order, but without any service history, so took a bit of a gamble.
As I needed to use the car for a few years ideally, I decided to get the cambelt changed to be on the safe side, it is mentioned a little on the Internet that a disastrous cambelt failure is relatively common on these engines. To keep costs down, I bought from the Internet a genuine Ford kit (£80), and got a qualified friend to do it for me on the cheap (another £80). Ford quotes £300 fitted, a little cheaper elsewhere. It is fairly difficult as space is limited and at least one, maybe two engine mounts need to be removed.
Since then, it's been absolutely great, oil can be changed myself (filter from Motorfactors for £3 approx), a change of front tyres which seem to wear quickly, but good part worns fitted for £50 a pair. It needed £200 of work for the MOT, but nothing major has failed at all, it always starts, runs quite well, returns very respectable mpg, at around 40, regardless of how its driven.
At the start of winter 2008, changed the glowplugs as starting had become very hard work, now starts well. Plugs are a little awkward to fit but can be sought for £12 - £15 in the right place, (ebay usually).
After 18 months it's still fine, unspectacular but reliable and safe. It's a little underpowered for some at only 89bhp, but being only 18 when I got mine, as a first car, it made it insurable for me! Any faster and I wouldn't have had a chance!
To be honest it's fine for all day to day uses, commuting on any roads, holds its own on the motorway at 70, 80 or 90 without any trouble, however any more than 90 and the drone becomes a bit much. I've been all over the country on the motorways in mine, and it's absolutely fine and very economical. For the money it's been fantastic, it's already paid me back in 18 months, owes me nothing at all.
It's the basic LX, but has everything you realistically need, still quite comfortable and with a large load space.
Theres loads to choose from, an MOT'd runner from only a couple of hundred upwards, pick wisely and you'll get a bargain.
If you want something powerful, smooth and with great acceleration, you'll need to look elsewhere: if you want something that looks quite alright, attracts no unwanted attention, is cheap on fuel, to insure and so stubbornly reliable and able to move huge amounts of junk when required, all for only a few hundred quid, look no further.