These little things are about the most reliable machines I have ever had the pleasure to operate. Anything that can keep ticking nicely at nearly 237,000 miles is a bargain.
I had to sink a little bit of time and money into it initially to get it road worthy, but that price is pretty negligible. The car cost me $164. Tack in a tranny at $272, and a CV joint at $66, plus about $60 for new plugs, wires, and fluids.. and we have a grand total of about $562 total for a nice little daily driver.
The car makes no strange noises now (as opposed to initial purchase: box of rocks transmission, and a rattling CV axle). Engine fires up consistently, ticks over clean, handles well given the inherent characteristics of a front wheel drive machine. Haven't had to put brake parts in yet. Recent fluid change, and oil is still nice and clean.
I get decent mileage somewhere in the 40mpg range (on the freeway), and couldn't be happier.
Parking is never a problem, thanks to the dimunitive size.
These cars present a great value for the money, given that many people sell their machines off for well under $1000, and if you have a bit of mechanical ability, you can find cars that are in decent physical condition that need a few minor repairs at a real bargain. Combine that with inexpensive parts and really exceptional gas mileage, and you more or less have a winner.
I have heard people talk trash about these little cars, calling them slow, junk, and just about any other name in the book. Most of the high horsepower lead-sleds can't last as many mile, nor can they pass up the next gas station on the road.
If you are in the market for a decently built, inexpensive commuter car, then you really can't go wrong if you find a used festiva in decent shape.