Shortly after buying, the head gasket started leaking slowly into the water, but not vice versa. Still runs OK despite overheating issues.
Around the 75k mark, the front brakes started making a noise when warmed up, due to a sticky piston in the caliper slightly pushing the pad against the disc. I put up with it until the MOT when the pads were replaced. The problem is currently worse than ever before, but the car is being scrapped soon, so I'm not wasting money on it again. Suspect a new caliper is needed.
The alternator died at about 82k, still charged the battery, but the charge warning light stayed on. Just before an MOT too! Obviously this can happen to any car.
One morning the idle (again, just before MOT) started playing up. The symptoms displayed were raised revs at closed throttle, meaning when you lifted off the power, it would actually gain speed if left in gear. No engine braking ability led to faded brakes, and dangerous loss of throttle control. The stepper motor needed reseting, and all was well; still no idea what caused the issue initially though.
Finally, all my way through ownership, it's had a damp start issue which has got worse over time. New HT leads didn't help at all. Basically if I don't take it out a couple of times a day, it won't start next morning. I assume this is because the warmth from the engine through the night keeps the condensation from forming as it would normally.
I'm lucky to have a patient local mechanic who has come out to me numerous times for no charge to get the car going after I've flattened the battery. Each time it takes absolutely ages turning over to get going, even then sometimes it needs full throttle to get just 2000rpm to turn round the 3 pistons that aren't firing. Cue much smoke as all the fuel suddenly burns through the cat converter.
This has happened at least 8 times, mainly happens after rain or fog. The car now bears several scars, evidence of my Basil Fawlty like annoyance at it for not starting when I need it to!
Much as I hate this car, it has it's good points. The engine, despite the design problems, it very good. For a 1.4 it's about as fast as my old 205 GTI 1.6 in a straight line; not so torquey, but mid range is pretty good beyond 4000rpm, easily good enough for most overtaking moves.
I think I would have enjoyed this immensely as a first car, but I don't think young drivers could handle it, they're simply dangerous to drive fast.
Handling is poor, very poor, though can be an amusing challenge in the dry as the steering is surprisingly communicative. In the wet they are deadly, with all bends having to be taken at stupidly slow speeds. Wet or dry, they're easy to get the back end out, 4 wheel drifts are pretty easily done if you're too enthusiastic. Then again, these cars are for 70+ years olds...
Interior is comfortable enough and very bland, but not very supportive. Also the seat's are only good for people under 6' tall with the top of them coming up to my shoulders (I'm 6' 4"). I really wouldn't want to be rear ended in this car as whiplash is a certainty. I'd probably be scalped by the sunroof recess too.