Front struts rusted out (blocked drain holes, car been standing for some time before I bought it). Volvo wanted £300+VAT per side - I did it with two breaker's yard struts (£50), a tin of Hammerite and two new BOGE shocks (£80).
Pushrod snapped - local inept (Lada garage) greasemonkeys tightened down rocker cover too tight, so no clearance.
Brake master cylinder died. Also seal went on radiator, could have been caused by someone leaning on it, apparently.
I needed a car to ferry me home from University at the weekends (20 miles each way) to my part-time job. Budget: £1000. Criteria: Rust-free, reasonable size, rear-wheel drive. Bought the car in October '96 with 37,000 miles, mint condition with FSH. Have averaged 1000 miles/month since then.
Likes: Rust-free (Waxoyled it over the summer, a little surface on the rear arch lips now but not bad since it lives outside), solid build, great stereo (put in by me, it didn't have any radio when I got it), comfy seats, interior roomier than you think, rear-drive antics (but doesn't really have enough power), cheap insurance, easy to fix (Renault engine).
Dislikes: Beige paintwork, low MPG (4-speed, heavy car), lack of performance, arthritic image, little niggly faults that occur when you start doing larger mileages on a car that isn't used to it.
Sum-up: Surely better than a fifth-hand rusting Astra/Escort for the price.