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.