This was my first car, bought it at 40K miles for about $3K. Best purchase I've ever made to date. My father regularly changed the oil and we took it for regular check-ups. Had to replace the alternator once, and had to replace the breaks & heater at about 100K miles (this was probably more due to the fact that when I was younger, I was a bit excessive with my acceleration and subsequent breaking). Aside from those two things (and the occasional windshield blade needing to be replaced), this car has been incredible.
I ran it pretty hard (to and from Virginia for four years) and I think it has lived a VERY full life. I'll miss my ford.
For a 4 cylinder (and a personality in need of speed), it has been good enough for the past 6 years. I tell people that I "zip around town" in my little '99 red ford escort. The pick-up is surprising. Not to mention it's small enough to fit in compact car parking spots!