The early 1990s Toyota Corolla is pretty much as legendary as the same era Toyota Tacoma. Toyota could do no interesting, but they also could do no wrong: these cars are fantastically reliable, comfortable and get you there.
I recall something about the timing chain being the magic, instead of a belt.
When my '65 Galaxie convertible finally ate it, I was so tired of constant problems that I bought a red late 90s Corolla. Nothing went wrong with it, but life got boring.
For $500 I would be pretty excited.