Citroen Xantia Estates are cheap, very good and extra comfy with hydraulic suspension. You can also drive through streams on the 'high setting!!!
Always go for a VSX model as the suspension is better. Word of warning though, you need a reliable independent specialist to do servicing and repairs, as the Citroen main dealers I've come across are not very switched on and too pricey.
If you can bring yourself to buy French (and I did, even though I've never really forgiven them over the beef issue), I reckon they are a very good deal. PS They don't hold their value though, but that's why they are so cheap. You also have to learn to live with the extra hydraulics they have, which does mean a touch more maintenance and something else to go wrong, but you either love em or hate em. They are great for bad backs!!
I'd also suggest asking around you local dealers to see what they've had in on a part exchange.
Leave your name & phone number with them because they'll more than happily (in most cases) ring you when they get something in that would interest you, i did & i've ended up with all sortas from mini's to 4x4's (one of which is sat on my driveway right now).
Don't know what area you're in but look for your free ads paper (bargain pages or loot) savanna's (as Alan mentions above) can be picked up for around the 500 mark taxed & tested, there was one in the bargain pages a week ago on an h plate T&T some service history etc for 350.
There's a monster outside my window..can i have a glass of water?
i'd go for citroen xantia turbo diesel, you can get them very cheep now and you cant beat the ride on them its better than a merc.i've had 3 of them and the one i got at the moment has got 175000 miles on it and is still going strong with no problems at all.the other good thing is that its got hydrolic suspension so no matter how much weight you put in it it levels out.
Why buy an estate where you have to fold the seats down all the time? Why not buy a small van? Picked up a Fiat Punto Diesel van last year. Uses less diesel than a bicycle and you dont have to worry about mucking up the seats as the driving compartment and back of van are separated by a grill. I sometimes though have to put the rods on the roof rack if there's 2 of us going fishing. Fiats are extremely reliable these days.Counting the van I'm now on my 3rd Punto with my wife now driving the 2nd - she's sorted, I'm sorted(a fisherman's idea of marital bliss!!).
i don't drive as i am only 14 but my mum drives a passat estate which is really comfortable and fits in tons of fishing gear. you could also try a toyota corolla estate which again is very comfortable and fits in loads. my friend's (ja4146) has got 1 and took me, james and another friend carping for a day. we took everything we needed and still had room for sitting comfortably