I worked two jobs during nursing school. I bought a beat up 1995 Plymouth Neon - stick shift and a pretty decent radio. It had 2/40 air conditioning (2 windows rolled down driving at 40 mph). The only thing I cared about was the heater, since I lived in Buffalo.
The gauges worked when they felt like it. I once drove an entire stretch from Ohio through Illinois with a non-working instrument panel - I had no idea how much gas I had left or if the engine was overheating etc. The only thing that worked faithfully was the tachometer - so I used to guesstimate my speed based on engine revs and which gear I was in (e.g.: 1800-2000 rpm in 5th gear was roughly 35 mph).
Since the instrument panel worked erratically, the odometer didn't always run either. I had no idea about the true mileage of the car. These things sorta start to matter because you start to imagine scenarios like where your pistons ram through the camshaft because of a timing belt that wasn't replaced at the 'appropriate mileage' or busting a strut because of not having a safety inspection done at the 'appropriate mileage' so on and so forth...
It took me on several 1000 mile trips (and helped me move between two apartments. How I managed to cram my clothes, utensils, computer, stereo system and books and transport them thousands of miles, I alone know). It lasted through some of the worst winters Buffalo threw at us. It saved my ass during a real bad 75 mph spin out on the I-55.
That piece of junk lasted till 2007. I was driving home after my 4th 12 hour night shift in a row. I entered a school zone and with kids around, hit the brakes to slow down. Pedal went all the way to the floor but the car kept going. I used the gearbox to slow down to the point where I could yank the emergency brake. Thankfully, it worked and I was able to stop the car. By then I was wide awake and terrified.
I upgraded to a Honda within 2 weeks after that incident.
So, that was my "school car". What was yours?