WHAT TO LOOK FOR
These cars resist rust well, but if the front or rear screens have leaked, it will affect the bulkheads and footwells; look from inside the engine bay and in the car itself. Other known grot spots are the double-skinned rear wheelarches and the rear inner panels. Look inside the boot for a rotten spare wheel well and check the edge of the bootlid too. On estates, scrutinise the split tailgate carefully. Front wings, around the wheelarches and headlamps, plus the lower edges of doors, can suffer from corrosion and, naturally, check all along the sills too. The bonnet edge and seams around the grille are also vulnerable.
Engines are tough, but the early 1580cc unit isn’t as strong as its successors as it has a three-bearing crank rather than the later five-bearing one. Regular oil changes are the secret to a long life, as is using the correct Volvo oil filter with a non-return valve. Listen for noisy bearings plus loud timing gear. Check the temperature; if it’s running cool, then it may be a failed thermostat. Needles in the original Stromberg carburettors can wear, so many owners upgrade to SUs instead. Warm oil pressure should be 40psi at idle, or 50-55psi on the move.
Most cars have a fourspeed manual gearbox, but three-speeders and automatics are just as resilient. A manual car with overdrive is a wise choice. The rubber in the centre of the propshaft wears out in time; unfortunately, choosing which one of the three possible replacements is the right one to fit is a challenge.
WHAT LIES BENEATH?
Suspension bushes, especially for the wishbones, wear out. Coil springs have a tendency to break too. Earlier cars have a rear radius arm that rusts badly, so get underneath and check it. On estates, the radius arms are heavy duty but can still fail.
THE INSIDE STORY
Interiors are simple and hard wearing, though certain items of trim can be difficult or expensive to source. That includes exterior items such as the complex bumpers. Electrical issues are usually bad earths, corrosion or a blown 30amp fuse in the engine bay.