How’s it bat­tling cor­ro­sion?

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying Guide -

Rot­ten bodywork isn’t rare; as a gen­eral rule of thumb, scru­ti­nise the whole struc­ture and ev­ery panel. How­ever, there are some spe­cific weak points. The sill drain holes can get blocked with pre­dictable con­se­quences, the tops and bot­toms of the doors rot and so do in­ner and outer wings. Also check the bat­tery tray, floor­pans and footwells, B-post and the bootlid trail­ing edge. If the door gaps open up at the top the chas­sis has been weak­ened by cor­ro­sion or not be­ing prop­erly braced when the sills have been re­placed. An­other sign of a bodged re­build is miss­ing bead­ing along the seam be­tween the top of the bolt-on rear wings and the deck. Rot is quite likely in the rear deck as sev­eral pan­els meet here. Look at the metal around the lights, front and rear, as this is an­other favourite spot where tin­worm likes to breed.

Chas­sis check-up

If chas­sis rot is bad, it might need the body off to re­pair. The worstaf­fected ar­eas are usu­ally the dif­fer­en­tial mount­ing brack­ets and the cen­tre sec­tion. Poorly re­paired ac­ci­dent dam­age is an­other prob­a­bil­ity, so scru­ti­nise the front sus­pen­sion tur­rets, the mount­ing brack­ets (from which the wish­bones pivot), out­rig­gers, steer­ing rack mount­ings and the sus­pen­sion it­self. Look for dis­torted metal (par­tic­u­larly kinks where the chas­sis gets wider on ei­ther side of the sump), cracks, dodgy plat­ing and un­even tyre wear.

How’s the en­gine?

With proper main­te­nance the 2.5-litre straight-six will give 150,000-plus miles. How­ever, check for play in the crank­shaft thrust wash­ers by push­ing and pulling on the bot­tom pul­ley, made eas­ier by de­press­ing and re­leas­ing the clutch. Any de­tectable move­ment means the thrust wash­ers may have dropped out, which could mean the en­gine is scrap. A cher­ished car will have a spin-on oil fil­ter; the orig­i­nal can­is­ter type leads to star­va­tion of the main bear­ings at start-up. Blue smoke un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion points to bore and/or pis­ton wear while blue smoke when the car is started in­di­cates worn valve guides – and the re­quire­ment for a cylin­der over­haul. DIY re­builds are straight­for­ward, with kits priced at £590. All injection sys­tem parts are read­ily avail­able, but the Lu­cas sys­tem isn’t the most re­li­able. Swap­ping the Lu­cas pump for a Bosch item is pop­u­lar, which solves most prob­lems.

Gear­box grum­bles

The four-speed gear­box is strong but the bear­ings grum­ble and it can start jump­ing out of gear af­ter 100,000 miles. The layshaft bear­ings wear too; lis­ten for rum­bling in the in­ter­me­di­ate gears which dis­ap­pears in top. Or when the car is sta­tion­ary with the en­gine run­ning, lis­ten for rum­bling which dis­ap­pears when the clutch is en­gaged. The only op­tion is to fit a re­built gear­box, at £600 ex­change (£1000-£1200 with a re­built over­drive).

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