WHAT TO LOOK FOR
It’s a cracking car - literally
GRP bodywork means no panel rust to worry about, but look for cracks or crazing in the shell and stonechipping around the nose. Door hinges can wear so ensure they don’t drop on opening, and examine the door seals – perished items will allow water in, causing damage to trim and the possibility of corroded seat frames. Ensure that a cheap respray isn’t hiding issues beneath.
Watch for moisture
Pay close attention to the A-pillars and the front bulkhead. Sorting the latter could require engine or dash removal, and serious rot in either of these areas could send a car to the breakers. The boot is prone to water leaks, rotting the floor panel; if the boot lock has failed, preventing access, be very wary indeed. And if you’re tempted by the sporting XJR variant check the condition of the unique body kit as replacement parts are scarce.
How’s the chassis?
The biggest concern is chassis corrosion, despite powder-coating at the factory (quality varied during the ‘90s). Rot normally affects the outriggers, and can be tricky to spot, although they can be repaired for about £2000; that includes removing the body which is required to do the job properly. You’ll pay a similar amount in labour if the chassis needs to be swapped so look for signs of previous patching and welding. Back up top, check the condition of the lift-out roof panel and the folding hood, and look for milkiness around the edges of the windscreen.
It shouldn’t run hot
The catalysed Rover V8s came in various capacities and power outputs, and were tough old beasts. The most likely problems are oil leaks, sludged hydraulic tappets caused by infrequent oil changes, and camshaft wear at 70,000 miles or so for the same reason. The latter costs around £800 to sort. Also, overheating woes will do for the head gaskets, so check that the cooling fan cuts in correctly. Engine bay heat can also affect the electrical ancillaries, so watch for sluggish starting and dashboard warning lights.
Watch out for gearbox woes
Early cars had the Rover LT77 gearbox, and it can prove a little fragile; parts are getting rare, too. The later Borg Warner T5 unit is a far better bet (and can be retro-fitted with a few mods) but make sure it doesn’t jump out of gear. Check for clutch wear, though, and examine the master cylinder for signs of leakage. The rear axle is usually long-lasting, but whines or clunks signal an imminent re-build which costs in the region of £800 at a specialist. Parts for both GKN and later BTR items are available, though.
Is it on the pull?
A slight pull to the left is normal but suspension misalignment and worn bushes can be issues. And check the condition of