WHAT TO LOOK FOR

It’s a crack­ing car - lit­er­ally

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying Guide -

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

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