WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying Guide -

SIX-CYLIN­DER EN­GINES: TOUGH WORK­HORSES

Six-cylin­der power units are tough, and will cover huge mileages, if prop­erly main­tained. It’s cru­cial to en­sure that the tim­ing chain ten­sion­ers have been re­placed at 60,000 miles, if only to pre­serve the life of the chains. If this doesn’t oc­cur, the tim­ing chains them­selves can fail at mileages as low as 100,000-120,000. All power units are sen­si­tive to timely oil changes – 12,000 is stretch­ing it – and any rough run­ning in fuel in­jected mod­els will be down to fail­ing air tem­per­a­ture or crank po­si­tion sen­sors. Oth­er­wise, th­ese cars are good for 300,000 miles.

FOUR-CYLIN­DER EN­GINES: SIM­PLEST FOR DIY

‘Fam­ily II’ en­gines have cam­belts, and for safety’s sake, make sure that they’ve been re­placed within the past 40,000 miles or five years – any fur­ther or longer, and you’re risk­ing trou­ble if you don’t get it changed. Ser­vic­ing is eas­ily within DIY ca­pa­bil­ity, as th­ese cars were de­signed for sim­ple main­te­nance. This in­cludes cam­belt changes. Oil breathers of four-cylin­der en­gines are known for get­ting blocked, and rat­tly topend or noisy valve gear points to missed oil changes or gen­eral ne­glect – in which case, it’s usu­ally best to walk away.

ELECTRICS: MOSTLY GOOD

Un­less you’re un­lucky and go for an early 1.8-litre en­try-level model, th­ese cars are packed with equip­ment. But do en­sure that elec­tric win­dows, the sun­roof and cen­tral lock­ing work as they should. Most is­sues are down to dodgy switches or dry joints. And does the ABS work? Don’t just rely on the in­di­ca­tor light, as it can – and of­ten is – rigged. Other ran­dom is­sues, such as poor idling, flat spots or poor fuel con­sump­tion, can be down to the ECU con­nec­tor de­vel­op­ing dry joints that al­low mois­ture in. All are eas­ily re­solved with time and pa­tience.

THE BODY (NOT SO) BEAU­TI­FUL

Rust is gen­er­ally ev­i­dent on th­ese cars, so check for ob­vi­ous signs at the rear of the in­ner sills, the strut tops, and most ob­vi­ously at the rear arches. All are fid­dly and time­con­sum­ing to re­pair in a sat­is­fac­tory way. Rust also claims brake and fuel lines, so if you can, check that th­ese are good.

PARTS SIT­U­A­TION

Body pan­els and in­te­rior parts are get­ting scarce now, so make sure it’s all in one piece. Don’t laugh off miss­ing trim – it can be a night­mare to re­place like for like.

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