WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying Guide -

THE FAB FOUR

Both va­ri­eties of four-cylin­der petrol en­gine – Ford’s Kent and Va­len­cia unit - are easy to look af­ter and fairly durable, but look for signs that they’ve been ser­viced reg­u­larly. Watch out par­tic­u­larly for over­heat­ing, as a furred up cool­ing sys­tem will even­tu­ally lead to head gas­ket fail­ure. Ex­ces­sive ex­haust smoke usu­ally in­di­cates worn valve guides, and tim­ing chains can end up rat­tling on high mileage cars.

IS IT BODGED?

Plenty of Fi­es­tas got pranged by their not-so-care­ful orig­i­nal own­ers so it’s im­por­tant to en­sure that any ac­ci­dent dam­age has been re­paired prop­erly. Look for panel gaps, par­tic­u­larly at the front end, which don’t meet evenly, and check the paint­work for signs of over­spray. It pays to bring a mag­net along to look for filler too.

ROTTEN LUCK

Cor­ro­sion has al­ready fin­ished off plenty of Fi­esta MkIs – and it can strike just about any­where on the body­work. Key places to inspect are the top of the front wings, the sills, the whee­larches and the front valance. Don’t for­get to check the boot floor.

ALL CHANGE

While the four-speed man­ual is a ro­bust unit check for tired syn­chro­mesh on a test drive. If the unit is ex­ces­sively noisy then the chances are the pin­ion shaft bear­ings are on the way out. An ob­struc­tive change of­ten points to worn gear link­ages, but it’s eas­ily reme­died by a spe­cial­ist.

GET UN­DER­NEATH

Look for worn rear ra­dius arm bear­ings at the back and for split drive­shaft gaiters at the front. MoT fail­ure.

DOES IT STOP?

The disc/drum brake set-up isn’t likely to have been par­tic­u­larly taxed on the smaller-en­gined mod­els, but the rear brakes can seize up on Fi­es­tas that haven’t been used very of­ten, so check it pulls away with­out any re­luc­tance and stops with­out any jud­der­ing or ex­ces­sive fade.

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