1 SPOT THE ROT The front panel around the headlights, the bodywork surrounding the windscreen and the battery tray are all susceptible to corrosion. It’s tricky to find parts for the the rare tailgate, so beware rust here too. 2 LOOK FOR LEAKS
It’s acceptable for the engine to leak a little oil – normally from the sump and around the rocker cover gasket – but no more than that. Look too for signs of oily exhaust smoke at start-up and listen for worn timing chains. Generally the 500’s engine is tough and can withstand regular use, but check through the service history for evidence that it’s been looked after properly. 3 WHEN TO STEER CLEAR Don’t skimp on the test-drive. The steering should feel light and responsive – if it’s stiff, it has probably been overtightened to cure play; and if it’s vague or there are signs of uneven tyre wear, there’s a good chance that the worm-and-sector steering box is starting to wear out. 4 GREASE IS THE WORD It’s important to ask the seller when the front kingpins were last greased – they need lubricating every 1500 miles or so and will seize up if they’re neglected. Check the suspension for signs of wear too – bulges in the leaves at the front end suggest that corrosion has set in.