What to look for

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying & Selling -

KEEP­ING in TRIM

A di­lap­i­dated cabin can in­di­cate ne­glect else­where, so walk away un­less you are very brave and/or very rich. As a rule of thumb it’s prefer­able to find orig­i­nal ma­te­ri­als in need of a lit­tle TLC than a cheap re-trim, but remember that a ma­jor pro­fes­sional ren­o­va­tion can eas­ily swal­low £8000-10,000. Don’t be sur­prised to find de­funct air-con­di­tion­ing – it’s costly to re­vive and so is of­ten ig­nored – and check that electrics aren’t suf­fer­ing from age-re­lated is­sues. Ca­ble re­place­ment for the later re­mote tail­gate re­lease is a pain, too, so en­sure that it works. And avoid ex­am­ples where orig­i­nal­ity has been com­pro­mised by un­sym­pa­thetic mod­i­fi­ca­tions. Fi­nally, if you’re look­ing at a con­vert­ible, the hood mech­a­nism is a com­plex elec­tro­hy­draulic ar­range­ment that de­mands very ex­pen­sive spe­cial­ist at­ten­tion if it goes wrong, so be wary of any ex­am­ple with hood-re­lated is­sues.

FLaK­ing FLoorS

De­tailed ex­am­i­na­tion of the in­ner and outer sills is cru­cial be­cause cov­ers could be hid­ing hor­rors be­neath, while re­place­ment of the chas­sis side mem­bers alone could re­sult in a £10,000 bill. Bear in mind too that the 4WD FF’s chas­sis tubes aren’t as well-pro­tected as the In­ter­cep­tors and there­fore more prone to rot – proper re­pairs in­volve re­mov­ing the floor­pans! Also scru­ti­nise the cabin and boot floors, along with the box sec­tions around the footwells, and since the off­side outer chas­sis tubes act as a vac­uum reser­voir for the brakes, rot here is a se­ri­ous is­sue. Be­ing hand-built, there’s no such thing as a cheap restora­tion – just re­plac­ing the bon­net can in­volve hours of costly fet­tling. Qual­ity work is vi­tal, so ask for pho­to­graphic ev­i­dence. Poor panel-fit and ill-de­fined crease lines could be signs of filler-laden bodges – many cars have been poorly ‘re­stored’ over the years.

Avoid big bills

Heart-stop­ping restora­tion costs await the rash buyer, so be very care­ful. All pan­els re­quire scru­tiny, es­pe­cially the front and rear in­ner and outer wings, bon­net, tail­gate frame and valances. Bub­bling in the rear whee­larches is bad news as rot can spread deeper, af­fect­ing the tail­gate mount­ings. Crum­bling door and bon­net hinge mount­ings and se­ri­ous cor­ro­sion around the wind­screen cor­ners sig­nal ma­jor trou­ble, and remember to check be­neath a (prob­a­bly por­ous) vinyl roof be­cause rust can bub­ble up un­seen. New roof pan­els are no longer avail­able.

Tak­ing the weight

Var­i­ous sus­pen­sion set­ups were em­ployed over the years, from lever arm dampers on early cars through to later cars’ wish­bones and tele­scopic de­sign. The hefty weight will take its toll, so look for signs of wear in ball-joints and bushes, leaky dampers, and sag­ging springs at the rear. Arm­strong Selec­taride dampers ap­peared early on, but they’re ex­pen­sive and hard to source, so don’t be sur­prised if mod­ern re­place­ments have been fit­ted. We can’t stress strongly enough how im­por­tant it is to take an In­ter­cep­tor for a test drive.

LOOK FOR LEAKS

Oil leaks can af­flict the Torque­flite au­to­matic ‘box but, that aside, reg­u­lar oil and fil­ter re­newal (es­pe­cially on lit­tle-used ex­am­ples) should guar­an­tee longevity; a re­build is around £1500. There’s lit­tle to worry about with the FF’s four-wheel drive hard­ware, but it’s worth en­sur­ing that the rear axle is leak-free and quiet on all cars. The Jensen Own­ers’ Club is a great source of In­ter­cep­tor hor­ror sto­ries, ex­pe­ri­ence and sound ad­vice – that should be your first port of call if you find a car you’re in­ter­ested in. Once you’ve driven it, of course.

HEALTHY STOP­PERS?

Power steer­ing can suf­fer from leak­ing pipework and racks, and re­plac­ing a worn rack is a labour-in­ten­sive task (very early MkIs used a dif­fer­ent rack, mak­ing parts-sourc­ing and over­hauls even trick­ier). Brakes were Dun­lops un­til 1969 when a Gir­ling sys­tem was adopted – nei­ther is es­pe­cially both­er­some. They’ll need to be in tip-top shape con­sid­er­ing the weight and per­for­mance though, so check for a worn or leak­ing mas­ter cylin­der and any cor­ro­sion. The FF’s Dun­lop Maxaret anti-lock sys­tem shouldn’t be feared – it can be sorted.

A TOUGH MOTOR

De­spite their size the V8s are tough and long-last­ing, as­sum­ing dili­gent main­te­nance. Oil leaks, worn tim­ing chains, sludged hy­draulic tap­pets and rum­bling bot­tom ends are the main con­cerns, and you’re look­ing at £5000 for a spe­cial­ist re­build. The cool­ing sys­tem should come in for par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion, so check for grotty com­po­nents and the fit­ment of ad­di­tional fans that could be mask­ing deeper is­sues. You’ll also want to check the state of un­der-bon­net electrics which suf­fer in the high tem­per­a­tures. Last, watch for worn car­bu­ret­tors caus­ing lumpy run­ning (easy to re-build, although ‘six-pack’ SP mod­els might re­quire pro­fes­sional tun­ing) and tick­ing caused by cracked ex­haust man­i­folds.

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