WHAT TO LOOK FOR

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

ALL THE GEAR

A four-speed man­ual gear­box is the norm, but some post-1967 cars have an AP four-speed au­to­matic, which is usu­ally re­li­able. The fun­da­men­tal prob­lem with both is that they share their oil with the en­gine, so an auto’s oil should be changed ev­ery 3000 miles, or 6000 miles on a man­ual. The first thing to go on a man­ual gear­box will be the syn­chro­mesh cones, al­though these should still last 100,000 miles be­fore giv­ing any trou­ble. Click­ing noises on full lock means new CV joints are needed; about £35 per side for the parts.

IN­SIDE JOB

Check the com­plete lower half of the car. Fo­cus on the sills, front and rear whee­larches, front wings (es­pe­cially the head­lamps and seams where it joins the valance) and front valance. Lift the bon­net and anal­yse the in­ner wings; the front sub­frame is bolted to these so strength is cru­cial. To strengthen each in­ner wing there’s a con­i­cal-shaped box sec­tion welded to its un­der­side; make sure it’s OK by re­mov­ing the front wheel and peer­ing in­side the whee­larch.

BUMP AND GRIND

While test-driv­ing a car on a bumpy road, lis­ten for grind­ing noises from the rear sus­pen­sion. This sig­ni­fies that the ra­dius arm bear­ings need re­plac­ing; they cost £45 per side and a spe­cial puller is needed. If they’re worn out, the top of the wheel will point in­wards by half an inch or so; the rear wheels should be up­right when viewed from be­hind.

KEEP IN TRIM

In­te­rior and ex­te­rior trim is scarce for all ver­sions. It all wears very well, but re­pair­ing dam­age is tricky and po­ten­tially ex­pen­sive. The out­side stain­less steel and chrome bright­work is hard to source. There’s lit­tle cross­over be­tween the var­i­ous mod­els’ switchgear and in­stru­ments, with some parts now very hard to find. Rocker switches tend to break in­ter­nally.

DOWN THE DRAIN

The front bulk­head rots out and re­pairs are in­volved. Check for wa­ter­logged front footwells due to this or failed quar­terlight/win­dow seals. A rot­ten heel­board means a failed MoT; this is the ver­ti­cal panel that joins the rear footwells to the floor­pan un­der the rear seat. The rear sub­frame is mounted to the heel­board and must be re­moved to ef­fect proper re­pairs. The sub­frame it­self rots but re­plac­ing one isn’t dif­fi­cult.

PER­ISH­ABLE GOODS

The front sub­frame rub­ber mount­ings per­ish, so scru­ti­nise all six. There are two at the front, two at the back and a pair at the top of the sus­pen­sion tur­rets; the lat­ter rarely fail. They can eas­ily be re­placed in situ; a set of six re­pro items costs £90. The boot fills up with wa­ter, dis­solv­ing the floor, so lift the boot board to get a good look; proper re­pairs mean re­mov­ing the sub­frame and per­haps the fuel tank. On es­tates check for rot along the top and bot­tom edges of the rear win­dow; used tail­gates are rarer than snake feath­ers.

HY­DRO­LAS­TIC FAN­TAS­TIC

En­sure that a car sits level from side to side and front to rear. The dis­plac­ers that con­trol the sys­tem are con­nected front to rear, so there are two in­de­pen­dent sys­tems, one on each side, un­der 200psi of pres­sure. The most com­mon prob­lems stem from rusty hy­draulic pipes or failed hoses. The dis­plac­ers are sealed for life but the in­ter­nals rarely fail. A dis­placer with low fluid can be recharged. The two steel Hy­dro­las­tic pipes that run the length of the car can cor­rode, with one fit­ted along each side be­neath the floor­pan.

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