FIVE WAYS TO MAKE IT BETTER
1 GIVE IT A SERVICE
If you manage to unearth a low-miler that’s been tucked away in a garage by an elderly owner, start with a thorough service. Most consumables are easy to source (the 216 shares its S-series engine with the Maestro/Montego) and a fresh cam belt is a must, too. Parts are cheap, and the work should hold no fears for a competent home mechanic.
The S-series motor is prone to oil leaks, especially from the cam cover and head area, and ageing gaskets are often to blame. If you plan on regular use then it’s worth replacing them; the bits cost just a few pounds from motor factors and it’s a straightforward job. And on the subject of leaks, check the various induction and vacuum hoses and replace any that are perished, damaged or cracked.
3 KEEP IT COOL
Both engines benefit from a healthy cooling system, so if there’s no evidence of a service history then a thorough flush and re-fill with fresh coolant is a good idea. Replacing perished or hardened hoses at the same time is worthwhile, too, especially on cars that have seen minimal use in recent years.
4 SOME NICER TRIMMINGS
It might take some determined searching but a Vanden Plas that’s rusty beyond repair might just yield some parts to upgrade a lowlier model. Leather trim certainly adds a dash of luxury to this compact saloon, and swapping over the seats and door trims should be straightforward.
5 WHEELY GOOD UPGRADE
Alloy wheels appeared on some 200 variants – notably the Vitesse – so they’ll need checking for damage and corrosion. Budget around £65 per corner for refurbishment, assuming they’re not beyond rescue.