1 How’s the engine?
A rattly engine suggests that oil and filter changes have been irregular in the past, leading to valve gear wear. Smoke after start-up indicates hardened valvestem oil seals.
2 the inside story
MB-Tex trim is generally the hardest wearing, so look for rips and scuffs in cloth or leather that could be difficult to remedy. Look, too, for water damage to the footwell and boot carpets.
3 is it rusty?
The floor is normally the worst affected area to be affected by rust on tired examples, so check to see if moisture might have crept in through ageing underseal, and lift the footwell carpets to look for holes or surface rust. Keep a close eye on the state of bulkhead (and remove the underdash panels if necessary), and look for signs of corrosion or bubbling paint around the edges of the chrome trim, which points to problems with the metal behind.
4 how does it drive?
Cars that endure long periods of inactivity are susceptible to sticky brake calipers. A wellmaintained car should brake and steer smoothly, so if there are any knocks or jolts chances are that the dampers or suspension bushes are tired. The steering should feel light but direct – any sloppiness in the wheel through the bends points to a steering box in need of an overhaul.