WHAT TO LOOK FOR

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

EXASPERATING ELECTRICS

Check that every­thing works as duff elec­tric win­dow reg­u­la­tors and glitches with heater fan con­trols and airbag sys­tems are com­mon, and fac­tory im­mo­bilis­ers can play up with the car start­ing and then cut­ting out. Af­ter­mar­ket alarms and im­mo­bilis­ers are com­mon fit­ments so en­sure they work. And be sure to check the heater as a leak­ing ma­trix is a dash­board-out job to re­place.

TRANS­MIS­SION CHECKS

A sen­si­ble owner will have re­placed a VR6’s clutch when the tim­ing chains were re­newed, so look for any sup­port­ing pa­per­work. The au­to­matic trans­mis­sion is more frag­ile and needs reg­u­lar fluid and fil­ter changes; check for lumpy up­shifts as an over­haul isn’t cheap. Bro­ken crown­wheel riv­ets cause cat­a­strophic dif­fer­en­tial fail­ure so be ex­tremely wary of a noisy unit.

ROT WOR­RIES

The MkIII is prone to cor­ro­sion, es­pe­cially around the lower part of the front wings where they meet the sills, the sills them­selves, the door bot­toms and tail­gate, and around the wind­screen. Plas­tic wheel arch mould­ings can hide rot, too and rot can at­tack the sun­roof sur­round. The MkIII’s water-based paint wasn’t all that durable ei­ther, so look for ev­i­dence of a re­spray.

BUSHES AND BRAKES

Check for worn front strut top mounts and rear axle bushes. Brakes can suf­fer from seized rear calipers and ABS prob­lems can be ru­inously ex­pen­sive if a new pump or ECU is needed; spe­cial­ists can over­haul them, but make sure that the warn­ing light comes on and goes out cor­rectly. Check the PAS rack or pump for fluid leaks and lis­ten for dron­ing rear wheel bear­ings.

CHECK THE HIS­TORY

Given the per­for­mance po­ten­tial a thor­ough check of the his­tory for any signs of pre­vi­ous ac­ci­dent dam­age is vi­tal; any hint of rip­ples in the front in­ner wings or boot floor and you should walk away. In­ci­den­tally, look for stan­dard VR6s mas­querad­ing as sought-af­ter High­line mod­els; the real things were only ever painted Black or Mul­berry, so check the V5.

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