Practical Classics (UK)
1 Panels are hard to find these days – especially passenger doors. Either door is prone to rust and it’s better to devise a repair. Sills, rear chassis rails, boot floor and inner front wings all corrode for fun. You can still buy outer sills but look at where the inner sills join to the floor pan.
2 Timing chains on early 127-based OHV engines wear and get noisy. There’s little else to worry about. Rare early 4x4 models had 965cc units, while later models got the aforementioned 1-litre unit.
That superbly robust 999cc FIRE engine arrived in 1986 and is a non-interference unit. Check earth points carefully as the spade connectors deteriorate.
3 A crunching gearbox is normally down to bearing wear. Third gear normally starts to crunch first but don’t panic, as owners will tell you that a gearbox rebuild is still usually a few years away at that point!
4 Suspension is simple on all cars. Leaf springs on the MKI and 4x4 can break but fixes are easy, as everything is delightfully basic. Leaf springs were replaced for the two-wheel drive MKII models. Watch for rust around the spring seat.
5 Look for propshaft joint wear and crusty rubber mountings on 4x4 models. The gearbox is simple and all-mechanical. To engage four-wheel drive, you simply pull a lever. If it fails to disengage, don’t panic. Just drive back and forth and it’ll pop back out of 4x4 mode. It’s a characteristic, rather than a fault.
6 The secondhand parts market will provide most of the cabin parts you need. Instrument pods can be fragile and are hard to find these days.
7 Keep an eye out for special editions – from the canvas roofed ‘Solar’ or lurid ‘Colour’ range to the Italia ’90, with ‘football shaped’ wheel trims. The 4x4 Sisley had an inclinometer, white wheels and metallic paint..