WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
Even the youngest mk1 is 22 years old now and as a consequence there are numerous things you need to be aware of.
Most of the serious issues can be clumped under a single catch-all heading – rust. Early cars, including the Eunos imports, seem to fare a little bit better than the later mk1s, but none are immune to the red peril. Start by opening the bonnet and having a general look around. If the engine bay is tatty with corrosion on the fasteners and steel brackets, then road salt has probably attacked the rest of the car, too.
The worst rust-affected areas are the rear wheelarches and sills. Look closely at the outer wheelarch lip and down low in front of the back wheel where the wing overlaps the sill – a solid or well repaired car will have spot welds clearly visible on the wheelarch return, right down to the bottom, and further foward along the sill you should be able to see a vertical seam where the rear wing ends. If there’s no seam, it can be a sign of a poor repair or filler.
In the past many garages just roughly patched holes in the sills, but to do the job properly will likely involve a half rear wing section, extensive cutting and replacing of the inner and outer sills, and sections of the wheelarch, too. In other words, it’s going to be costly.
The front wings generally aren’t so bad but can suffer from rust. Underneath, suspension subframes and wishbones may look crusty but can sometimes be spruced up with a wire brush and a spray of rust killer/proofer.
Both the 1.6 and 1.8 engines are strong, but can be ravenous consumers of oil – if there’s no blue smoke in the exhaust and the level on the dipstick is sensible, you should be OK. Blocked radiators and coolant leaks can cause head gasket failure, but it’s rare. A misfire under load is usually just the plugs and leads, though occasionally the ignition coil is to blame, and it’s a costly item. Binding brakes are common, dampers can be weak at high mileages, and rusty springs are prone to breakage.