Cambelts need a precautionary change every 21,000 miles or two years, whichever comes first. That’s usually a £600 job. Belt failures are very rare, but very expensive.
The most common area of neglect is the cooling system. The two long pipes running down the centre tunnel from radiator to engine can become sludged up, and lose as much as 75 per cent of their diameter. As a result, not much water gets to the radiator, even if hoses are new at both ends.
It is vital not to cook the engine as the alloy heads can warp and two-valve heads are nowadays hard to find.
Clutches last very well and are simply and easily replaced, usually a four-hour job costing £500. Early cars had quite a heavy clutch action. It is possible to adapt a later Quattrovalvole ‘light’ clutch to fit, for about £250 extra.
Second gear is notoriously difficult to select from a cold start, but if you ease the lever into position, rather than force it, it should engage. In the summer you only need to drive four-five miles and the stiffness eases.
However, if a warm gearbox still baulks or fails to synchronise, expect bills in excess of £2500.
Silencers usually last forever, but it is not unknown for manifold flanges to crack on earlier cars.
Electrics are not as suspect as popular rumour suggests, but electric windows are notoriously troublesome. The only cure is to buy new motors and channels for the glass.
Zincrox, a form of galvanised steel, did not appear until 1984, so early cars do suffer rust problems in the usual places, notably sills, door bottoms and at the rear corners where the upper and lower body sections meet. Water also gathers just behind front wheel arch. Rust on top of the front fenders is expensive, because there are no detachable panels. A whole one-piece section has to be replaced.