An expert’s view
Julian ‘Jules’ Anderson, JMA Cars: “I’ve always been into British cars and was buying and selling them when Rover went bust. The values of 75s and ZTs halved overnight so I bought a load and did very well. Gradually, supplies dried up so I started servicing customers’ cars, specialising in the 75 and ZT. There are a handful of problems common to all of them and I have developed special fixes that are very popular. My daily drives and loan cars are a ZT diesel and a ZT 190. For myself, I have a ZT 190 that’s done 10k miles and never been driven in the rain and a 75 that’s done only 5k miles.”
Engine: On the 1.8 petrol, look for head gasket leaks. If a diesel won’t start, tap the fuel pump to free it up. The 1.8 petrol timing belt should be changed at 60,000 miles. The V6 requires three belts every six years/90k miles at around £700. On all engines, make sure the plenum chamber is draining water. Have the diagnostics checked – the OBD port is near the accelerator pedal – with a dedicated ‘T4’ reader.
Cooling system: On the V6, check the plastic thermostat housing for leaks. On all versions, ensure the engine cooling fan comes on when you activate demist.
Transmission: The V8’s Tremec manual is tough but feels agricultural. Check its rear diff has been fed the correct oil. The Jatco JF506E five-speed auto ’box can suffer reverse piston failure and solenoid problems, causing harsh changes. Both can be fixed with the gearbox in situ. A clutch is £700 but lots more if the dual-mass flywheel needs replacing.
Suspension and brakes: Lower wishbone front bushes, broken springs and corroded brake pipes are common MOT failures.
Body: This was protected with a form of galvanising that has proved durable but check the sills and jacking points.
Interior: Sunroof leaks and blocked drain holes cause soggy carpets and a damp boot. Perished rear light gaskets let in water. Vinyl driver’s bolsters collapse.
Also worth knowing
If you need a part for your ZT, there are at least two well-stocked suppliers. XPart was born out of MG Rover and Rimmer Bros was founded in 1982 by two brothers passionate about British cars. Both can supply original and pattern parts but Rimmer goes further with genuine workshop diagrams showing what goes where.
How much to spend
£250-£999: Mainly ratty 2.0 135 CDTi diesels up to 150,000 miles. £1000-£1995 More diesels but also 1.8s and V6s with reasonable mileages and some history.