Body: The gray powder-coated Tridion cell resists corrosion, but the black-painted ones show signs of it, despite being galvanized. Check the condition of the lacquer on the plastic body panels.
Leaks: On both models, water can enter through the left rear corner of the roof, the top of the A-pillar where three seals meet, the windshield cowl and, more seriously, the bulkhead, where it descends from the cables in the body control module.
Interior: Check that the dashboard lights come on and the air conditioning works (its compressor hoses easily perish.) Make sure the electric hood works and the official tire repair kit is present.
Also to know
The stock 15-inch wheels and tires are the best. Don’t dwell on a Brabus version: they’re more powerful but cost more and come with a lower ride height and bigger wheels. Get a Roadster with the optional paddle shifters, though.
This car is extremely frugal. The base model will give you 55 mpg and the Brabus just 2 mpg less. Insurance starts in Group 10 and the Brabus is in Group 14. The lower spec model is the Light and is slightly cheaper to run, but you’re talking penny rather than pounds.
The Brabus version comes with leather trim and a body kit. This model was launched in 2004, and with the extra upgrade you get a top speed of 119mph – and that’ll get you to 60mph in 9.5 seconds.