Aero 8 - Series 1 Buyers Guide
Dates of Build Sept 1999 - 2004
Chassis No.'s 1-250 ish
The Front splitters on Aero's catch a lot of stones, this tends to leave them with the odd stone chip here and there. Some Aero's had Defend-All or Armour-guard from the Factory but other original owners chose to go without preferring to re-paint when required. This panel can be removed and painted separately but you'll probably be looking at £1k for a decent job.
Also careless drivers do not judge the 'lost horizon bonnet' and end up putting dents in the fore-most part of the wings.. they tend to be small up-to about tennis ball size. Check this carefully, whilst these can be hand-worked out by skilled panel-beaters a lot of bodyshops will say it's a new splitter.
Finally, check the paint around the indicators, this was a prone area for aluminium oxidation under the paint, which will cause the paint to lift. This is not insurmountable but again needs a re-paint to sort out. Possibly roll up when you sort out the paint chips.
The intake mesh on the S1's was sometimes fitted under stress therefore over time the bonded brackets can come loose (although there are about 8) and the front mesh comes loose in areas.
The Front Cowl uses a rubber edging strip to buffer it from the Wings (as these are regularly removed components for servicing) Unfortunately these were often only 'taped' to the inside of the cowl relying on friction to hold them on. You may find on Aero's that the rubber is not fully against the cowl edge, this can easily be fixed however until resolved High Speed may cause the rubber to come loose and start flapping against the wings with some force or possibly become completely dislodged and 'fall-off' resulting in the cowl directly making contact with the wing which can damage the paint.
Expect to find the screws under the bonnet that holds the top of the cowl on to have flaking paint directly around them. The Cowl is regularly removed and can result in disturbance of the paint..
The wings are held on by interference fit grommets running along the lower edge of the wing. Check they are all present and actually attached to the Chassis, sometimes they are not!
Also you can spot front end body work issues by checking out the lower lip of the wing, where your ankles are when you stand at the side of the car next to the bonnet. If the car has had front end paint this is often a place to find the masking line. Check with your finger-nail.
The bonnet may also 'rub' on the wing and cause paint to be removed near the cowl end.
The bonnet on the OS runs very very close to the oxygen sensor. Interference from the wing is a common reason for sensors to go down.
Aero doors are often miss-aligned. The doors on the Mk1 are built from 2 major sections. The lower door and the window frame. Unfortunately these are not always stable in relation to each other and can result in the top of the window frame pulling away from the 'A' pillar. This is easily fixed but often miss-adjustment of the lower door can result in the front of the door fouling the lower 'A' pillar section and eventually rubbing through the paint.
The side-door glass is VERY EASY to break. The windows are a laminate of non-safety glass with a heating wire in between, try looking through them in the light and you'll see the filaments. Unfortunately this makes them particularly weak and slamming the door or shutting firmly (Especially with the window part open - Not fully up or fully down) can easily result in a cracked side pane. These are £600 each!! Assuming you can find one. Many have been swapped for non heated versions and can occasionally be odd side to side.
Check the bonnet catches, rarely some do not engage correctly which can result in the bonnet flying up at >100mph speeds. You can check them by pulling the nob firmly in the closed position, if they spring free then they need looking at as they are not engaging correctly.
The front head-lights are VW Beetle lights and due to the mounting of the light housing can 'jar' the lense against the wing. This results in the lense being pulled off the housing letting in water usually from the bottom of the lense area. You can easily spot it by misted lenses and a visible split in the rubber on the inside of the lense. Do not just replace the light housing.. if the cause is not fixed it will only happen again. Lights are ~£100 ish
Also there may be paint bubbling around the head-lights. A place to look
The front indicator wires are just inside the wheel-arch and quite exposed and can on occasion become loose, if the indicator does not work on the front this would be the first area to check out.
Rear light lenses can become hard to remove due to mild steel bolts used to hold them in place. Replace these for SS versions to ensure that n-months (years) down the road you changing the bulb does not require the removal of the boot liner.
OEM tyres were Pirelli P-Zero Rosso which are pretty poor on the Aero. Most owners swap to something more grippy when the time comes. Toyo T1R, Avon or Yokohama A048 (for those looking for ultimate dry traction or track days). There is some suggestion that rears can be up-rated to 255/35/18 to get that extra grip.
Aero wheels are Magnesium Alloy, the logos are lacquered into the surface, therefore any wheel damage can be: A- hard to resolve (not all wheel companies will work on them) B- mean that the logs need to be totally or in part removed (which everyone can spot). Ideally these should not be damaged at all. For perfectionists new wheels are available again from the factory (although this is a finite supply as they are no-longer manufactured) and are £600 + VAT each!
Early Aero Mk1's were shipped without a Centre Lock retaining grub-screw. These had a habit of coming loose and were on recall from the factory. Check all four of the wheel-nuts has the grub screw in place, if not contact the factory or closest dealer for replacements with the grub-screw, Also a notch needs to be cut into the centre pin to securely locate the grub. This should be FOC as it's a safety issue with the original design.
The initial cars had a mechanical hydraulic power steering pump, this was a little under-powered and this can be identified by a 'Shudder' when turning the steering stationary or when the car's not warmed up. This is normal and not a sign of immanent failure. These power steering units can last for the life of the car, however some have been known to fail (which is not catastrophic, the car can still be driven to a garage without power steering).
The driveline of the S1 Aero's is basically a racing set-up. There are no bushes or rubber mountings, clutch uptake smoothness is entirely down to the drivers ability. Ultimately this means new Aero drivers tend to jerk the car away from stationary experiencing 'drive-line-shunt' as the slack in the driveline causes the car to 'bounce' on the play.
The starter motors on the S1 were prone to 'sticking' which is a symptom of poor joints. Unfortunately this is compounded by the original Starter fuse being too small, quick 'official' fix is initially to fit a larger fuse however may eventually require the starter to be replaced or at the very least cleaned up. This can be tested by hitting the starter letting the car stand. Especially if the car has not been moved, say on a forecourt, for some time. When you hit the starter button all you get is a 'click' but the engine does not turn over. This is not an overnight issue and if you end up with a car where this is the case then take it back to the dealer for resolution as it was likely to be present before you purchased.
Aero's are sensitive to colour choices Metallic Silvers, blues, blacks and Pearl colours tend to flatter the most. Solid colours do not do favours and two tones need to be selected well to ensure future on-sell-ability
Interiors can easily look shabby if not maintained. Drivers seat bolster door-side can wear quickly. The seats and overall interior has a tendency to suit more svelte drivers with larger drivers finding the later models more accommodating.
The Radio is under the dash.. remote control radios tend to be most popular. Additionally Ipod integrated units are the best choice as there is nowhere to put CDs
Don't let anybody tell you that you cant get luggage in an S1 Aero. Antler do a range of light-weight suitors, 1 will fit on end down the back of each of the seats, two duffle bags will fit on the back shelf and finally two Sparco Helmet bags fit ideally in the boot with just enough room for shoes and coats before the lid won't shut any more, trust me, that's A LOT of luggage.
The seat runners on the early cars were mild steel and can contain 'play' in the mechanism where the runner-stops were regularly hit or the seat used to leaver individuals in and out all the time. This can be fixed but requires the seat to be taken out.
The Boot has a locking mechanism which can become in-operable (you can't get in the boot) there are several reasons for this:
1) The retaining nut on the end of the boot lock spindle comes loose, introducing play therefore not actuating the latch.
2) The Cam on the end of the spindle is miss-aligned to the actuating arm of the latch therefore the boot does not come open.
Finally the 'floppy latch' syndrome is a symptom of the spring either snapping of more likely becoming dislodged from the spindle.
Check the rear latch action and repeat several times, opening and shutting the boot each time. Also inspect the latch mechanism, if possible, it will need to remove 6 screws for this.
Inspect the underside for groves or scratches.. these cars are LOW and damage to the underside can be indicators of an 'off'
There is a plastic scoop for the gearbox, this is often cracked, broken or snapped off. Check this is present. Replacement can be attached but this needs to be factored into the purchase price.
Aero Mk1 batteries are small gel batteries, if not conditioned these will go flat and will need to be replaced if the vehicle is to be used. These are expensive and not always readily available. It's best to have a conditioner installed
The Series 1 Aero had several different roofs fitted to it.. although there were may minor revision they fall into one of 3 camps.
Early Wooden Plinth style - Gives a lower gangster roof line but takes longer to put up and stow when down. Ideally needs upgrade tabs to hold securely rolled up when lowered. It does give the cleanest roof both up and down position. Can leak depending on the car.
Mid-issue-wooden Plinth style - This is same as the one above but has window channels to secure the window to the roof.. this is better than above as the roof becomes water-tight against the door top.
Mk2 roof - This is an easy-up roof which can be erected whilst at the traffic lights. it sits pram-style on when down (which is obviously taller than the one's above) the foam rubbers that seal the sides can split and break off where the roof hinges and the plastic tabs in the fabric that hold the removable rivet can snap causing minor aero-dynamic issues (minor really and fixable). Also not always water-tight.
All Mk1 roofs have a glass rear screen and the electrical tabs can become detached due to poor connectors. (easy to re-attach and secure by pinching up the interference fit spade connector).
Mk1 Aero's don't have a glove-box as such more a shelf. In the early cars these can be a bit floppy so cannot take much weight. There should always be a Mulberry bag which was designed to fit perfectly. If this is not present then try to get one from the dealer. Quite often these are overlooked by previous owners or dealers. These were standard equipment and came with the car.
Sports Exhausts - Librands is the preferred choice - Twin pipes each side, rear exit.
Quick Shift - reduces the length of the gear knob and should be accompanied with the removal of the overly tall BMW gear-knob
Mota-Lita Steering wheel - Optionally trimmed with matching interior leather
Steering Column - Again trimmed in matching leather
Upgraded front Brakes - rare but available
Upgraded exhaust manifolds - rare but available
Engine Re-map - Popular - results in 330bhp up from 289bhp stock
Intake up-grade - this is inside the wing so it'll be hard to check but easy and common upgrade
Roof clips - hold the S1 early roof securely for high-speed cruising
5.0 upgrade - Stroker kit to get up-to 400bhp from the OEM engine - Very Very rare but still available.
Wheel Lock Nut
Spare Run-flat sensor - Often removed