Mercury Cougar Owners banner

1 - 3 of 3 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi there. I'm Raine, contemplating purchasing a local '74 Cougar XR7 as my first car. It's precisely my budget ($1500), and looks a hell of a lot better than the usual Civic/Accord/Sentra/Cressida options one with a cheap budget would usually look into. That said, it has a blown head gasket. I've learned a little about the 351 Cleveland on my own, and have a gearhead friend along to perform a mechanical evaluation, but we're both new to 1970s iron. He had a '73 Riviera for awhile, just long enough to discover everything that went wrong, and an '88 Town car long enough to replace pretty much everything in the starting system. We've both been doing the research on changing head gaskets ourselves.

The question is -- assuming the fluids are alright, minimal oil in the coolant, no coolant in the oil (given 40 psi versus 15 psi) and with any luck bubbling in the radiator minimal -- what else should be checked to make sure this thing won't turn into a money pit? There's already a lot of questions to be asked: how the seller diagnosed the gasket, how much it was driven, any signs of overheating...

Is there any way to tell an engine that's overheated, without tearing it apart?

Beyond the obvious mechanical checks for any used car, and the few extras to spot structural rust, is there anything specific that goes wrong with Cougars to look for signs of?

Thank you very much in advance for your suggestions. I'll be sure to check back and update as I can. Even if I end up walking away because it needs more work than I can afford, I'll post a link to the ad so a better equipped enthusiast might be able to give it a better home. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,552 Posts
The labor of replacing a head gasket is fairly straight forward. Things that will add up are in the heads are warped, and need to go to the machine shop to get milled.
Depending on how much they need milled, can be a deal breaker.
In general, any car made in 1974, regardless of make, can have issues with brakes, radiators, steering system components, pretty much everything that wears out.
If you are only looking for a beater , have the ability, and the time space money, you might consider buying something newer, that has an overdrive transmission, and doing that swap. What you want out of the car will make these decisions for you...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,950 Posts
If you post your location someone nearby may be able to help you out.....
Cars 40+ years ago had a shorter design lifespan than current ones, so bear that in mind. Things you typically look for are major rust/rot issues on the frame/torque boxes/cowl as very common in these cats. Engine wise - look under the oil cap for gooey marshmellow like substance (also on the oil stick) to ensure it's not gettign water in the oil (Should be clean to blackish). Check that the trans fluid is reddish and doesn't smell burnt or look brownish. Be sure radiator fluid has a nice clean greenish look and that it isn't looking plugged up in there with mineral deposits. Look on the insides of the tires to see if it's "wet" from leaky brake cylinders/calipers, feel the brakes for firm/solid pedal, start it up and listen for smoothness and non-ticking sound - also look for smoke out of the exhaust.

Cars in your price range are very likley going to need a good amount of work and cars this old need a good amount of know how to maintain. There are many things to consider. It's likely to become a money pit. A modern car is going to be much easier on your wallet/sanity. These don't drive as nice as newer cars and run as well....dang I love 'em though!! ;>)
 
1 - 3 of 3 Posts
Top