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Discussion Starter #1
I am going to look at a 94 SC 5 speed manual tomorrow with 88,000 miles. The owner has owned it for about 1 year and claims he drove it 5,000 miles. He needs to sell because he is now unemployed and does not need a 2nd vehicle. He says the windows do not work, there is a crack in the coolant tank which leaks and the CEL comes on intermittently with a trouble code of 172. I searched for that code but cold not find anything.

I suspect a manifold issue as the 3.8 is known for that. Aside from these issues, is there anything else I should look for. Are there any "big"' issues for this model? I have a 97 with 4.6 and I am familiar with that model.
 

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Definitely head gaskets are the big issue. Even if they aren't blown now, if they have never been done, you need to figure that they could go at any minute. Also, if they were done, you want to make sure they were done with ARP studs, and if they used MLS gaskets that they had both the heads and the block resurfaced to the right RA for the gaskets.

Even if you find any problems here, that is not necessarily a reason to not buy the car, but just make sure you pay accordingly. SCs are very sensitive to vacuum leaks, so if it is running poorly at all, look for old dry-rotted hoses. If possible, drive the car and make sure all the synchros in the trans are good. The ground effects do a great job of hiding rocker panel rust, so look closely for that. If the seller will let you, the rear pieces are not hard to take off and re-install to make sure the rockers are solid.

Test the seat bolsters to make sure they move, and hold position. Also while there, check to make sure the power seats move freely. Check for a broken odometer! Tell-tale signs of this are the trip odometer reading all zeros or if there is an oil change sticker, look to see if it is due in exactly 3000 miles. Check for broken motor mounts. If the mounts break, it lets the cast aluminum oil pan make contact with the K-member, so look for signs of it having rubbed there, and possible oil leaks due to the pan rubbing through.

Aside from the coolant leak he mentioned, also look at where the thermostat housing bolts to the intake manifold. These are known to warp and leak, and if they do, they are very difficult to get them to seal again. Check the handbrake to make sure it holds the car, releases properly, and is adjusted properly. Check for ARC operation by turning the key on and listening for any clicking, and then start the car and see if the firm ride light is blinking. Beyond that, just the typical MN12 suspension issues to look for, and that should pretty much cover it.

Even if the car needs a lot of work, a 94 5-speed is one of only 722 made, so if you are capable of working on it yourself, it is definitely a cool and fun car to have, but the more you can spot off the bat, the better you will be able to negotiate. If everything checks out, and the car doesn't have any major issues, and no rust, and a clean interior, and good paint, and it really only has 88K miles with a working odometer, with the other minor issues you already listed, figure $3,000-3,500 would be a fair price. Any more than that, I say walk away and keep looking, and then let the price drop from there depending what else you find. Good luck!
 

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Harmonic Balancer, and BHJ is the only viable replacement--Dorman's are junk.

If the ARC is non-operational it may be possible to repair it, I have repaired mine.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for all the items to check. I had heard about the head gasket b4. Will check them out tomorrow. Will a 4.6 or 5.0 swap in place of the 3.8? Just thinking ahead.
 

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Either will physically fit, but a 5.0 would be easier since the bell housing pattern for the trans is the same. With that being said, don't do that to that car. It will be noticably slower unless you do a lot of work to the motor, and by the time you do that, you could have rebuilt/modded the 3.8SC to make more power, while still keeping a rare car intact.
 

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Yeah for ~$4k a SC now can put down 350Hp or more to the wheels, and that will only get you started on a decent v8 swap.
 
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