WHAT TO LOOK FOR
V6 V GOOD
Ford’s Essex V6 was used in the SE5, SE5A, SE6 and SE6A. It’s durable with regular maintenance so you’re really just looking for signs of neglect. Check for oil leaks, excessive exhaust smoke, and evidence of head gasket failure, and ensure the cooling system is up to scratch. And expect oil pressure of at least 40psi when warm – anything less could point to a worn oil pump drive. In 1979, the new SE6B used the German-built Ford ‘Cologne’ 2.8-litre V6, and they can see off more than 150,000 miles easily. Don’t worry about a rough idle – it’s pretty normal. Do worry about blue smoke.
The chassis wasn’t galvanised, so examine the main chassis rails and outriggers, the seat belt mounting points, and around the fuel tank (including the tank itself). The roll-over bar running bolted to the central outriggers is another rust trap. You should also pay attention to the area beneath the radiator and the spare wheel well in the nose.
The glassfibre construction means there’s no panel rust to worry about. Metal strengthening inserts in the SE5 shell can corrode and lead to cracks though. Check for cracks and grazing, concentrating on stress points such as hinges.
Trunnions need greasing every six months to avoid excess wear. Worn bushes can be an issue too and while not difficult to sort it will be labour-intensive. Steering and brakes present few worries other than wear and tear and parts are cheap, but the suspension needs more careful checking. Check the mounting points for corrosion as well.
The Borg Warner 35 automatic added from 1970 should be smoothshifting. The four-speed manual ‘box can suffer from crunchy shifts and jumping out of gear. Overdrive was added from ’71 and improves cruising ability but check it cuts in and out.
Interior condition is an important factor. A full carpet set can cost £264. Ensure minor trim parts are present and correct and check the electrics too as poor earths and aged wiring cause a multitude of niggling problems, although the electric windows in a 5a were always slow. Watch for broken front seat frames and excessive creaks and rattles.