This is a long post. I'll put the essential stuff at the end.
I don't usually post on forums but googling, "how to unmolest my car" was popping up some less than desirable results...
Some background: I just bought a 91 GT. I used to drive my uncles 98 Stang when I was a kid and enjoyed it a lot. I've always been partial to more classic cars but they are mostly out of my price range, and the fox body is sexy. Essentially I wanted to get an older car to fix up and learn my way around. However, some unplanned events happened and I ended up carless and needed to get one asap so I wasn't bumming rides everywhere or walking, etc. I started looking for a newer car, almost put a down payment on a couple, almost bought a Hyundai that I didn't want for a warranty just to be "safe."
I'm not very car savvy. I have changed oil, clutch and just general maintenance stuff on an old Ford Escort I drove, but thats about it. So I knew it would be a gamble, but even if I lose a bit of money, gaining the knowledge to be able to fix my own sh*t is worth it in the long run.
The car is in pretty good shape, interior and exterior are nice, frame isn't bent, and has a clean title. It looks better than it runs in fact, so I can tell someone at least cared for it superficially at one point.
The Car: The story I was told is that it had two owners and was purchased for a daughter as a daily driver. The ad even said it was a Cobra - all original, which I know Ford didn't make in 91. Also, it was kept in the garage and they needed to clear space as she was getting a larger car and no longer used this one as much. He said it had no leaks and that the gas was almost out, and they always got the oil changed at a certain shop. The guy was either lying or he knew less about cars than me (not sure if that's possible?).
To the point: I knew something was off as the car was unnaturally loud (a disgusting kind), also felt like I was kind of missing some power, but in general a pretty smoothish ride. After inspection I noticed a few things that I figured would be simple to fix with some help and research, that even allowed me some bargaining power.
-Exhaust chopped off w/ no muffler present. Looks like just welded and TAPED! exhaust tips to the h-pipe? (the cause of the gross sounds I'm guessing)
-Fuel gauge not working
-Car was not in fact taken to the shop he said. There was a sticker for an oil change date from a different company that even eluded to the fact the car had been sitting much longer than he lead on.
I actually talked him down quite a bit!
So at least to me, all signs point to the car previously belonging to some "butcher" who thought he was a serious racer/mechanic and defiled it a bit. Hopefully for my sake, not too much.
It has been a couple days since I bought it. I have a 30 day but I assume it wont pass smog in its current state (no catalytic converter, I think).
HELP: So pretty much what all this is leading up to is that I need to get some help and opinions. Ideally I would like to put some nice stuff in my car, and I have already been compiling a list of to-do and to-buy. The issue is since I am limited on time and I need to get it running safely hopefully by this weekend, but I have to juggle studying and other crap.
It drives. But...
-Sweet smell after driving (antifreeze?)
-Pretty big oil leak
-Obnoxious noise from lack of muffler (especially in the cabin) and unsafe ventilation of exhaust fumes
-Any unknown issue that I haven't found...
-I don't want a ticket
At this point, my most likely plan of action was to take it to a mechanic and have them get it in running order, then I would do upgrades and maint. from then on. It is not ideal, but I don't see a better option as I need to have my own can't commit the time to learn how to repair it properly at this time. I have some money that I saved by not purchasing a more expensive car, but I'm not rich.
Of course I'd like to get a sweet paint job, sick rims and haul ***. However, I need it to run well first.
What do you guys think?
Where do I start?
Will I end up with crappy parts on my car if I go to a mechanic and don't have my own stuff for him to install?
Anything I did not think of?
I will check back periodically. If you guys need pictures or something, let me know.
Thanks in advance