Like most Italian supercars of the 1970s, the Merak’s bodywork is prone to rust. Look especially at the underside of the rear frame by the engine on either side of the fuel tanks, the front suspension mountings where they join the inner wings, the door bottoms where the rain plugs may have silted up, around the windscreen aperture, and the sills, which have a cover riveted and screwed on.
Panels are not available, so they have to be made and are expensive. For example, door skin supplied and fitted: approx £550. Windscreen: £500. Interior trim and chrome parts available but expensive.
Engine: always check for reasonable oil pressure with the engine hot and idling. Low pressure means a bottom-end rebuild — perhaps £4,000. The oil light will warn of real problems, but electric gauges are not always efficient; the only way of being sure is with a mechanical oil gauge. Rev the engine from 3000-4000 rpm and check for smoke from the exhaust pipes. Blue smoke means bore or valve-guide wear, indicating a £3000 cylinder head overhaul. Replacement clutch: 24 hours labour plus clutch kit, total £1,000 plus VAT.
Usually good and reliable; however second gear syncromesh often needs adjustment.
Wheel bearings and ball-joints are all sealed units with no greasing required; however the rear wheel bearings are prone to wear. They take 12 hours labour to replace using specialist tools, which could cost £400 plus parts.
Usually reliable if properly maintained — unless got at by an inexperienced person.
Very important, as the Merak uses the Citroen system with an engine-driven pump powering the brakes, clutch and headlamp system. Any leaks mean no brakes. A good test is to switch the engine off and then raise and lower the headlamp pods several times. The reservoir should manage this six times; if it’s only three, look for a leak.
Routine service: oil change, new filter, spark plugs, check timing chains, valve clearance, suspension and brakes; price approx £300 plus parts.
Major service: overhaul and re-tune carbs, change engine and gearbox oil, change hydraulic fluid, check suspension, brakes, timing chains, spark plugs, oil filter etc; up to £1,000.