When i buy an old beater, no matter what brand, i usually don't know the history.
First thing i check out is the cooling system, hoses get checked for age, radiator gets drained, i pull the heater hoses off at the front & make sure the water flows through the heater core, if when i am draining the radiator, there is a lot of crap coming out with the coolant, i either run more water through it, or drive to a radiator shop for their opinion.
If they say that it is borderline, i pull the radiator & take it to them, or if it looks like it is a real hassle, i leave the whole vehicle with them.
I don't mess with running a so so cooling system in the desert.
When i lived in New England, i didn't worry much, lots of water & trees for shade, unlike the Mojave & our other deserts, where people won't stop unless your lying on the road