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Hmm, more investigation is warranted. The head gasket leak that's external that you're seeing is probably from the timing cover coolant jacket. Is this the 3.0 OHV engine or does it say Duratec on it? Can you show us some pictures of the spark plugs? Whitish residue can sometimes be coolant burning. Does the exhaust smell syrupy, especially on cold starts?

Cleaning gelled coolant sounds unfun, Probably best to try and blow pressurized water through the passages to get most of it out.
 

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Definitely needed head gaskets. Nothing really bad but I see some clean spots on the pistons, cracks and corrosion around several water jackets. Spark plugs look pretty clean as well. Do the rear bank when you have the time, you don't want to repeat this twice when the rear is probably just as bad, if not worse. Some of this is evidence of a lean running motor though which makes sense if you had a long term vacuum leak. Definitely get those heads checked for valve leakage while you have them off.

In my experience you won't really get white smoke with these cars, even with pretty bad coolant consumption. I think the three cats cleans it up enough. What you will get however is exhaust that smells like pancake syrup, and rough idle on cold starts.
 
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