Hemi Horror Story

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The other day, I ran into a guy I know who owns a late model Dodge Ram pick-up with the 5.7 Hemi V8. The truck has just over 100k on the clock. Guy tells me he was pulling out onto the main road, glanced in the rearview and noticed a car coming up behind him fast, so he hit the gas … so the other guy wouldn’t need to hit the brakes.clunker lead

And blew his engine.

The Hemi suffered a catastrophic failure of Broken Connecting Rod magnitude. He will need a new engine.

Apparently, this sort of thing is not uncommon (see here and here) with Hemi V8s, particularly those made circa early-mid 2000s. Valvetrain-oiling-related issues, supposedly since corrected on the line. Something to do with the cylinder deactivation (Multi-Displacement/MDS) system, or the variable valve timing system (which uses engine oil) or the lifters… something like that.

But this won’t help my friend, because his truck is no longer covered by the warranty.

The guy is not a hot rodder. Doesn’t abuse his vehicles. Maintains them regularly, by the book. But now he’s looking at a heavyweight repair bill.

Or else a useless truck.

This is an example of a vehicular Black Swan event. In general, modern cars (and trucks) can be counted on for 200,000 miles or more of reliable operation before expensive failures occur or obvious tiredness manifests.

But, stuff does happen.

Even if you don’t beat on the thing. Even though you’ve always changed the oil on schedule.

Sometimes, it happens when the vehicle is not old – but the warranty’s expired. As here. To say this sucks is an understatement on par with saying the Titanic suffered some damage when it hit the iceberg.

Probably, the dealer – and the manufacturer – will deny responsibility. If they don’t have to pay, they generally won’t pay.

But not necessarily.

You’ve heard of the squeaky wheel and grease?

It works, sometimes.

Here’s what I told the guy:

First, stay calm – and rational. It is easy to let loose and vent. Do that in the backyard; maybe shoot an old lawn mower. Then go to the dealer’s.

Have a conversation. Not a shouting match. Explain that you really like your vehicle but are very disappointed; that you hope a fair resolution is possible. Will they help? Advocate for you? They just might – and it beats cold-calling the Customer Satisfaction Line number in your owner’s manual (though you should do this, too). The dealer might be willing to toss in free labor if the manufacturer (e.g., FiatChrysler, in this case) agrees to pay for the parts. The dealer wants to keep you as a customer, after all.

That is his incentive.lemon pic

And the manufacturer might ante up the parts – regardless of warranty considerations – if they know that the failure at issue was not due to abuse/anything you did but probably (though they won’t admit this openly) the result of something they did (crappy, not-well-designed parts; a manufacturing problem, etc.).

They might even pay for the whole fix, including labor.

Not because they are Good Guys (though it is possible) but chiefly because they do not (if they are smart) want the word to spread. Which means, not pissing you off to the point that you go on the warpath and start writing letters to NHTSA (see here) shopping for a lawyer or (much worse, these days, in terms of bean spilling) begin posting about your woes online.

God bless the Internet.

Sometimes.angry dude!

Angry owner bulletin boards and video rants gone viral can do more  to get you satisfaction than a class action lawsuit. It can put the motivating fear of a metastasizing public scandal/PR debacle into the minds of the appropriate brain within the corporate hive. If they are smart, they’d much rather slip you a new (and no charge) engine to replace the one that spat parts all over the road and hope you smile, shut up – and go away- than have to publicly admit a general problem and be out of pocket potentially millions of dollars.

This is your leverage and if you’re smart, you’ll use it.

If the dealer won’t do anything, don’t stomp away angrily. Just tell them you’ll be contacting the manufacturer to express your disappointment with the vehicle … and the dealership’s unwillingness to work with you.

Then walk away.complaint button

Then call the Customer Satisfaction number (again, it should be in your owner’s manual; if not, just do a search for the manufacturer’s web site; for example, www.chrysler.com). Then write a certified letter to the manufacturer,detailing the problem, conveying your angst. Talking up “safety” helps; use language such as “I no longer feel safe driving this vehicle”… “my wife won’t drive it,” etc.

You may also have recourse under state lemon laws (see here).

If none of the above results in any action, then it’s time for the Internet. And YouTube. If the problem you’ve got is a general problem, a quick search online will suss out other victims. Join the Forums dedicated to exposing the defect and post your tale. Be factual and specific. Post pics/videos of the broken parts if you can.

Send the manufacturer links to what you’ve posted.

You may not get satisfaction, in terms of them stepping up and making things right. But at the least, you’ll have helped spread the word – and by doing so perhaps helped others avoid what just happened to you.

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49 COMMENTS

  1. Hey All,

    Just wondering when the Hemi stopped being hemispherical?

    Was it due exclusively to mandate?

    When I was younger, I was told the Hemi head was an advance over flat heads simply because it allowed for bigger valves in the same diameter area as the cylinder.

    • Hi T,

      Mopar people will correct me on this if I’m off, but IIRC the original hemi-head 426 was last offered in 1971. The first such engine came out in ’51 and was used in the letter series cars. The current Chrysler 5.7 (and other variants) is also a “hemi” engine, but it’s a totally different design vs. the ’71 and earlier and no parts interchange.

  2. Had a 2000 RAM 1500 Sport. There was no end to the problems of corrosion. I replaced U-joints, rack and pinion parts, a joint in the steering column, and I can’t remember what else. The doors rusted out and a body shop told me they did pretty good business replacing rusted out Ram doors because of a design flaw. I pulled a 12-foot U-Haul trailer from Wisconsin to Washington and burned out the torque converter. The shop that replace it told me they also did pretty good business replacing those because Dodge 1500 transmissions were crap. I realize that was 16 model years ago, but still I’ll never trust another Dodge product.

  3. I won’t buy Ford products any more. Not because of the products mind you but rather due to Ford Corporation’s attitude regarding Customer Service. All cars/trucks have issues that’s a fact. They are built by humans and therefore shit happens. What sticks in my mind is how the maker of the product backs their product. Especially when the issue is a one directly caused by poor design. Such as mating plastic intakes to metal heads.

    Please note this comes from someone that use to exclusively purchase Ford products. At one time, I worked for FMC out of their N.O., La zone office back in the 70s.

    The modern Ford Motor Company fails miserably at Customer Service. So as a result of Ford’s customer service, I will no longer buy any of their products nor will I recommend their products to any other person.

    David Ward
    Memphis, Tennessee

    • The intake manifold issue was due to the plastic coolant crossover cracking. Nothing to do with it mating to the heads. The joint is gasketed.

      • Brent,

        The issue I had with the Y2K 4.0L Explorer was a massive vacuum leak caused by a poor design mating the intake with the v6 heads. Ford even published an FCB and supplied new parts to correct the issue. This issue only manifested itself when the weather was cold. It never happened when the weather was warm or the engine was at operating temp. This failure occurred at 42k miles of a 75k power train warranty. But due to Ford Stealership Service Writers being told to milk customers for all they have, never tell the customer about FCBs issued by Ford. Therefore, since I wasn’t aware of the FCB being published for the issue I was having, the SW pushed sensors WHICH were not covered by the PT warranty. After replacing one sensor to the tune of 375 bucks and that did not resolve the issue, I resigned myself to saving up enough cash to replace all sensors that could possibly be causing the issue I was experiencing.

        When I was finally able to do pay for non covered repairs to the truck was 3k miles out of the PT warranty. Lewis Ford did the first repair but they went out of business. The truck went to a different dealer. Of course, the SW started with the sensor that was already replaced. I told him that and he pulled up the service record and the earlier report with the sensor replacement was listed. I asked for a proper diagnosis be performed. That is when they found the intake issue. But Ford Customer Service for warranty coverage comes back refusing to cover an issue that occurred and was documented while the truck was under warranty. So long story short 544 bucks for the repair. It did resolve the issue with the Explorer. But it didn’t resolve the issue with Ford Customer Service. Basically they pissed me off over their refusal to cover a repair that should been resolved when it was under warranty. So, they lost a long time customer over a pissy ass 544 dollar repair.

        David Ward
        Guitarman6052@GMX.com

        • When the first crossover cracked on my ’97 Mustang the dealership called me and tried to tell me it was the gaskets and not covered by warranty. I told them to look at the 3 inch crack in the cross over and that right in front of me I had the letter from ford that it was covered. Suddenly they found the obvious crack behind the alternator exactly where the letter said it happened. It is my feelings that they wanted to charge me for the gaskets while submitting the warranty to ford.

          It’s amazing what some servicing dealers of any product will do to get warranty money and customer money at the same time. (something I’ve learned in my career as well as a customer)

          Many or Most people hired to do the work these days are either morons when it comes to diagnostics or will throw parts at it because the dealerships have the way they pay mechanics such that it means diagnostic time comes out their wallet. The system is broken from top to bottom. That said I think the stealership you were dealing with was stupid more than criminal. They should have fixed the manifold under warranty to ford (without telling you) and billing you for the sensor work if they were actually running a scam and knew about the issue. Then again perhaps the service writer thought he could milk out more work later.

          The manufacturer’s customer service is in a bind based on how they will be rewarded and the fact they are really blind to the issue. With what the first stealership put on your paperwork it’s just a judgment call for them and they are going to know less about how the car works than the service writers at the dealership. I’m explaining not defending them as I’ve been annoyed by this from both ends, from a manufacturer’s (not auto, but it’s the same basic thing regardless of the product) perspective and as a customer. At least where I work I can work directly with the service folks and send out prototypes that fix customer issues and by-pass a lot of that nonsense.

          • Brent,

            Normally, I would agree. However, the issue with the vehicle started while the warranty was in effect. Here is how I look at it.

            You bring a PC to a repair center that is 9 months into an extended warranty that is now having an issue. You describe the issue to the Service Writer. He says, “Oh i know what is causing that!”. So he opens a ticket for your PC and place it in the queue for a technician to work on it. He tells the technician the symptoms reflect a video card issue when the root cause is really a memory module. The tech replaces the video card but it doesn’t fix the issue and to boot you find out the extended warranty doesn’t cover add in cards. So you ask the SW what else can cause that issue. He replies well the USB card, the 1394 aka firewire card, the sound card. All of which are not covered under the extended warranty. You purchased the warranty thinking you would avoid these types of unexpected expenses only to find out now they are not covered. To add insult to injury the warranty you purchased is from the maker of the PC! So you save up the money to pay for the non-covered items then take the PC to a different maker authorized repair center. By now the PC is 1 month out of warranty. They claim hey! it is the video card but you tell them the video card has already been replaced. You demand a thorough diagnosis on the PC. The 2nd repair facility reports it is a defective memory module which was covered under the extended warranty. They approach the maker of the PC telling them well the unit was brought in at 9 months for this same issue but the dealer wrongly determined the issue was the video card. The PC maker says tough shit. Make them pay for the repair.

            Nice work if you can get it. If I ran that racket I’d be in jail. However, large corps like Ford can get away with crap like that because they know that most individuals can’t bring a tort claim. So they blow it off. Hey we’ve got bazillions of customers worldwide. What do we care about one isolated Joe Blow we’ve screwed? This is their attitude. Sure the CS Warranty Rep isn’t technical. However, they do have access to all the repair work that has been performed on a sepcific VIN. The notes in the repair describe the symptom and the 2nd dealer stated the repair was done according the FCB X. For Ford Customer Support to deny the coverage under warranty was tanamount to fraud. That is in my opinion as a former Technical Repair Specialist from the N.O. Zone office when Ford actually cared about proper customer service.

            David Ward
            Guitarman6052@GMX.com

    • Here, here. They are horrible. If you have a car with good design, Fords are great, but sometimes, they put out hundreds of thousands of bad cars. They never admit they have a bad design and they tell customers tough luck.

      The current Ford I own is the last one I will ever buy.

      I hope that I never have to buy another car again. I absolutely hate what autoakers are putting out today.

      • Amen, Swamp.

        I’m kinda-sorta in the market in that I currently have no car except for my antique (the Trans-Am) and the bikes. My wife (separated) has our truck. If she comes back, the problem solves itself. If not, I need wheels. But not air bags or a computer, thank you.

        So I am looking at something late ’70s, maybe. I have always wanted a big ol’ American luxury sedan from that era. Like an Olds 98 or a Caddy. An El Camino is another tempting option. It has a bed. I need that. I’d also be interested in a 4WD truck from the ’80s. It will have a computer, of course. But no got-damned air bags and not too much in the way of “safety” electronics.

        • Eric –

          I hope that she comes back, but even if she does, you deserve to get yourself a cool car from the 70s. Of course, the early 70’s cars had much better power than the ones in the late 70s, but, I am partial to the partially downsized cars of the mid-late 1970s

          1. 1977-80 Chevrolet Impala, Caprice Coupe, Sedan or Wagon
          2. 1975 1/2-1979 Cadillac Seville
          3. 1975-1977 Buick Century
          4. 1977 Ford LTD II
          5. 1975-80 Chevy Monza
          6. 1975-1979 Buick Regal

          and many others. I think that GM overall made the best cars in the 70s. Followed by Chrysler and then Ford.

          • Swamprat, the ’65 LeSabre was the living end. It only seemed like it was a mile long. It probably was only 3/4ths of a mile long. 😉

          • I like the list, even owned a ’77 Cadillac Seville, which I loved, but buyer beware on those beautiful cars, those cars were way ahead of their time with the Oldsmobile 5.7 liter engine mated to a computer controlled electronic port fuel injected design manufactured by Bendix. When they stop running for no reason, there is no way to access codes on that computer, unlike climate control access on the 4100 Caddies a couple years later, so it’s parts shotgun time and a lot of luck.

            • A factory service manual paired with electro-mechanical know-how is required to service non-OBD diagnostics. Follow the troubleshooting charts step by step, to the letter, and neither luck nor shotgun is needed. But it gonna ain’t be quick and easy.

        • My next vehicle is going to be a mid 70’s-mid 80’s 4×4 Suburban. Simple; bulletproof (if it was kept from rusting) and a real truck, instead of this carpet and leather seat crap! I keep moving to older and older vehicles. Don’t want the airbags, ABS, electronics or star-wars technology they pit into every system these days which makes the vehicles economically unviable to drive once out of warranty. No thanks Detroit/Japan/Korea, I dion’t want anything you’;re currently making. I’m not paying $50K for a rolling computer in the shape of a pick-up truck/SUV. And thanks, Obama, you stupid ape, for making old car prices go insane by taking so many of ’em off the road with cash-4-clunkers….

          • Nunzio, a fairly easy way to find a cheap and structurally good Suburban to rebuild is to look on the Texas plains. The sun there isn’t as intense as it is here in the lower part of west Tx. so the paint stays longer, the air is less humid so no rust. I was in Seagraves for a few months in 2014 and saw many collector cars, most for sale with rare things like Anglia’s and early ‘Stangs as well as just about anything you can imagine. GM’s are replete and Tx. was and still is chock full of Suburban’s.
            But I’m all over west and north Texas(oil country)and see countless vehicles I’d like to have from virtually any era. I even see them under tarps and in barns, sorta like the one under a tarp in my driveway and the one in the barn.

        • eric, I have been down the “pickup” road. 80’s pickups sucked because the govt. neutered them with CAFE. Oh, the 4WD part is ok and finding one with a 307 you can hopefully have some fun with if you have some dynamite or magnum guns or just finding one somebody already stuck an acceptable small block in is fine. Of course, I always preferred 3/4 tons for a multitude of reasons and in the 80’s it meant a decent engine. You could have fun with a 454 but they’re thirsty and expensive to fix but not nearly so as a Ford of any sort. There are no Dodge’s left from then, not that you’d want to drive.

          So, it’s 70’s, real simple, or 90’s, the most reliable pickups ever made and good on fuel mileage too. I’m excepting the Ford since they have never been able to make a decent V-8 and in this country, the lack of running 90’s Fords for the last couple decades is testament to that. So today, what did I see but a 90’s Suburban that was like showroom. Every day I see more 90’s GM pickups or pickup based vehicles that have been redone to a quality they didn’t have when new. I have my eye on a ’94 with a bad engine but it may have sat too long and I know the owner, work for his son and drink beer with him. It might be in the barn getting a new engine one of these days. I drove by it 5 times today and should have stopped to see how it’s fared. It’s 4WD and ext. cab long bed. Think I’ll call Goose right now and see if he ain’t ready to give it to me.

          • Eight,

            Grab that 94 and rip the seats out and replace them with buckets from a 98 chevy. Thats the perfect truck. No damn airbags and the best seats ever made.

            • ancap51, thanks a lot. My ’93 had captains chairs and were pretty comfy. I don’t guess I’m familiar with ’98 seats. Are they captain chairs? I installed these nice covers over mine just to be easily cleaned, nothing wrong with the seat. The covers fit so tight as to make the seats more comfortable. And when I’d say something about the covers everybody to the last person would be surprised they weren’t original. That’s a good cover, when it fits so tight and covers so well it looks original.

              You might think I’m crazy but an air compressor and low style air ride seats were sorta in my mind. I have an original Peterbilt seat with armrests I was going to measure for that chore.

        • Dear Eric,

          “My wife (separated) has our truck. If she comes back, the problem solves itself.”

          I hope she comes back, and not just because it solves your problem with wheels!

          LOL.

          Here’s hoping you guys can work it out.

    • Nice posts!! Why did Ford QUIT the 300 302 351 460 ??
      I used to go to Corporate gold mine company auctions in Nevada and buy them
      in P.U. models. Especially the 302.They lasted for ever….Maybe thats why?

    • Back in the late 80’s I bought a new Bronco II V-6 4X4 (about $23,000.00 back then). From day one it vibrated above 25 MPH & severely on the freeway like a barber’s hand massage buzzer. Almost two years and 6 trips back to the dealer, where it sat for days at a time waiting for I don’t know what, and with a “customer satisfied” notation filed on each trip even though I was not. The final straw was a 20 minute drive with the dealer and Ford district reps. Final determination by the district rep was it was “commercially acceptable.” End of story, don’t bother us again.

      In frustration I took it to a frame/ drive line shop. 5 minutes on the lift the tech showed me where the rear end was obviously improperly jigged up and welded during manufacture, causing the drive shaft to twist itself up at an extreme angle and vibrate as it was driven. No mystery according to the drive line tech. Ford still told me all was well and stop bothering them.

      After a 15 minute drive around town by the state lemon law mechanic Ford was told to either fix it or buy the Bronco back. Ford dealer mechanics never saw the real problem, which was a simple fix for them, and the Ford rep was not going to give in on his “commercially acceptable” decision. When I turned it in and picked up my $21,000.00 check I asked the dealer what they were going to do with the Bronco. He said since it was so clean they would probably just sell it as a two year old used car. No Ford dealer has seen me since.

  4. They had an issue with the 5.7’s they were putting into Challengers for a time. The timing chain would part and with this being an interference engine, you’ve got a dead block.
    Because I bought mine used, technically I didn’t have the warranty on it, even though it was at about 60k miles. But with a call to Customer Satisfaction and calmly saying that they could give me a new car, new engine, or they wouldn’t like option 3, and having had a history of owning Dodge’s, they replaced the engine and covered it all.
    Now the downside was the resale on it went to shite because the vehicle history shows an engine replacement, which never looks good, but you take it when you don’t have to shell out roughly $8k.

    • Hi Gabe,

      Not just Chryslers!

      I was in my friend’s shop the other day working on a friend’s late-model GM LS (5.7) V8. I was amazed at how seemingly fragile the timing chain looked. My ancient Pontiac’s is easily twice as thick and much sturdier looking.

      In my experience, at least (and I know that’s anecdotal) the one part that’s never failed on me is an old school timing chain such as my Pontiac’s.

      • eric, it’s not hard to understand why they’d want a much lighter chain and have no need of the size of old school stuff with roller rockers and other lightweight components. At least it’s still a chain. In my mind, the easiest way to lose market share is to use a timing belt. Many car brands sell a past bill of goods, well, they all do I suppose, but one thing that’s bit even GM in the butt is a timing belt. I’d bet that’s a synthetic oil engine too.

        • Hi Eight,

          Amen on the belts… fish heads for them! (Subaru uses chains… which is to their credit.)

          I still prefer a cast iron block/heads… weight and airflow be damned.

          • Ditto on the evil of timing belts; my ’91 Honda Civic busted it 3 days before I’d had it scheduled for replacement. Murphy’s Law being fully in effect it was far from home and thus required an expensive tow. At least it wasn’t an interference setup, but what kind of idiot designs an engine that’s going to destroy itself when a vulnerable part breaks in the first place? The very least they could do is have the belt accessible for replacement without having to tear down half the engine, but then the stealership wouldn’t be able rake in the cash from us shade tree mechanics. I made sure every car I’ve owned since then came with a chain.

          • My stupid Subaru uses belts. I recently changed the timing belt and it still has the same engine noise coming from the engine that is related to an idler pully in the engine. It sounds like a burbling noise when warm.

            Yet another nit with this car.

          • eric, and that’s no guarantee. I still have a 454 that was an extremely used and abused engine out of a wrecking yard when it was installed in the pickup. A friend bought this pickup new in ’82, the first of the auto hub 4WD and a 6.2 diesel. The diesel never wanted to start. The glow plugs worked so it was obviously sucking air. I could never get the guy(dealership would do nothing so he took elected for lemon law arbitration, GM came lawyered up, he didn’t since it was arbitration). They asked if it wouldn’t start how he got it started and he said with starting fluid. Case closed, starting fluid voids the warranty. Not much of an arbitrater running that show). He sticks that 454 in it and uses it for a while and was going to sell it to the junkyard(really nice Silverado with all the bells, 3/4 4WD, the works)for $3200 so I paid a hundred more than that. I get it and it uses oil, lots of oil. Then a lifter started clacking so I opened it to adjust the rocker arm and saw this huge mound of gunk where the rocker arms and vales should have been seen. I knew I was screwed right then. I adjusted it and started changing oil and filters every 500 miles. Then it went to a partial miss and I pulled the valve covers again. It was fairly clean and you could see all the parts and I realized I had just run 5 lbs of crud through those oil filters, rings and valves. With a dead exhaust valve on #4 I upped the timing a bit since it was doggy as hell. Of course I kept having to bump the timing till it finally jumped time so bad you could barely start it and I parked it with full tanks and new tires. It still sits there, ruined tires and no fuel(2-3 years ago it gave its fuel lines up…..but it killed the weeds ha ha). It’s a shame too. But big blocks being what they are, a total rebuild with rebuilt heads would have been very expensive. I bought another pickup.

            I had seen engines like that I got out of wrecking yards but mostly paid $20 for them to replace the Ford V-8’s in a dune buggy type thing, 272, 292, 312’s, a few of each.

            My dad would start his pickup, drive 5 blocks to work, drive it home at lunch, back again and maybe another cold start to to to the PO. He did this for years on an S-10, the very pickup I told him to avoid like the plague. It had problems so I tried to fix it. Computer controlled carb, what a bitch. At first I was convinced it was a fuel pump so I pulled the one on that 2.8 and it was simply a huge blob of oily gunk stuff. I wire brushed it and found it was a spring and actuation rod but you’d never know to look at it when it first came out. I determined it was still working so I re-installed it. It kept screwing up and I talked him into trading it. He’d ruined the engine driving like that. He and my mother went through exhaust systems like crazy while my wife and I never need exhaust work on anything.

            I tried to service their vehicles but they insisted on taking them to those fast change places. I could have done it as quickly and it would have had better oil and filters and been completely service for free and maybe that was the hanging point for them. They showed up at our house one day and he said the oil light had come on while he was opening the gate. After it sat a while I checked it. No sign of oil on the dipstick. He’s just been to Jiffy Lube and had it service, drop it straight to our house. So I stick in a quart of oil and nothing, I stick in another and it show on the end of the stick. The 3rd quart got it up to about a half quart low and I had run out of that type of oil I didn’t use on much of anything. He was disgusted that it had less than 2 quarts of oil in it but not enough to let me take care of it. I can’t explain it. My wife and I would just shake our heads at their vehicular woes. It all boiled down to driving 5 blocks and shutting one off and using people who didn’t know or care to learn how to do proper oil and lube changes. Sometimes, it’s the attitude you can’t fix.

          • My boss finally replaced the timing belt on his 4.7L V8 powered ’98 Landcruiser at 265k miles….

            RE:”what kind of idiot designs…” an interference motor? Raising compression (better performance/efficiency) normally means you are decreasing chamber volume – i.e. moving the piston closer to the valve – by decking the block/heads, thinner head gasket etc… Piston to valve clearance can be a problem when pushing the limits.
            Why do you think the newer 4s and 6s run as well as/better than the old school V8s? They’re not doing it naturally aspirated with an 8.5:1 static compression ratio…

            • Hi Bob,

              Yup!

              My ’76 Pontiac’s 455 originally had 7.6:1 CR (really). Which is why the 7.4 liter V8 made all of 200 hp in stock configuration.

              • Oh, I know. 7.6:1 is ok if you are gonna top the motor with a 6-71 blower but not so good otherwise.
                Don’t forget the teeny-weeny cam required to preserve some semblance of cylinder pressure at that low of an SCR. Does little to help make power in the mid to upper rpm ranges thus the low peak hp number.

      • The timing chain seldom failed on those old GM engines. Wear would cause considerable slop in the system but the chains remained robust. That nylon cam gear, however, was a different story as the miles, wear and sludge built up. The lowly Chevy six did not have the problem, it was a gear drive – no chain required. When someone claims to have broken one of those timing chains, chances are the gear failed first and the chain couldn’t swallow the debris.

        • I seem to remember a Ford inline 6 that had gear driven valve train that was known to do 500,000 miles in well cared for vehicles.

        • I lost a great Tonowanda engine, a 350 because of that damned nylon gear. I swore the next Chevy engine I built would have a gear setup for the cam. Cam doesn’t walk either so everything benefits.

      • Hey Eric, remember the good old 300 cu. in. straight-6 Fords? Those things would last longer than most diesels, because they had timing gears instead of a chain or belt!

        • Hi Nunzio,

          Yeah, I do! 🙂

          In addition to being very durable, engines like that could be rebuilt easily and inexpensively… and be good to go for another 225,000 miles…

        • Nunzio, check out some of the Ford pickup truck forums. Those 300’s are still very popular. I’m debating building one for my ’68 bump since the 360 in it only gets about 9 mpg.

          • A friend had a van with one, 3/4 T I believe. I don’t recall it getting decent fuel mileage but it was utterly reliable, the best engine Ford ever made. That is an engine that might do well with a couple overdrives. That orta bump up the mileage.

        • My first truck was a ’65 Chevy LWB 2wd beast with the Chevy straight 6 and 3 on the tree. I was out on a date, way out, and when it came time to get my beau home the truck wouldn’t start. Had to literally run home (several country miles), get my dad to go back out to where I’d left my girlfriend so I could get her home. After tearing the engine down, we found that the timing gear was a composite material and had shattered. So while agree, gears are better than chains, which are better than belts, even the gears sometimes go.

          • Ha! My first vehicle was a ’66 Chevy full sized 1/2 ton 1 wheel drive with a 283 engine and a 3 on a tree tranny. I bought it in ’80 from a guy who used it as a farm truck. After a great deal of rubbing during waxing it, the truck ended up looking really good with its original paint and chrome bumper. Its top speed was 85 mph when I bought it, but my consistently hard driving of it blew out the cobwebs eventually as pushed the top speed to 100 mph. I ruined the tranny twice before I sold the truck. It is a wonder that I survived those reckless driving years! And now I have well over a million miles of safe driving experience while still driving faster than most people.

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