By on July 5, 2011


You find some interesting historical documents in junked cars, and sometimes they’re glued to an engine’s valve cover.

This ’68 or ’69 Dodge D-series pickup had a pretty pedestrian LA series engine— probably a 318— but the Atomic Age “Special Electronic Quality Test” sticker got my attention. What do you suppose this test entailed? Automatic dynamometer? Electronic measuring of tolerances? Aura reading?

And what about the Mound Road Engine Plant mentioned on the sticker? A bit of research led me right to Allpar’s excellent piece on Chrysler’s big Detroit V8 factory,, which was torn down in 2003.

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28 Comments on “Special Electronic Quality Test Can’t Keep This Engine From The Crusher’s Jaws...”


  • avatar
    golden2husky

    That’s a 318, though it could be a 360, too. And funny you mentioned that sticker. My Fury had the same thing on it’s valve cover, but on the opposite bank! I never knew what that was about, but I didn’t have AllPar or the internet back then. Even though I still have the car, i don’t have the valve covers anymore.

    Murilee, don’t think the hi res photo didn’t go unnoticed and unappreciated. I liked being able to zoom right in on the engine…I miss the easy to see/easy to work on cars…

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      I miss the easy to see/easy to work on cars…

      You hit the nail on the head for many of us in the enthusiast community. I enjoy getting my hands dirty and I have decided I must have one car in my possession that I can easily work on. Even many of the V8 cars of the 60 and 70s have enough room in there to remove the exhaust manifolds and swap them for headers without removing the engine or disassembling the front clip.

      • 0 avatar
        texan01

        That’s what I love about my Explorer, the hardest to get to part on it is the heater core.

        My brother-in-law hates FWD because they are too hard to work on, and buys an Envoy that you have to dismantle half of the top of the engine to change the plugs out on that sweet Atlas I-6.

      • 0 avatar
        Ian Anderson

        Texan, I assume it’s 4WD/AWD? Just wait until he finds out the front diff is a part of the block/oil pan!

      • 0 avatar
        texan01

        Ian, no it’s 2wd, and yep he figured out the big hole through the oil pan was for the front axle.

        He cringed when I bought my 6000 and had the sideways 2.8 in it. he said it was going to be a bear to fix anything on it. He was comparing it to my sisters 94 Achieva with the neutered Quad 4. that 6000 was a slam dunk to work on by comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      My Favorites of that engine family are the A-4. They’re quite the little kettle.

      History here:
      http://www.allpar.com/mopar/la4.html

      Here’s one in a Locost:
      http://www.locostusa.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=2052

  • avatar
    william442

    Please, rocker arm cover.

  • avatar
    Ian Anderson

    I remember the first time I saw an engine bay that didn’t have (and didn’t have to have) all the modern clutter and actually had enough room to work- I was amazed (Keep in mind I’m only 18 so EFI is the era I’m a part of). The S10 I drive isn’t bad with it’s 90º 4.3, the 60º 2.8s and four bangers must be a delight. The only problems are the spaghetti factory of vacuum hoses (hey why doesn’t the heat or fan work and it’s running like crap?…) and the spark plugs being right against the manifold (damn pushrod motors!). Other than that it’s still easier than anything FWD.

    • 0 avatar
      DubTee1480

      About the same. I had to remove a ton of brackets to get my valve covers off of my 2.8L. But at this point I’ve owned the truck for 10 years, I can do most of the repairs and maintenance with my eyes closed. After I get the house remodeled and a proper shop built I’m dropping a 3.4 (the RWD Camaro variant based on the 2.8) in and overhauling the entire truck. There’s nothing on the market that can really replace it.

    • 0 avatar

      You should check out old car engine bays with inline sixes that could also hold a V8. Massive amounts of space around the engine.

      Here is a Falcon with a six: http://www.flickr.com/photos/daveseven/5895159365/

    • 0 avatar
      Ian Anderson

      Dub, I can poke around confidently in the engine bay , getting better. I’m looking to pick up one of my own (the one I drive now is my dad’s but I fuel it/maintain it) with a 2.8 and five-speed and look into the 3.4 Camaro swapover. You’re right nothing new could replace these trucks, their only downfall around here is rust.

      Dave, I know! I helped someone work on an ~1965 Impala wagon and I could damn near stand between the engine and the fenders.

      • 0 avatar
        DubTee1480

        s-series.org, s10forum.com & s-seriesforum.com are good sources of info… also http://home.windstream.net/mcfly/truckenter.htm
        Mickey Flynn’s 3.4 page has been up and down in the years since I first started looking, but it looks like it’s back up.
        Head south with a flat bed and pick up a few for spare body parts, lol

  • avatar
    obbop

    Was it the 1974 Impala that required the engine to be raised up a bit to reach that one rear spark plug?

    • 0 avatar
      AKADriver

      A few cars are like this, mostly tiny ones that weren’t intended to hold V8s to begin with like the Vega-based Monza that was posted the other day. I believe the LT1-powered Camaro/Firebird also requires some unusual acrobatics to get that rear pair.

    • 0 avatar
      DubTee1480

      Correct on the LT1 F-bodies… the rear plugs are underneath the lower windshield. RE the 74 Impala, I guess the more things change the more they stay the same… in my 2004 Impala I have to tilt the engine forward to service the rear bank of plugs.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      It was the Vega/Monza with the V8.

      If you had to pull the engine out of the Impala to do anything short of yanking the block, you were doing it wrong. Been there, with a marathon engine swap in a ’74 Caprice wagon, we did it on a bet, and did it in 12 hours, swapped out the dead 400 for a lively 305.

      First time I did plugs on my explorer, before I figured out the trick, I broke all 6 of them off. 2nd time I did the same trick that I used on my Chevelle and used a 3/4″ socket as a short extension for the plug socket.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        I owned a 73 Impala and changing plugs was no problem. On my 81 Monte Carlo w/ the 3.8 229 Chevy V-6. To do the plugs I had to pull the wheel on the drivers side and use an extension w/socket to access them. It seemed to be the easiest way vs. from under the hood.

    • 0 avatar

      The Sunbeam Tiger had a little access panel you had to open to get the rear most spark plug.

  • avatar
    vww12

    This message has passed not one, but several special electronic quality tests.

    This message has been delivered using special electronic tools and systems.

    Please treasure this message.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    After mulling over this for awhile, I think it’s just the heavy-duty equivalent of the little paper tags you’d find years ago in a pair of pants or shirt that simply said “Inspected by No. 9″.

  • avatar
    windswords

    Chrysler V8’s always had a good reputation in the 50’s and 60’s. After reading the Allpar article I can see why. I heard they had forged cranks instead of cast. I do know that more often than not when I see an old beater (unrestored) still on the road it’s a New Yorker, Newport, Polara, or Satellite rather than a GM or Ford product of the same era.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      A little known tidbit from the Mopar files are their valvetrain quirks; the big block engines used lifters nearly 0.100″ larger in diameter than what was found in Ford and GM big blocks. For budget racers, this was a godsend as it allowed for a more aggressive cam profile than Ford and GM engines could support before making the mandatory shift to roller lifters and camshafts, which adds several hundred dollars to the cost of parts.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Unless there was an engine swap sometime there wouldn’t be a 360 in that truck since the 360 wasn’t produced yet. I would bet on a 273 or 318.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      You’re right, my bad. That the engine is LA is without doubt. I went out to my garage and lifted the hood just to check…the memory isn’t what it used to be…

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    All chrysler engines (and probably all engines) get a “cold test”. You spin the engine at x rpm, with pressure transducers on the intake and exhaust ports, you can see if the valves are opening and closing at the right times, for the correct ammount of duration.
    Oil pressure and spark are also checked. I bet this special electronic test was some form of pre-cursor to the modern cold test. I was never in mound rd engine, but I’ve been in Trenton Engine, Saltillo Engine, and Mack engine many times in a previous life.

  • avatar
    smlfox

    I there was a similar sticker on my friend’s dad’s old 1984 Dodge Ram. I could be misremembering though because I know it had a little box attached to the carburetor that said Electronic Ignition Control or some such. I think I remember seeing a “special electronic test” sticker and laughing to myself at the scarcity of electronics on the truck.

    I miss driving it, sometimes, despite it’s state of disrepair. It was a beast.


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