Now that I’m scouring eBay Australia for crazy Detroit Down Under cars— maybe even as crazy as a 4-71-blown six-cylinder Torana— I’ve been dragged once again into the Whirlpool Of Arcane Internet Car Knowledge. You know how that goes: you go to look up the Australian Falcon on Wikipedia, a reference to the Valiant Charger leads you to the mother of all Chrysler-related online time-sucks, and then your whole day is used up. This time, Allpar sent me to Valiant.org, and that’s where I found the page on the Chrysler Hemi-Six engine. There you’ll find a description by a Chrysler engineer of how his Australian counterparts tested their new (American-designed) engine:
They couldn’t get an engine to run lab endurance for more than about 20 hours or so without dropping a valve or putting a hole in a piston. Well I suspected right away in the States what it was, and when I got there, sure as hell, they were running wide open throttle lab endurance (their schedule was probably different from ours, but ours consisted of 10 hours each, and I may forget one, but the first 10 hours were 800 wide open – can you believe that? – then 1600 wide open, then 2400, 3200, the fifth 10 hour cycle was 3600, and the last was 9 hours at 4000 and the last hour at 4400, all wide open throttle. And their engines were failing in the second 10 hours due to pre-ignition or valve overheating.
Now, the Aussies were using hot spark plugs, which is the reason they were killing engines, but let’s get back to that standard Chrysler endurance test, circa 1966: ten hours WFO at 800 RPM! That’s like dragging a flat-tired trailer full of dead horses up Grapevine Hill, in top gear, against a 60 MPH headwind (granted, the cooling system on the test stand was probably beefier than the one in a Valiant VC, but still). Just another day on the job for a Chrysler pushrod engine! With that philosophy, it’s no wonder the Slant Six and LA small-block V8 were so tough.