Engine Life




I have been a reader of MOTOR SPORT for over three years now. However, during this time I have been astonished that many British motorists seem so proud of having covered 50,000 Miles on one engine. Admittedly, European cars achieve far greater mileages, but very few people seem to realise their potential.

In 1956 my father’s firm purchased a Chevrolet van, which was later converted to a station-wagon. It has now covered over 800,000 km. over some of the worst roads the Middle East has to offer. The only major components to be replaced were the engine and the back axle. The latter was necessary after the driver hit a large boulder in excess of 150 k.p.h. The engine was replaced at 400,000 km. by a factory reconditioned unit, as it began to use oil. The first engine never had its head off, while the present one has been decoked once, and the valve springs replaced once or twice as they tend to break, being easily corroded by condensation.

I have been driving for four years now in the Middle East, and learned to drive on the Chevrolet. Understandably it has not the acceleration of our Oldsmobile, with its 325-b.h.p. V8, but its 4 1/2-litre six is still good for 150 k.p.h. after 250,000 miles!

The gearbox is very fast, and is the original. To prove its worth, we took it to Jerusalem from Baghdad, and back, last summer, and it covered the 2,200 km. using no oil or water. For fast, short journeys it is ideal, and last holidays we covered 175 km. in 1 1/2 hours over bad roads, an average of around 70 m.p.h.!

Many people in this country think of American cars as “Spongemobiles,” but there must be thousands all over the world, with the same trouble-free record as ours, with greater mileages. All this adds up to one thing: the Americans build their cars well, and they are made to last.

I wonder if a British car could better this record, in the same life span of seven years?