Fortunately, This is not my car. I'm into non-interference because interference sucks.
For those not familiar with the concept; A car motor can be designed so that components can share the same physical space in the engine during different cycles of rotation. As long as the timing stays accurate. If the timing is not accurate, or a belt or cam fails, you end up with something like the overly dramatic lead photo.
This is very very important if you use a vehicle or are considering a vehicle with more than 50,000 miles on it. Sometimes the car companies didn't quite figure out how everything should work, and those timing belts and cams are old and have high potential of failing at speed.
Unless, of course, you prove the negative and replace these parts with new ones ready for another 60K before you need to do it again. Sure, it might last 100-200k if you forget..
So, think everybody out there with their cars is thinking timing belt intervals and preventive pulley replacement? Heh..
What is now known as "non-interference" motors are your older motors or in this case, my motors. Not a peep after 1990 in this garage. Okay, a carport, but it's got a Beetle stuck in it for the moment. But that's for later.
Simpler ones that you can screw up in different ways, but unless they fall out of the head, valves and pistons rarely meet except maybe on the assembly bench.
As with all mechanical things, they are subject to wear and failures, but at least some of the biggest moving pieces of metal in the car don't ever make contact with the smallest. Not a fair fight.
In my case $400 for a competent mechanic to take the top off the motor, put a metal gasket in and put it back on right, is fairly reasonable, even if it's half the value of the car. When they change the timing belt, there's little risk of catastrophic failure if it's off by a cog at first.
(well, you should always get the timing right anyway, saves time and gas.)
I'm investing in this motor because it's still in good shape. Just me attempting to steam clean it from all engine ports.
Even More Retro Aside.
I'm also into aircooled VWs because VW water cooling sucks. Any time I've had a major problem, it's probably due to the cooling system. I mean, I didn't even know aluminum could rust, but VW managed to make a Vanagon motor that could.
In addition I get to drag my old Beetle motor to the guy to see what I can get in trade-in on a competently assembled aircooled. Not as reasonable a price but worth every friggin penny. imho. Yeah, interference on the valves is possible. But the guy is 70. I better get one before he retires. And I think little would motivate me less to finally weld that floorpan in and start patching the engine bay to put some motor in there.