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Did you test it correctly? (Remove wires and put 12v to terminals.......hold them there a few seconds and engine will run very lumpy, almost conk out)
Does the solenoid at least click? (Might just be the solenoid?)
If solenoid clicks but engine doesn't go lumpy, then likely an oilway problem (of course a visual test that the plunger is going in-and-out and is contacting the pin is necessary)
Somebody been in the cam cover recently and forgot to put the plunger back in, or worse, the plunger fell into the engine when putting the cam cover back on!?

Mike in Canada wrote an excellent thread on getting his VVT working again......and certainly noticed a difference between a working VVT and not.
Like Eric says it won't harm the engine, but the VVT does make some overall performance difference.

http://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/spider-1966-up/309313-how-do-you-test-vvt-mechanicals.html
 
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