Engine Of The Day: Buick Nailhead

Before there was the torque-o-terror 455 in the Buick GSX, there was the Nailhead. Getting its nickname courtesy of its small, vertically-oriented valves, the Nailhead was manufactured from 1957 through 1966.

The kinks in the exhaust ports necessitated by the Nailhead's funky valvetrain arrangement meant that it was tough for hot-rod hooligans to get the kind of flow they needed for insane horsepower numbers, but the setup made for an exceptionally narrow V8 that was easy to squeeze in tight engine compartments (a few seriously deranged Nailhead drag racers swapped the intake and exhaust manifolds, feeding the engine through the exhaust ports and blowing the exhaust out the intake ports). In the real world of street driving, the Nailhead made torque aplenty and was known for the smoothness and reliability demanded by GM's second-only-to-Cadillac luxury marque. You could get a Nailhead with 364, 400, 401, and 425 cubic inches; the meanest factory version of the 425 grunted out a monstrous 465 foot-pounds of torque.
[Car Craft, Wikipedia, Buick Street; photo source: Car Craft]