I know for many of you, this is terribly old hat. “These were on my sheets as a toddler!” you may be screaming, alarming everyone else in the Sizzler. That’s okay — for as common as these terms are, there’s still many out there who may want a little explainer or refresher, and I’m here to help.

The cylinder head on an engine, part of what is sometimes called the ‘top end’ and almost never called ‘the engine’s beret,’ is usually where the valves and valvetrain machinery are, and where the intake and exhaust manifolds (well, sorta, in that the exhaust valves can be in there) meet the actual pistons and crank and other exciting ‘bottom-end’ parts of an engine.

There’s a number of different designs of these, and the common ones tend to have letter names, based roughly on their shape: I, L, T, and F. Except T and F aren’t really common at all anymore, and I still can’t quite figure out how to see an F in that F head.

Anyway, I’m trying to make some charts covering some basic motoring ideas, so here you go. Enjoy!


Contact the author at jason@jalopnik.com.