Recently, I found myself in the presence of an engine. This is hardly uncommon, but this engine was, uh, a little weird. The engine itself, a GM inline-six, isn’t that unusual but whatever the hell is going on with that valve cover is. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one quite like that. What’s going on here?

The engine is a third-generation Chevrolet six-cylinder, an engine that was built for a long ass-time–from 1962 to 1988–and then continuing in Brazil all the way until 2001.

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Most pictures of this engine I’ve seen online–and by “most” I mean “all”–have normal valve covers, without those two weird little upper stories stuck on the delightfully yellow piece.

Now, if you follow all those blue pipes and other hoses that snake into those two yellow whatevers, it seems like maybe these are part of some kind of crankcase breather and re-burner setup, likely for emissions regulations?

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I think that’s what’s going on here, something to re-capture crankcase fume blow-off and burn it off in the air-fuel mixture, but I’m still confused as to if this was a factory thing.

I mean, I can’t imagine why any private owner would want to do the work to put something like this on their engine, unless they were fiercely environmentally conscious, and, if that were the case, I suspect they should be driving something powered by an engine more efficient than this clunky old fossil.

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It’s got to be a factory-thing, then. I saw this in California. Could it be an early California emissions-package modification?

I’d love to hear what all of you think, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of you clever bastards out there knows the whole story behind this thing.

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Even if no one does, can we all agree that those extra valve cover-toppers would make great butter dishes if removed and cleaned up a bit?

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)

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