What the hay is a "nail head" V8?

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What the hay is a "nail head" V8?

Post by jerryhawthorne on Thu Mar 19, 2015 8:01 pm

I have been following WC's thread on the new Magnavox with much interest.  WC's pet peeve's was calling it a "Maggie".  I guess I can appreciate that.  I shall refrain.  I must admit that in a subsequent thread our leader Bill mentioned the "M" word twice.  Rank has has its advantages! Very Happy Very Happy
I still want to know, what differentiates an engine as a "nail head".  Call it just curiosity and not knowing.  I have worked on flat heads and small block Fords.  Give me some help WC. confused I still can't believe GM installed heads with nails. bounce Yes Bill, a joke.

Jerry

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Re: What the hay is a "nail head" V8?

Post by 75X11 on Thu Mar 19, 2015 8:47 pm

I had heard the term, too but never knew. I do know that Buick was the last of GM's line to use the inline 8 engine. I read an autobiography of an old time ad exec from J. Walter Thompson and he said they were hard put to flog off the powerplants in their ad copy. He wrote they finally hit on calling the engine the B-58, I forget whether it was the 57 or 58. He wrote they were quite relieved that they had got through that clean smelling.
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Re: What the hay is a "nail head" V8?

Post by 75X11 on Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:03 pm

I see now I was way off on the year. Wikipedia lists 1953 as the last straight 8 year for Buick.
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Re: What the hay is a "nail head" V8?

Post by Wildcat445 on Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:04 pm

Okay, Jerry.  Here is the skinny.

"Nailhead is slang nomenclature for Buick V-8 engines, built from 1953 thru 1966 in five displacements from 264 to 425 cubic inches.  The valves in the first edition were relatively small for the time.  The hotrodders and detractors of Buick nicknamed the Vertical Valve engine "nailhead' to make fun of its small valves.  It has since become normal nomenclature for many FANS of Buick.  Vertical Valve or Valve-in-head are the most correct nomenclature, from a strictly technical standpoint.  By 1955, the valves in Buick engines were as large as most anything else.  The small valves made a smooth engine, but did nothing positive for breathing.  The 322 made 188 hp in 1953 and 255 by 1956.  

They called the Ford L-head V-8 a flathead.  They called Harley L-head engines pan heads, and the OHV engines shovel heads (or the other way around, I can never remember).  They called valve-in-head engines overhead.  More slang.

Does this adequately answer your question, Jerry?

As a matter of fact, Pontiac was the last GM division, along with Packard, the last American auto manufacturer to use a Straight 8 engine, 1954.  Buick discontinued its Straight 8 after the 1953 models.  The '53 Buick Special used the old 263 cid Straight 8, while the Super and Roadmasters got the new 322 V-8.

I'm glad you are enjoying my Magnavox thread. I appreciate that.

WC


Last edited by Wildcat445 on Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:18 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: What the hay is a "nail head" V8?

Post by 75X11 on Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:13 pm

My dad had a '53 Special. It was the car he had when I was born in '56.
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Re: What the hay is a "nail head" V8?

Post by Wildcat445 on Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:14 pm

The "B-58" was the official nomenclature for the awful, gawdy 1958 Buick models.  Chrome laden kitsches, with myriad quality control problems, single-digit fuel ecomony and one of the worst automatic transmissions ever foisted off on the unsuspecting American public.  Flight Pitch Dynaflow used a grade-retard gear that people did not understand, so failures were abundant.  The "Suddenly it's 1949!" styling of the '57's, the goofy styling of the ''59's with their atrocious "Delta Wings" nearly put Buick on the same lot with Desoto and Edsel by 1960.  Had Red Curtis not been the President of GM with a soft spot for Buick, that very well might have happened.  Don't get me started on the '58 Buicks.  All they were good for was a demolition derby. Buick could not give away the 1957 thru 1959 models.

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Re: What the hay is a "nail head" V8?

Post by 75X11 on Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:16 pm

I heard putting their grilles together was a real treat.
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Re: What the hay is a "nail head" V8?

Post by Wildcat445 on Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:20 pm

160 individual squares to rechrome. The chrome bill looks like a home mortgage.

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Re: What the hay is a "nail head" V8?

Post by 75X11 on Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:23 pm

I wonder how many mpg's were taken up in those cars'dentures?
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Re: What the hay is a "nail head" V8?

Post by Wildcat445 on Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:32 pm

Even the smallest Special with a two-barrel carburetor got single digit fuel economy. Every '58 Buick engine required premium fuel. The 364 cid V-8 was such a slug that a Nash Rambler would run off and hide from it. I had a really nice, 24,000 mile '58 Super two door hardtop, two tone blue, that I had such trouble with keeping running that I put it in a demolition derby. You could not kill that heap in a demo derby, but it would not run a week without the carburetor icing up or some other silly crap happening. THE worst Buick ever, hands down. The 1970 and 1974 models were not much better for much the same reasons. The "factory bulletins" on '58 Buicks were three editions, each as thick as a phone book.

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Re: What the hay is a "nail head" V8?

Post by jerryhawthorne on Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:45 pm

Thank you WC for your explanation of the silly terminology. Makes sense now, them small valves looked like nails! Never was a GM friend in my early youth, just Fords. The only GM I bought later (much) in life was a Saturn. Purchased it because if was one of the few autos that could be flat towed. Not a bad car but devoured fuel sending units yearly. After the 3rd replacement coming due, traded it in.
Now happy in life with a Camry and a VW diesel.
Bill, I'm glad those heads were not attached my nails, seems unreliable! Very Happy
Jerry

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Re: What the hay is a "nail head" V8?

Post by Wildcat445 on Thu Mar 19, 2015 11:27 pm

I have never owned a car that was not a GM product, usually a Buick, Chevrolet or Pontiac.  The wife had a Falcon when we got married, but that was not mine, exactly.  It had the big 144 engine with automatic transmission.  A kid on a skateboard could outrun it and not break a sweat.  It was the most unbreakable vehicle ever on four wheels.   I am about to own my first foreign car.  I hope I don't live to regret my first foray into dipstick-less "German engineering."  You're welcome.  Best.

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Re: What the hay is a "nail head" V8?

Post by Wildcat445 on Thu Mar 19, 2015 11:35 pm

Just for the record, there are two identical threads going on this topic. I will delete the duplicate.

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Re: What the hay is a "nail head" V8?

Post by Doug Burskey on Fri Mar 20, 2015 12:49 am

There was a 58 Buick Limited here in a local auto salvage yard in the early-mid 1970's It was not wrecked or rusted bad. However Dad had to ask what was wrong with it. The yard owner said the Dynaflow was shot. Harley Earl and his design staff shure had some fun with those 58 GM cars!

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Re: What the hay is a "nail head" V8?

Post by Wildcat445 on Fri Mar 20, 2015 1:20 am

The Limiteds had the Flight Pitch transmission. That thing sent a lot of the '58's to the junk yard. A Limited was a Roadmaster 75 with another foot of sheet metal and chrome hung on the rear quarters. All the GM cars were huge in '58. I was at a car show recently and a '58 Bel Air sedan parked next to my Buick. It lacked about 6" being as long as my '63 Electra. Many '58's that are restored now get a regular Dynaflow installed. You have to change the torque tube and transmission crossmember, but parts are scarce and spendy for the Flight Pitch. The FP was standard in Roadmaster and Limited and optional in other series.

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