Buick “Valve In Head” Authorized Service Porcelain Enamel Sign circa 1938 SOLD AP520

Another great piece of petroliana. Its age is unmistakable. Its condition, however, is very good, considering:  visible rust around the edges and some minor chipping.

12″ diameter

Price on request.

!N 1903, One of founder David Dunbar Buick’s employees had developed a prototype for a cylinder head with integrated overhead valves, which they called “valve-in-head.” Significantly more complex than the then ubiquitous flat head and sleeve-valve designs, the OHV traded simplicity for serious power gains in the high end. Push-rod engines are considered lazy by today’s screaming DOHC standards, but in 1903, moving the needle to 4000 rpm was uncharted territory on a tachometer. Unfortunately, the technological innovation broke him—developing the engine cost Buick everything.

What Buick did have was a super-compact-for-the-era 159-cubic-inch (roughly 2.5 liters) inline two-cylinder engine with a revolutionary valve design. The importance of the innovation was not lost on future General Motors cofounder William C. Durant, who purchased the company (and all its innovations) from Buick. Durant put the engine to use immediately in the Buick Model B, where it made roughly 21 hp; by comparison, contemporary Studebakers were making about 15 hp with a full liter more of displacement. Less displacement means lower weight, lower weight means more fun. Buick would come to dominate the pre-assembly-line era, producing their millionth unit just 20 years later.