In the early days copper as well as brass were being used as head gaskets. The main advantage of using copper head gaskets is that copper provides strength to the head gasket. The actual alloys used in copper head gaskets possess a tensile strength of as much as 32,000 psi, which happens to be a lot more than normal head gaskets. Another great advantage of using a copper head gasket is that it has a 25 % coefficient of elasticity that allows the gasket to be able to stretch before it breaks.
Copper head gaskets gives you also the most robust combustion seal there is. These kinds of gaskets are being used in all nitro-methane (Top Fuel) as well as methanol (Blown Alcohol) applications. They are also often used in high-performance applications which suffer from tremendous cylinder pressures, for example extremely static compression ratios found on naturally-aspirated motors as well as where superchargers or even turbochargers are being used.
Some manufacturers have also made head gaskets of solid copper for higher horsepower engines. Due to the fact that copper also conducts heat very well, it is able to transfer heat away from the engine block and avoid damage. Solid copper gaskets are cut from sheets of solid copper and can last for the lifetime of your engine. It is sometimes even possible to re-use solid copper gaskets more than one time, which happens to be very important for race engines. Another advantage is that it is not likely that copper head gaskets will “blow-out” because it takes heat away from the combustion area.