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STP's 1951 Competition?

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  • STP's 1951 Competition?

    Chemical Compounds was an important division of The Studebaker Corporation in the early 1960s: They manufactured the world-renowned STP Oil Treatment. That product was so well-known at the time that it brought a good cash cow to Studebaker's table and enabled the corporation to have considerable presence at The Indianapolis Motor Speedway when that venue was critical to any automotive marketing.

    Automotive elixirs were nothing new, of course.

    January 21, 2009 was a terrible winter day in Indianapolis. Nonetheless, fellow SDCer and good friend Mike Parker flew to Indianapolis from California retirement that day for a joint mission to which neither of us were looking forward...but, only two weeks later, were so happy to have undertaken: Driving 300 miles from Indianapolis to Mike's home town of Rockford IL the next day to see a long-time mutual freind, yet another fellow SDCer, Ronnie Powell.

    Ronnie was gravely ill on oxygen and his passing was deemed imminent. Mike and Ronnie had been good friends forever, from high school days in Rockford, that Mike wanted to return and see Ronnie "one last time." So did I. It proved prescient: We had a wonderful visit with conversational, fully-lucid Ronnie Powell the next day: January 22. Ronnie then passed away peacefully 8 days later, on January 30, 2009.

    While running around bitterly-cold, snowy Rockford after seeing Ronnie, we visited an old friend of Mike's who had just bought a big old garage full of long-stored items from a fellow who had been in the service station business in Rockford in the 1950s and 60s. Among the items rescued were maybe a dozen unopened cases of glass bottles. The boxes were stenciled with the shipping date 12/26/1951.

    Each box contained a dozen bottles of an elixir identified as Moto-Vim, "The Motor Vitamin"





    The guy had so much of the stuff Mike and I were each offered a case, but Mike had to pass. He was flying back to California the next day from Indianapolis, and glass bottles of this size and unknown contents would have likely set off every security device within five miles of Indianapolis International Airport!

    I didn't know what I'd do with a whole case, but gladly accepted two bottles from one of the sealed cases he opened while we were there.

    I've removed the cap from one of these and taken a whiff. Even though the liquid is more than 60 years old, I strongly suspect it is about 95% kerosene with some coloring and happy odors mixed in, along with trace elements of who-knows-what.

    One side of the label instructions would have us believe you might want to use it in a new car, to desludge an old crankcase, or even to rejuvinate your starter or generator!



    The other side of the label, meanwhile, leaves no doubt as to the benefits of using the product as directed during a comprehensive tune-up:



    It certainly is good to know it will "stop oil pumping cylinder if not egg-shaped," among other things. Undoubtedly, their lawyers insisted on that disclaimer.

    (Yeah, right; as if they would have had any lawyers reviewing this product's marketing claims!)

    Methinks Studebaker could have saved the entire cost of the supercharged R2 engine program if they had just put STP Oil Treatment in the crankcase of an ordinary 225/289 engine, as they were doing anyway, and augment that with a bottle Moto-Vim in the initial gas tank fill...with instructions for a bottle to be poured down the carburetor during new-car pre-delivery prep.

    Those were the days...."Why drive a sluggish car?" BP
    Last edited by BobPalma; 06-29-2012, 03:52 PM.
    We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

    Ayn Rand:
    "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

    G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

  • #2
    If you want some Magic snake oil, I'll sell you some Cans of Sta-Lube, or how about some Essentialube (real cheap) you just can't be without these elixirs! They were more like Green Alcohol but do remove Carbon.
    StudeRich
    Second Generation Stude Driver,
    Proud '54 Starliner Owner

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    • #3
      I haven't seen them in years but I remember you could buy those little pellets you put in each cylinder that were advertised as an engine rebuild in a box.
      Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Gunslinger View Post
        I haven't seen them in years but I remember you could buy those little pellets you put in each cylinder that were advertised as an engine rebuild in a box.
        Good one, Bruce...and you couldn't break or splash those little pellets all over the place.

        I got out that bottle today to photograph just for some forum fun and realized, "Holy cow; this thing is glass! The last thing I need splashed all over my shop floor are shards of glass and this kerosene mix!" BP
        We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

        Ayn Rand:
        "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

        G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

        Comment


        • #5
          Don't forget about 'BARDAHL'......... It takes care of those two evil-doers: "Blacky Carbon" and "Sticky Valves" (Real bad Guys!)

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          • #6
            Bob, if you were ever to write an autobiography full of these anecdotes, I would be first in line to buy a copy. Seriously.
            '63 Lark Custom, 259 v8, auto, child seat

            "Your friendly neighborhood Studebaker evangelist"

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            • #7
              Originally posted by JimC View Post
              Bob, if you were ever to write an autobiography full of these anecdotes, I would be first in line to buy a copy. Seriously.
              Thanks, Jim, but don't hold your breath!

              I was just thinking about our forum and this Moto-Vim product:

              Why is it I have no trouble envisioning former Kirby Vacuum Cleaner salesman John Wipff standing in front of a mountain of Moto-Vim at a car show, with "the pitch" at full throttle?

              The sales potential boggles the mind, Johnny. BP
              We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

              Ayn Rand:
              "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

              G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

              Comment


              • #8
                I wonder if it was available from J.C. Whitney's?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by qsanford View Post
                  I wonder if it was available from J.C. Whitney?
                  I'd almost bet it was, Quentin, even in glass bottles.

                  Anyone have an early-50s J.C.Whitney catalog so we could check it out? BP
                  We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

                  Ayn Rand:
                  "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

                  G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I t probably ranked right up there with the VX-6!! No Battery could live without it!

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                    • #11
                      These old additives (and some of the modern ones, no doubt), make you wonder if the joke about "adding more blinker fluid" ever had a basis in truth.
                      '63 Lark Custom, 259 v8, auto, child seat

                      "Your friendly neighborhood Studebaker evangelist"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        When I was a young teenager working in an auto repair shop, we used Casite "Motor Honey" on every set of cam, rod and main bearings installed in a rebuilt motor.

                        Not on the pistons and rings though....just well oiled with regular motor oil.

                        Very similar to STP. Looks like it is still available at Advance and AutoZone.
                        David

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                        • #13
                          Given that STP was not marketed until 1954, it was not anyone's competition in 1951...
                          Last edited by Guido; 07-01-2012, 05:28 PM. Reason: Add smilie that didn't appear the first time...

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                          • #14
                            There's just as much snake oil today as there was 60 years ago. Mostly it's the same stuff, either it's kerosene "to clean things up", or it's polyisobutylene (STP) to gum things up. And of course you can buy cans of goop which will give you a rebuilt engine for $6.99.

                            However to rebuild worn gearboxes, there's always sawdust, and condensed milk to convert your tires to self-sealing.

                            I wonder how mechanics manage to stay in business.

                            Add any of these wonderful products to your engine and it will run 150K miles. Use good quality modern oil, nothing else, and it will run 300K. Your money, your choice.
                            Last edited by jnormanh; 07-01-2012, 02:48 PM.

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