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Classic cars classic oils? #5313842 01/05/20 12:20 PM
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slybunda Offline OP
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So iv seen many sites selling whats called classic car oil. Usually its 20w50.
If you own an older car made in the 1960s does that mean you have to use oil technology from that period?


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Re: Classic cars classic oils? [Re: slybunda] #5313857 01/05/20 12:38 PM
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Alot of cars from the '60's used 10w40 wt. Today's oils are worlds better then what was available then. The only thing to watch for is oils that can cause excessive cam lobe wear. I forget which ingredient you want it to be high in, I'm thinking moly. A motorcycle rated oil might cover that issue.,,,

Re: Classic cars classic oils? [Re: slybunda] #5313863 01/05/20 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by slybunda
If you own an older car made in the 1960s does that mean you have to use oil technology from that period?

no.

Most oils are backward compatible. Meaning you can use newer oil on older machines.
That being said, there's a few additives you can purchase for older engines which benefit from anti-wear additives such as Moly or Zinc that are not required for newer engines.
Most anti-wear additives are found in many diesel motor oils, Rotella T4 being one of them.
Downside to diesel oils is they tend to have a detergent package that some believe is too harsh on gasoline engines.


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Re: Classic cars classic oils? [Re: slybunda] #5313896 01/05/20 01:40 PM
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andyd Offline
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Engines of 50s era had larger tolerances. For that reason alone, I'd use 20w50 or at least a 10w30 or a 30 or 40w HD. Checking the oil at every fillup was a good practice in those days grin2


'16 Camry LE STP synth 0w20 and STP filter. the Fridge

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Re: Classic cars classic oils? [Re: slybunda] #5313897 01/05/20 01:41 PM
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I have several late 40’s flat heads and run 10w-30 HDEO in them. Most are dual rated (CK-4, SN).

If you have a worn engine with low oil pressure would be the only reason to jump up to heavier oil.


'15 F350 6.7
Re: Classic cars classic oils? [Re: slybunda] #5313899 01/05/20 01:49 PM
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Oils marked "Classic" or green metal cans for 60's & 70's cars are normally group 1 oils with old tech additives that generate a lot of profit for the brand owners. If you have an old car using oil or very low oil pressure, fix it?
Some say different.


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Re: Classic cars classic oils? [Re: slybunda] #5313906 01/05/20 02:13 PM
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There is no reason to use anything fancier than Rotella, Valvoline Premium Blue, Delo or Valvoline VR-1 in 10w-30 or 15w-40 in older engines unless you have a specific goal to achieve or a problem to work around. Or because you simply want something “special”.

Lots of guys I know with the local antique machinery club run Delo or Rotella 15w-40 in their antique tractors no matter if they are show rigs or working tractors.


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Re: Classic cars classic oils? [Re: slybunda] #5313926 01/05/20 02:39 PM
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ofelas Offline
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I've had excellent oil analysis results running Amsoil's 10w30 ZRT in 60's big block Chryslers.


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Re: Classic cars classic oils? [Re: ofelas] #5313933 01/05/20 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by ofelas
I've had excellent oil analysis results running Amsoil's 10w30 ZRT in 60's big block Chryslers.

I’ll be using that or Dominator 10w-30 in the FE for the Torino when it’s done. Was using VR-1. Sometimes even Valvoline white jug.

Using Valvoline Premium Blue in the ‘47 Ford tractor at the moment but going to Valvoline white jug 10w-40 for a few years since I picked it up super cheap.


1969 Ford Torino GT 390 Auto
2003 Mercury Marauder
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2000 Nissan Xterra
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1978 Honda XL75
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Re: Classic cars classic oils? [Re: slybunda] #5313936 01/05/20 03:02 PM
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The muscle cars with the high performance cams and stiffer valve springs like the 375 hp 396, boss 302,426 hemi may eat the cam if todays SN oils are used. Those cars need more ZDDP to protect their cams and lifters.

The regular run of the mill engines should be fine on the SN oil.


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Re: Classic cars classic oils? [Re: Chris142] #5313954 01/05/20 03:37 PM
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Not just engines with higher spring rates, while that certainly does exacerbate the cam lobe wear issue. Anything using rocker arms can be very hard on cam lobes because of the pressure multiplying effects of the rocker arm ratio.


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Re: Classic cars classic oils? [Re: slybunda] #5313967 01/05/20 04:05 PM
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I've got a 67 Camaro 250 six and it seems to do fine with Pennzoil Platinum 5W30. I change it every three years.

Re: Classic cars classic oils? [Re: slybunda] #5313968 01/05/20 04:09 PM
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This really depends on the particular engine in question. If it's a stock engine with a stock cam, any API SN/SN+ oil will be fine. If it has an aftermarket cam with flat tappet lifters, you'll want a cam with more ZDDP (>1,000 ppm Zn).

I ran Amsoil Z-Rod 10w-30 when I had my '66 Mustang. If I still had it, I'd probably be using Driven GP-1 10w-30. The bearing clearances from that era weren't really wider, but had a wider tolerance. I've seen them be as tight as .0010" and as wide as .0026" from OEM. I would use a 30 grade so long as you have sufficient oil pressure. If the oil pressure is wanting to fall below 15 psi or so at hot idle, I'd go to a 40 grade.


"He who is without oil, shall throw the first rod." - Compressions 9:1
Re: Classic cars classic oils? [Re: andyd] #5313972 01/05/20 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by andyd
Engines of 50s era had larger tolerances. For that reason alone, I'd use 20w50 or at least a 10w30 or a 30 or 40w HD. Checking the oil at every fillup was a good practice in those days grin2


Funny I just re-maned a 67 buick 340-4 block and the crank pins checked out at 0.0022 > .0.0023 which is a one-thousandth running clearance. I did clean up some pins on a ford 351 and that had a wide tolerance of almost a thou instead of a 1/2 thou or less.

That's about the best you can do given block distortion and crank harmonics.

I think I've seen some honda's running under a thou, I have never measured the bearing width or dia on those.
I might guess they need to be a tad wider and possibly fatter to work with the 20 grade low HTHS oil


Piston tech has moved a bit with the silicon hypereutectec and plasma moly short skirts but I'm hearing more noise with them.

Oh and I forgot , we tore into this "low mileage" engine to check out an odd noise.

It had two wiped cam lobes. Car had under 70K on it.

That's with high ZDDP oil and over the nose of under 160 lbs!

So after its broken in I'd go for the moly.

Race cam you should have roller followers. But.

"Motorcycle" and ATV 4T oil has HIgh ZDDP and is a light 40 grade.

its usually API S- rated in to the (now obsolete) high zinc period of pre SL

Perfect !


Last edited by ARCOgraphite; 01/05/20 04:48 PM.

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Re: Classic cars classic oils? [Re: slybunda] #5313997 01/05/20 04:50 PM
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The main issue is flat tappet camshafts with higher than stock valve spring pressure and/or higher lift ratios.
Shell Rorella T 15w40 used to do the trick, but I would not trust it any longer.
I have 2 classics with original engines; they need about 1200 ppm Zinc.

I recommend reviewing this analysis:
Flat tappet oils

If I ever pull apart one of these engines again I will stab a hydralic roller and be done with it.
And run 10w30.

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Last edited by JeffKeryk; 01/05/20 04:51 PM.

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