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Choosing The Best Classic Car Lubricants

Classic Lubricants Published: 27th Apr 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Choosing The Best Classic Car Lubricants
Choosing The Best Classic Car Lubricants
Choosing The Best Classic Car Lubricants
Choosing The Best Classic Car Lubricants
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If you’re serious about your finished project, you’ll protect it with a proper classic oil. On the face of it, you’d rightly think that the newer, more advanced lube, then surely the better but this is not so because, after certain advanced specifications and formulations, it won’t protect your classic’s engine any better – in fact the opposite is more true.

A classic oil strikes the perfect balance for classic car lovers, providing current standards of blend quality but twinned with traditionally refined formulations appropriate for the eras these oils were intended for. Don’t confuse the issue with a cheap budget 20W/50; these are completely different and a waste of money due to their general low standards.

The classic oil scene is thriving because, in the case of engines particularly, the sheer cost of a proper overhaul – running into thousands or even five figures – means it’s folly to ruin all that good work by using a wrong oil – and with over 100 different blends, brands and news onto market, it’s easy to get it wrong and sentence your unit to a slow, painful and expensive death. While not half as complicated as the mainstream choices, you do need to speak to a classic oil specialist (Penrite, Millers Oils, Morris Lubricants, Valvoline, Castrol, and so on all have websites for advice) to see what is right for you and your classic and your type of motoring. Failing that, check out what your specialist repairer recommends.

For example, Porsche marketed its own line of classic engine oils (20W/50 and 10W/60) in 2015 dedicated to classic Porsche engines, which up to the 1970s required a special single-grade oil.

The GTX name, that’s 50 this year, is still around and welcome newcomers to the classic market include an old and very trusted name: Duckhams. An all British company, the group of British born entrepreneurs bought the brand and the company, Alexander Duckham and Co, from BP and the oil is blended, distributed and developed in the UK. Initially it is only available direct from; Q20W-50 and a pair of SAE 30 and 40 monogrades mainly for pre 1950 units, although during the year, classic and modern transmission oils and greases will also feature. With no distributor costs Duckhams is pricing a 5L pack of Q20W-50 at a highly competitive £29.99 delivered as you pay almost double this, depending on type and specification you specify.

Another respected name, Fuchs, has just relaunched a 12-strong range of engine and gear oils and is already gaining interest, as is Veedol, although Shell’s relaunched X100 is proving slow to catch on, says the trade who adds the most popular seller is the Halfords range, chiefly due to general availability more than its nominal specifications.

A high quality classic lube doesn’t come cheap but given what’s protecting, it’s cheap insurance as any reputable restoration specialist will tell you.

Best brews


These are just right for the era of your engine but have modern tech where it matters. Go for a known name and don’t confuse with cheap 20W/50s


For the majority of classic owners, these may be an expensive luxury unless your engine is tuned or wish to do competition or track day driving


Since the ’80s there’s been a ‘multigrade’ oil and a gradual switch to synthetics. Lighter lube may yield a crisper change but noise levels may increase as a result

Top five tips


Synthetics benefit being far more flexible than mineral oils, but one is probably paying for features that are not required. Also they may not suit oldies, unless you opt for a classic type: They will be lighter and thinner, and this will lead to low oil pressure and probably excessive consumption


If the classic is to be used sparsely or stored away for long periods then change the oil before laying up to ensure that fresh lube is protecting it

No smoke

A special engine oil to combat worn and smoky engines is marketed by No Smoke Oil; it’s a special lube requiring a flush and two oil and filter changes but it works


As oils have progressed, so have greases and transmission lubricants although as per engines, advanced lubes such as synthetic greases are largely unsuitable


A personal thing but no substitute for a good oil. One we can vouch for is Engine Restorer & Lubricant, marketed by Ametech; we tried it in an old MGB and it genuinely did seem to run smoother and quieter for a period

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