By on October 23, 2012

For the first time, I am worried that gasoline is at the end of its life cycle. Gas pumps already have landed in the museum.

From a 1930s pump used to fuel Benito Mussolini’s private fleet of cars to a pump used for cigarette lighter refills; the Museo Fisogni in Milan is the most complete collection about the service station (as per the Guinness World Record 2001). Gas pumps even have their own genre in the world of collectibles. They are called “petroliana,” says the Wall Street Journal.

The Museo Fisogni , owned by Guido Fisogni, is in a warehouse near Milan (Italy), but it is  looking for a new home. Next time you are in Italy, drop by. The only thing the museum does not have is gas for your car.

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29 Comments on “The Gas Station – Ripe For The Museum?...”


  • avatar
    Angus McClure

    I think the term service station is also obsolete. I do distinctly remember when there was a rationale for calling it that. Can’t say that I miss it terribly but when given a choice for years I would go inside to pay just to get the human interaction. Don’t do it anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      Commando

      You’re obviously very young. Go inside to pay???
      Service stations meant you never got out of your car.

      • 0 avatar
        Angus McClure

        I can’t remember service stations very much before 1950 or maybe the late 40s. You could just set in your car if you chose. When I first started driving there had just started to be a choice to go self service and the cut rate stations were just about all that way. I formed my habits there and went inside to pay by choice for quite some time afterwards.

        Young is relative. I’m probably on the older side of the spectrum but that’s what I remember. Started driving about 1958 or 1959. Have the CRS syndrome now.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      There is an honest to goodness service station where I live. I pull up over a rubber hose, the bell dings, and someone comes out to fill my tank up.

      I go there because its the only place that sells ethanol free gasoline. My car gets more than enough better mileage with it to make up for the price differential of having someone pump the gas for me.

      They work on cars there too, and surprisingly sell a few cars there a month as well.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    IMHO older gas pumps are in museums for their historical significance and nostalgia. Nostalgia for a “service station” that would pump your gas and could add fluids and do minor maintenance.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Plus, before there were standardized requirements and inspections for pumps, people would eyeball the gasoline in those glass jars on top of the pump to see the quality and volume of the gasoline they pumped.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    You mean pretty soon we’ll have to go to a museum for gas? The nearest museum to me is really out of my way to and from work, and I didn’t see a gas pump there the last time I looked ;-}

    I do think the older gas pumps with the little glass bubble and propeller-thingy that would spin when pumping was cool, along with the little bell that would ring every 10 cents or so – and that is what I miss.

    I have always wanted to operate one of the REALLY old pumps with the glass tops that resembled street lights like the Atlantic Richfield green pumps above – you really HAD to pump your gas!

    Keep looking ahead. Always keep looking ahead…

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      It’s all part of a secret Obama conspiracy to learn you some culture, which, as everyone knows, turns you into a Democrat.

      Romney better hope America can avoid filling up with gas until after the elections.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    No! Tell me it ain’t true….

    Why, on the kitchen counter I even have a little jar of Shell V-Power that I sniff every morning just to get things going properly for the day…(^_^)…

    —————–

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      My grandmother gave me a wine bottle of Prudhoe Bay crude she got when she worked at an oil company HQ back in the early 1980s. It’s got a great label and very few people give it even a second glace when browsing my wine rack. “Oh, that’s a wine I don’t recognize… Got any Merlot?”

      Hold it up to the light and it could easily pass for a dark red wine.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    (Incidentally, converting one of those to an EV charger could be cool, as long as it was internally mechanically not worth restoring)

    • 0 avatar
      protomech

      Brammo installed two J1772 plugs at a restaurant near their HQ in an old gasoline pump. See about halfway down the review.

      http://hellforleathermagazine.com/2012/08/brammo-empulse-the-electric-motorcycle-has-finally-arrived/

  • avatar
    -Cole-

    The current dictators will die the same way Mussolini did.

    • 0 avatar
      bolhuijo

      haha, everyone is having a nice stroll down automotive nostalgia lane, and you come up with that? Who crapped in your Cheerios this morning?

      • 0 avatar
        dutch45810

        Speaking of Cheerios and Mussolini, my grandfather always tried to get me to slow down my eating, using “Mussolini chewed his milk” as an example. Always thought that was an odd example, but Grandpa was stationed in Italy in WW2, so I guess it was fresh on his mind.

  • avatar
    stickhatch

    What is this “Service Station” you speak of? Is this an ancient relative of the modern Automated Gas Telling Machine? To fuel my car, I roll up, pop my card in the box, punch some numbers, the machine dispenses the requested amount of fuel, I don’t have to look any human beings in the eye, and I drive away!

    • 0 avatar
      Angus McClure

      @stickhatch: Gas stations used to be called service stations. You had an employee who checked the fluids in the engine compt while giving you your gas. Thats how it was when I was very young.

      Later you got the choice of a self service land or full service lane. It was cheaper to do your own.

      Now computers register everything and you do the work. Lots of folks never check their oil or water etc so not all are truly capable. However, I haven’t truly missed the service station for years.

      At bolhuijo: +1

      • 0 avatar
        johnny ro

        Cars used to leak. A lot.

      • 0 avatar
        johnny ro

        Cars used to leak. A lot.
        DI started pumping gas at my Grand dad’s Mobil place when I was 4. Clapboard exterior, many layers of white paint with red trim, narrow drive through one-car awning with posts holding it up. Eastern LI. Lingering remains of old general store offerings inside from my Dad’s heyday.

        I sat on shrinking stacks of oil in cardboard cases waiting for next car. 30 wt, 40 wt, 10 and 20 wt, later on 10w30 then finally Mobil 1. We sold a lot of oil, all poured into the cars. Cardboard oil quarts, with metal spout to jab in. Sold the drippings for 15 cents a quart – had some ATF in it. Pneumatically operated bell.

        -Hello Sir, would you like regular, mid or high test?
        -Who said that?
        -Me sir.
        -Oh. OK, gimme 2 bucks worth.
        -Yessir, Please pull forward to the regular pump. (5 gallons for $2)

        I remember refusing $4 Mobil 1 to a girl with a Pinto, it dripped 2 quarts a week, on one tank of gas. She had a haemoraging valve cover gasket. I ran the cover nuts down for free while the drip bottle oil went in. They were loose, but I did not do the gasket job. Just a gas pumper. I wanted to tell her to get a boyfriend to fix her car but felt off base on that.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    I recall the gas pumps in Spain in the late 1950s when my family lived there. The pump was elegant in its simplicity. At the top of the pump tower were two 1-liter glass jars. The pump (either worked manually or by an electric motor) would fill one of the jars. Then a valve would switch, allowing the first jar to empty into the fill hose leading to the car’s gas tank while the second jar was being pumped full of gasoline.
    A counter kept track of how many jars were filled. If I recall correctly, there were two grades of gasoline sold: 70 octane and 90 octane. Although not all stations had the 90 octane.

  • avatar

    The Gilmore Car Museum (north of Kalamazoo, highly recommended) houses some of it’s petroliana collection in an accurate reproduction of a 1930s vintage Shell station.

    gilmorecarmuseum.org/html/content_page.php?content_id=14

    Gas pumps are so collectible that you can now buy reproduction glass globes.

  • avatar
    George B

    Can’t remember the last time I bought gasoline at a business that also offered any kind of automobile maintenance. Instead I buy gasoline at businesses with more than 10 separate pumps that directly accept electronic payment, a roof over the pumps, and a business on the same parking lot that sells beverages and food. At the discount places where I shop, the store brand has no connection to the oil industry.

  • avatar
    BigMeats

    The more impersonal, the better. I dread having to go inside the mart part for a snack or a soda. Especially at night, the first thing I do is find the rear exit and then watch for any car full of ‘youths’ to pull up close to the entrance.

    Snark if you will, I’ve looked down gun barrels before.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I never was robbed as a customer, but I had the crap scared out of me once, about 33 years ago. On the way home from work, I pulled in and filled up. I knew the guy working there, so he just let me fill up without paying first. I went in to shoot the breeze and pay up, and then I went back to my truck. I got in and, I don’t know how I didn’t see him before I got in, but I didn’t, this guy is sitting in the passenger seat, not a huge guy, but big enough that I really didn’t want to fight him. I jumped like I had been hit with a cattle prod, and said, “Get out!”. He says, “Hey man, just give me a ride to the bus station!”. I said, “Get out!”, and he just looked at me with a smirk on his face. I got angry, and decided to make sure he got out, so I pulled my coat back, showing him the .357 on my hip (I was a security guard at a Vegas hotel), and said, “How bad do you want a ride?? GET OUT!”. His eyes about popped out of his head and he bailed out, yelling, “Whoa whoa whoa!!”. Since then, I watch anyone near me, and make sure I lock up before I go in anywhere, and make sure nobody is in the car, front and back both.

  • avatar
    mcs

    Check out this old station in Amherst NH. Go into google maps and search on “103 Boston Post Road, Amherst, New Hampshire, United States” and go into street view. I think the pumps still work. The roads leading into this village are really awesome as well. If you have any sort of classic car, this is a great place for a photo.

  • avatar
    Scribe39

    S-i-i-g-h. I too am of the Cro-Magnon era, and well remember getting my 20-gallon tank filled for a five-dollar bill. Pull onto the apron and over the bell hose. By the time I turned off the engine, the attendant was using a little squirt bottle and paper towels to clean my windshield. You could get your radiator and tires checked free as well. If you were there for an oil change (at your 2,000-mile interval) the oil was drawn from a barrel into a metal container with the pour spout anchored at the bottom. Unhinge the spout, and into the car with the oil. Oh, the memories!

    • 0 avatar
      npbheights

      $5.00 for 20 gallons of gas? If that was in 1964 or earlier, that was A LOT on money!! If you would have saved your $5.00 in quarters back then, it would buy you over 30 gallons of gasoline today.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        My friend, $5.50 filled my 20 gallon tank up to March, 1973 – in the Sacramento valley, NORTHERN CALIFORNIA! Regular gas was around 23.9¢ – 25.9¢ per gallon for regular at the time. March, 1973 was when the first oil shock hit. Regular hit 31.9¢ overnight and pretty much stayed there. That was a HUGE shock at the time. Things really fell apart that September, and it’s been downhill ever since.

      • 0 avatar
        protomech

        $0.319 in 1973 adjusted for inflation is $1.66 today.


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