Piston Slap: Shell Games

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

TTAC Commentator Golden2husky writes:

I have a Piston Slap question for you. Does anybody out there in the main office (or any of the B&B perhaps) recall “Shell of the Future” gasoline. I grew up on Long Island, New York and in the early ’70s Shell introduced a gasoline called “Shell of the Future” which was just unleaded gas. This fuel was dispensed from a baby blue pump and was sold a few years before the national roll-out of lead free gas. My dad tried a couple of tanks of it, but the car detonated due to a too low octane rating, or so he said. I asked him just recently and he clearly recalls it. Nobody else seems to recall this product. I have Googled and Binged this to no avail. So, am I living a dream?’

Sajeev answers:

Automotive history is littered with ideas like “Shell of the Future” gasoline. When the “science” of R&D and marketing come together, the by-product is sometimes half-baked ideas with a limited shelf life. Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order:

Amoco’s line of “clear” gasolines in the 1990s

The 1956 Dodge La Femme (Sassy!)

“NO SKID” treaded tires from the early 1900’s

Aftermarket CHMSL (center high mounted stop light) conversion kits from 1986

Anything from a vintage JC Whitney catalog

The blatant greenwashing of Ford’s thirsty TwinForce V6, a la EcoBoost.

Since I wasn’t even born in the early 1970s, I’m keeping my mouth shut about your particular question. Off to you, Best and Brightest.

[Send your queries to mehta@ttac.com]

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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4 of 18 comments
  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Aug 31, 2009

    Thanks to Stickman's link, my memory's been jogged. Yes, I remember the stuff, but there were VERY FEW Shell stations that carried it in Mass/RI, and I don't think it was available nationwide, just the northeast. Per the ad in Stickman's link, the 91 octane cited was before the R+M/2 formula used today, and was the cheap stuff. I used 95 octane from Atlantic (later combined with Richfield to form Atlantic-Richfield Company=ARCO) in the late '60's in a 330 cid Olds, because the low 90's stuff would make the engine ping. You're not dreaming.

  • Nikita Nikita on Aug 31, 2009

    I worked at a Shell station in the 1970's in California and never saw it. Note in that St. Pete Times ad linked above they talk about TCP. Similar to Platformate, TCP stands for Tri-Catalytic Process, used by all refiners, not just Shell. This Nitrogen thing is in the long tradition of Shell marketing hype. Chevron had "F-310" and TV ads with one car emitting smoke and the other clear exhaust. Does anyone remember ARCO Graphite oil? I think it failed in the marketplace because it looked dirty right out of the can. Yes can, not bottle.

  • Sajeev Mehta Sajeev Mehta on Sep 01, 2009

    Stickman saves the day! I had no idea Google News did this!!!

  • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Sep 01, 2009

    Stickman, thanks for the link. I was really little back then, and I barely remembered it. But now I know I am not losing my mind. And no, texlovera, no subversive attempt attempted. I'm willing to bet that "binged" is not of my making...