Pennzoil: Popular Science Apr 1986

On the surface, the economics of this April 1986 promotion don’t seem to work out: a first-class stamp that year cost $.22, meaning a single-slip redemption would yield negative two cents. But then there’s the fine print stating a limit of 24 coupons: A customer who sent in all the slips from two cases of Pennzoil would pocket a cool $4.80. That’s great, but has nothing on the $25 rebate being offered for anyone purchasing 5 quarts or more of Pennzoil Ultra oil today.

Pennzoil: Popular Science May 1981

When this ad ran in May 1981, a changing of the guard was taking place: Johnny Rutherford had won his third Indy 500 the year before driving a Pennzoil Indy Car nicknamed “The Yellow Submarine.” Rutherford wouldn’t win another Indy 500, but Pennzoil won two more, in 1984 and 1988, with driver Rick Mears behind the wheel for both. Today, Rick Mears is still involved in racing, as driving coach to 3-time Indy 500 winner, Helio Castroneves. The oil they use? Still Pennzoil—the only off-the-shelf motor oil used in today’s Indy racecars*. *Team Penske IZOD Indy Car Series cars use Pennzoil Ultra 0W-40. Used under license from Penske Racing, Inc.

Pennzoil: Popular Science March 1961

It has an attention-grabbing headline. It mentions “excessive driving costs,” a timeless problem. And it includes a cartoon seemingly plucked from the pages of the New Yorker. But what secures this March 1961 ad a spot in the Pennzoil Pantheon is the key at the end of the last paragraph intended to help readers pronounce a seemingly phonetic brand name. These days such a guide is no longer necessary: according to a survey of licensed drivers conducted by a leading research firm from 2005-2010, Pennzoil is the most trusted name in motor oil*. * Based on a survey of licensed drivers conducted by a leading research firm. January 2005–December 2010.

Pennzoil: Popular Science May 1934

Pennzoil displayed a keen sense of timeliness by incorporating Union Pacific’s new passenger train, model number M-10000, in this May 1934 ad. It was unveiled in February 1934 as the first-ever train to feature an internal combustion engine, and it worked that motor—and its lubricant—hard during a more-than-21,000 mile yearlong publicity tour. Pennzoil no longer produces oil for locomotives, but that may be the only object with an engine that Pennzoil doesn’t target: its oils are available for boats, motorcycles and even power tools.

Pennzoil: Popular Science Sept 1988

Since he had already been a Pennzoil spokesperson for TK years by the time this ad ran in September of 1988, it’s believable that Arnold Palmer was on a first-name basis with readers. But The King having a complexion that smooth at 58 years old? Tougher to swallow. (Must be good moisturizer.) Today, Pennzoil continues its high-profile partnerships—the latest of which features county music superstar Tim McGraw touting the trademark yellow bottle.

Pennzoil: Popular Science Sept 1973

You know you’re back in the muscle car heyday of 1973 when someone is asking a question about his (or her, could be a her) 455 engine and it’s plausibly not a #humblebrag. As everyone knows, 455 is equivalent to a 7.4L engine—one that’s 120% the size of the 2012 Corvette’s 6.2L V8 block.

Pennzoil: Popular Science Oct 1975

There isn’t much apparent concern for sperm whales in this 1975 ad, and there’s presumably less in 1971 Plymouth service manuals. But there is a bright spot: the endangered species law that’s mentioned forced automakers to look for alternative sources of oil. They found a keeper in the jojoba plant, which produces a seed containing a waxy substance that works as a suitable lubricant. Safe bet that neither whale oil nor jojoba seed extract will be used in your car if you take it to Jiffy Lube, though, considering Pennzoil acquired the chain in the early 1990s.

Pennzoil: Popular Science July 1963

During the twentieth century, conventional wisdom dictated that you change your oil every 3,000 miles or 60 days (with increased frequency if you really work your car hard). But thanks to Pennzoil motor oil’s Active Cleansing Agents, which take protection to the next level by removing the sludge and debris that builds up in an engine, drivers can now go longer between changes. How often depends on the type of car you own and how you drive it. That’s why, in 2011, Jiffy Lube (a subsidiary of Pennzoil) introduced an Oil Change Schedule plan that tailors your oil change routine to your specific driving habits.

Pennzoil: Popular Science June 1934

Any time a guy purports to accurately gauge the speed of a hustling car while observing from the back of a moving train, you have to be skeptical. Other than that, this seems like a perfectly normal conversation for three gentlemen to be having during their morning commute.

Pennzoil: Popular Science Apr 1976

The April 1976 issue of PopSci featured a cover story about synthetic oils and included two different ads for Pennzoil products inside: a standard “People Write To Pennzoil” that touts the merits of its non-synthetic oil, and one describing Pennz-Guard, a spray lubricant. Alas, only one of those two offerings survives today: the trademark on “Pennz Guard” expired in early 2006. But that doesn’t mean the company got out of the protection game: Pennzoil’s multipurpose 705 white grease offers a lot of the same defensive qualities, albeit no longer in spray form.

Pennzoil: Popular Science Aug 1934

It may have been a cause for celebration in August of 1934, but the idea of an 18-hour flight from New York to Los Angeles wouldn’t elicit quite as much glee from commuters in 2012. Fortunately, planes have a bit more get-up-and-go these days: The Pennzoil-lubricated aircraft from the 30s cruised at 180 mph. New planes? More than 550 mph—and there’s a good chance they’re lubricated by one of the 10 aviation oils producted by Pennzoil’s parent company, Shell.

Pennzoil: Popular Science Feb 2010

We don’t all have a Ferrari in our garage. (Yet.) But we do all want to treat our car as though it was one. There’s no better way to show your car that you care than with Pennzoil Ultra and its unparalleled levels of cleansing and protection. Not working with a Ferrari-sized budget? Don’t fret: every type of Pennzoil motor oil, from conventional up to full synthetics, will make sure your engine is well cared-for. (And if you are working with a Ferrari-sized budget, a set of assembly-line arms in your garage isn’t too shabby of an idea, either.)

Pennzoil: Popular Science May 2011

Brett Willis describes himself as a car enthusiast and a father—and in many ways, those two jobs involve the same responsibilities. Just as Brett keeps his son healthy and strong by providing him with nutritious meals, he’s also clearly focused on giving his car only products of the highest quality. By sticking with Pennzoil brand motor oils, Brett’s ensuring that his car will still be going strong when his son becomes old enough to drive it. And with that kind of classic automobile awaiting him on his 16th birthday, it’s a safe bet that Brett’s son will forgive Brett for listing himself as a car enthusiast first, and a father second.