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  1. #1

    Question '58 Bonneville Motor Oil

    Hi all,

    I would like clarification on motor oil for my '58. I bought some NAPA 30w non-detergent as the quart stated for use in car engines prior to '63.

    I am getting ready to make a 700 mile trip as soon as my interior is finished this month and want to carry this to ensure the oil stays at proper capacity.

    I'm wondering about why non-detergent and whether NAPA 30w High Performance with detergent is a substitute? Didn't detergent oils appear in the late 50's? Plenty of 50's cars were being driven in the 60's when I think detergent oils were common.

    Also any insight about the zinc levels, both in NAPA's 30w as well as what I should use, if important. Does the detergent affect the zinc properties? I get conflicting comments from parts store guys and my restore guy says use any 30w. I think 800 was a low-end zinc # and 1200 is a good # for a car like mine. I looked at the NAPA MSDS info and it's not shown. Maybe a higher zinc # is only really needed for break-in but I'm thinking it should be a consideration for my engine.

    Any clarifying comments are welcome and appreciated.



  2. #2
    TININDN Guest



    Was the age of the engine - original or rebuilt - and if rebuilt how long ago? And, what oil have you or the previous owners been using?

  3. #3


    The engine is original, I have no idea what oil was used, couldn't get records or find previous owner info. Bought the car from a classic car dealer and he didn't know anything. My restore guy had the valve covers off and it was very clean in there. He thinks detergent oil was used for some amount of time. I'm planning to change the oil filter mount to a spin off adapter.

  4. #4
    TININDN Guest



    I run diesel oil in all my classic Pontiac engines - either Mobile Delvac or Shell Rotella. These are detergent oils commonly available as 15W40, but Rotella is also sold as straight 30 weight.

    You could spend a whole night on the internet reading about zinc/phosphorus levels in conventional, synthetic and diesel oils.

    Here's a link to Mobil that speaks to ZDDP levels in conventional versus diesel oils.

    There are additives available to boost zinc levels and have been discussed elsewhere on this forum.

  5. #5


    I agree with the above. I run 15w40 in all my old cars, or synthetic 10w40

    I would never ever ever run non-detergent motor oil in my 58 Pontiacs. Flushing your engine, running a proper motor oil and changing the filter will assure you a better engine, than using non detergent and building up sludge and crud in your engine.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Portland In


    The biggest issue is if your engine has a deposit buildup if it does then running a detergent oil will break this loose and it will move thru the engine possibly plugging up galleries / the filter / orat the least running debris thru the bearings.

    Pull a valve cover. if it's clean inside run Rotella. if it's got buildup then run the nondetergent until it's time for a rebuild. In an engine that old, especially in warm climates, I reccomend straight 30w.

    Order a case of the nondetergent oil and carry it with you if that's what you choose to run.


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