The Best Motor Oil for Your Vintage Car

If you own a vintage car, then you probably already take good care of it. So, there’s really no point in telling you to regularly maintain your car. However, what I would tell you—since many classic car owners tend to make this mistake—is not to treat your car’s engine like owners of modern cars do.

There’s a lot in favor of modern car owners that you do not have the luxury of. The cars produced after 2000 are very different from those manufactured in the five decades that preceded it. If you own a car from the 40s, 50s, or 60s era that you need a motor oil that is formulated specifically for engines built during those times.

If you don’t choose suitable motor oil for your vintage car, your vehicle can suffer from a host of problems ranging from an engine that performs poorly and burns fuels fast to the complete seizure of your engine.  You don’t want that, right? Of course, you don’t! So, how do you protect the engine of your classic car? By understanding the steps involved in choosing the right oil for your vintage car.

The Steps to Finding Suitable Motor Oil for Your Classic Car

Whether your vintage car is your hobby or a prized possession that you have inherited from your parents, it needs proper maintenance to stay on the road for many more years to come. It is your job to ensure your vintage car’s longevity. Perhaps, the most important step in this regard is to choose the right motor oil for your car. If you’re not sure how to begin, you can use the following 3 steps to choose motor oil for your car.

1. Understand Your Car

The first and foremost thing that you need to do to find the right motor oil for your vintage car is to get an understanding of your car. What does this mean? It means that you should research the types of oil that were being used during the era in which your vintage car was manufactured.

Read the service and owner’s manual that came with the car or talk to other people who still own the same car as you or owned it at some point in the past. When you do this, you will be able to find out the exact properties of the engine oil that was being used in your car back then. While you may not find the exact same oil today, you will know what properties a motor oil product needs to have for you to choose it for your car.

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2. Carefully Select Your Additives

One thing that I would recommend to all vintage car owners is that they must carefully the additives for their car. The reason I recommend this is because there are many additives on the market for cars, but also, a few of them are beneficial to the engines on vintage vehicles.

It is important for you to know that many of the additives that were present in engine oils of the decades gone by have been removed from motor oils for the benefit of modern-day cars. However, many of the additives that were removed are what allow the engine of countless vintage cars to function efficiently and keep the car on the road. Therefore, you must find out the additives that make your car perform optimally and the look for motor oil with these additives.

3. Keep Tabs on Your Motor Oil

Since vintage cars—or any car for the matter—won’t function without engine oil, you’re probably already using some motor oil for your car. However, since you’re here, I wouldn’t be wrong to assume that you are not too happy with it. Even if you are relatively satisfied with your current motor oil, you need to keep tabs on it to determine its efficacy.

How do you do this? Whenever you change your oil, make sure to check the condition of your oil. Unless you change your motor oil after more than 2 to 3 months of running, pieces of dirt and dissolved materials in the oil are never a good sign. The longer you let your car run on this oil, the bigger your problems will become. So, do the sensible thing and look for high-quality motor oils and transmission fluids right away.

The Motor Oils You Need for Your Vintage Car

If you’re wondering which motor oils today feature the properties and additives needed to keep your vintage car’s engine running optimally, then you need to stop thinking right now. This is because the following 3 motor oils meet all the requirements for a superior vintage car engine performance.

1. Castrol ATF

Ask any industry expert about the best motor oils or transmission fluids for vintage car and they will have the Castrol ATF engine oil as one of their recommendations. The main reason for this is that the Castrol ATF is consumer tested for the smooth shifting and high engine performance of vintage cars.

It meets all the specifications that allow a vintage engine to perform optimally. These include the requirements of Mercon and Dexron. It is also a great choice for classic car owners looking for a multi-purpose product that can power their vehicle’s engine while allowing them to too-off their transmission.

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  • Excellent friction durability
  • Consumer tested for smooth shifting and high performance
  • Meets requirements of Mercon and Dexron
  • Resistance against oxidation
  • Performs well at high temperatures


  • May not be compatible with engines on some classic cars

2. Royal Purple

The next motor oil that I recommend for your vintage car is the Royal Purple engine oil. This motor oil works exceptionally well in cars with manual transmissions. If you have a car that shifts manually but is recommended automatic transmission fluid, then the Royal Purple motor oil can be a good choice for you.  With this motor oil, you can minimize parasitic power loss in your engine, ensure smoother shifting, and get your car to work optimally at extreme temperatures.


  • Works exceptionally well with manual transmissions
  • Ideal for cars that shift manually but are recommended automatic transmission fluid
  • Minimizes parasitic power loss in your engine
  • Works well at extreme temperatures


  • It has some ingredients that are deemed unsafe for older vehicles and the environment

3. Mobil ATF

The third and final motor oil on my list of the best motor oils for vintage cars is the Mobil ATF engine oil. A product of the highly reputable and globally recognized company, the Mobil ATF is extremely powerful and it ensures quiet operation of both your engine and car.

An excellent automatic transmission fluid, the Mobil ATF performs optimally in a range of classic cars, including the older models of Volva, ford, and Toyota. Not only does this motor oil enable smoother shifting of your car, but it also increases the transmission life of your vehicle.


  • Ensures an extremely powerful engine performance
  • Excellent automatic transmission fluid
  • Ensures smooth shifting
  • Increases the transmission life of your vehicle


  • Can be a little expensive for some vintage car owners

Final Word

Depending on how you take care of it, your vintage car can be a source of pride or embarrassment for you. To be able to take pride in owning your classic car, you must maintain it properly, which requires choosing the right motor oil for it. You can keep your car in optimal condition by choosing a motor oil product or your vehicle from the list above.

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