Right from the beginning, Porsche’s air-cooled engines gained a reputation for sturdiness and reliability. But a crucial part of the formula was always the quality of the motor oil, which helped keep the engines cool as well as lubricating them.
Modern lightweight, high-detergent motor oils are designed for the needs of today’s engines, but fall short in protecting and preserving the classic horizontally opposed Porsche engines.
To help owners of vintage 356s, 914s and 911s keep their cars on the road, Porsche Cars North America has launched its own blend of motor oil specially blended for the needs of the air-cooled engines. Porsche switched to liquid cooling starting in 1998.
Porsche Classic Motor Oil is a high-viscosity hydrocracked mineral oil formulated for compatibility with the old alloy engines, with such additives as zinc and phosphorous to protect against wear and corrosion. The oil has been laboratory tested, Porsche says, to ensure that it will stand up to high temperatures as well as helping to preserve engines in collector cars that are only occasionally driven.
“The older flat engines in particular can’t just use any old oil,” Porsche Classic says in a news release. “The development of an engine oil for classic air-cooled flat engines has therefore been something akin to a balancing act between tradition and innovation: as advanced as possible and as traditional as necessary.”
There are two varieties of the Porsche Classic oil, a 20W-50 blend for flat-four engines in the 356 and 914, and six-cylinder engines in 911 models up to 2.7 liters; and 10W-60 for air-cooled flat-six 911 engines from 3.0 liters and up.
Those high viscosities might seem pretty thick by today’s standards, but according the Porsche, the multi-blend ratings are more compatible with the engines designs of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.
Pricing is around $12 per liter at Porsche dealerships, and it also should be available from vintage Porsche parts outlets.
As a bonus for Porsche fans, the containers are attractive enough to put on display.