The use of modern fuel in classic cars is a topic that has garnered attention as automotive fuel formulations have evolved over the years. Classic cars, generally defined as vehicles that are at least 20-25 years old, were designed and built in an era when leaded petrol was common and engines were not equipped with the same technologies as modern vehicles. Here's a brief overview of the story behind the use of modern fuel in classic cars:
Leaded vs. Unleaded Fuel:
Many classic cars were designed to run on leaded petrol, which contained tetraethyl lead as an octane booster and to reduce engine knocking. However, lead is a toxic substance, and its use in gasoline was phased out in the 1970s and 1980s due to environmental and health concerns. Modern gasoline is universally unleaded.
Effects of Unleaded Fuel on Classic Cars:
The transition from leaded to unleaded fuel raised concerns among classic car owners and enthusiasts. Without lead, older engines could experience valve seat recession, a condition where the contact between the valve and the valve seat is eroded over time. This can lead to reduced engine performance and increased wear.
Modern fuel also comes with different octane ratings. Classic cars might have been designed for lower-octane fuels than what is commonly available today. Using a fuel with too high an octane rating may not be harmful, but it might not provide any additional benefits, and it could potentially lead to carbon buildup in the engine.
Another factor that has changed in modern fuel is the inclusion of ethanol. Many modern fuels contain ethanol, which can have implications for classic cars, particularly those with older fuel systems. Ethanol has different properties than petrol and can cause issues such as corrosion in fuel systems not designed to handle it.
Adapting Classic Cars to Modern Fuel:
To address these challenges, some classic car owners take steps to adapt their vehicles to modern fuel. This may involve using lead substitutes or additives designed to protect against valve seat recession. Additionally, some owners modify their fuel systems to accommodate ethanol or use specialised fuels that are ethanol-free.
For classic cars that are not driven regularly, fuel stabilisation becomes important. Modern fuels can degrade over time, leading to varnish and other issues in the fuel system. Using fuel stabilisers or draining the fuel system for long-term storage can help mitigate these problems.
In summary, while modern fuel is different from what classic cars were originally designed for, various measures can be taken to adapt and maintain these vintage vehicles for today's fuel standards. Classic car enthusiasts often find ways to strike a balance between preserving the authenticity of their vehicles and ensuring they run reliably on modern fuels....
If you need any advice on what fuel to use or un-leaded conversions, please do let us know.