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Pennzoil Lubrication Time at the Biltmore Garage


This series of photos was taken by the Dick Whittington Studio for the Pennzoil Oil Company. The images were taken for the company to help in promoting its engine oils, chassis grease, and equipment in 1931. A circa 1928 Packard Roadster is seen above up on a hydraulic lift being greased, at the same time the engine oil is being drained into a fifty-five gallon drum on wheels. The location was the Biltmore Garage in the Los Angeles. 

USC2      USC3      USC4

The operator in the above left photo, is showing the Pennzoil “Master Lubrication Guide” to the Packard owner to assure him that his car will be correctly lubricated. The center photo shows all of the equipment necessary, and in the right photo the Packard gets a fresh supply of engine oil. Just below is a Pennzoil sign and a rack carrying glass oil bottles topped with metal pouring spouts, it demonstrated the company’s setup on the gas pump island at the Biltmore. This time another Packard on the right, a 1929 is used for a backdrop.


Pennzoil describes the early history and the start of the company as follows: “It was 1889. The world’s first billion-barrel oil field was discovered in Bradford, Pennsylvania, and South Penn was born. One of John D. Rockefeller’s original companies under Standard Oil, South Penn developed Bradford field and by 1908, around the time Henry Ford’s Model T hit the road, began producing their flagship line of motor oils. They named the oils “Penn’s Oil” in 1913 and soon thereafter renamed them Pennzoil, with the distinctive image of the Liberty Bell to reinforce their Pennsylvania heritage”. 

6 responses to “Pennzoil Lubrication Time at the Biltmore Garage

  1. Hmmm, the Packard on the rack in the 1st picture sure is a beauty, but it seems like it has no wheel droop at all ! Did the rack support it under the suspension, or what ? Looks like this would have been a really low car otherwise. I want it, of course, ha !

    • John, This type of lift used four sliding pads that were moved under each axle and lifted the car up by them, as you suspected. I used one of these lifts in an earlier shop and it was quite handy.

  2. I would bet the Biltmore Garage is still there, if it were part of the Biltmore Hotel, which is still going strong.

  3. I’ve looked for verification for that sign for years! Straight text with a rounded P and O and no highlighting on the lettering penetrating the bell. This tells me the sign is at least from 1931 and probably older unless they just got it brand new. It’s a rare one.

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