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1938 Chrysler Gets the Royal Treatment by Standard Oil Co. of Wisconsin

Today’s lead image gives us an excellent view of an Art Moderne design Standard Oil was using for new service stations at the time. The style of the architecture and signage used characterized the especially bold outlines in vogue at the time. This set of promotional photos were taken for the Oil Company or a distributor by James Blair Murdoch on April 13, 1939, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The 1938 Chrysler “Royal” convertible was an entry level Model C-18 powered by a 6-cyl., L-head 241.5 c.i. “Gold Seal” engine producing 95-h.p. at 3600 r.p.m. Period ads listed its price at $1085 and stressed its fuel economy of over 22 m.p.g. with the optional overdrive.

The enlargeable images that follow give a very rare view of all of the pumps and displays used in an up-to-date gasoline station in the Spring of 1939. The photos are courtesy of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

1938 Crysler Royal convertible

  • The Standard Oil station attendant fills the Chrysler with regular “Stanolind” gasoline while the models watch. 

Standard Oil Gasoline station 1939

  • The “Stanolind” pump gets its light and pump globe serviced and cleaned. In the center is a Standard “Red Crown” pump and on the far-right the high-test “Solite Gasoline with Ethyl.” This image includes a gasoline pump “merchandiser” on the far-left.

Standard Oil Gasoline station

  • This image gives a rare view of the automobile sundries sold from this lighted display cabinet. The top shelf features a Champion advertising piece, and it and the second shelf have a display of  the makers spark plugs. The third shelf carries EZ1 chrome cleaner and a Johnson’s wax product. The forth shelf contains Warner “Radiator Cleaner,” and “Liquid Solder” radiator stop-leak.        

Standard Oil Service Man

  • The station attendant adds a quart of Quaker State Motor Oil to the engine in a Packard sedan. 

9 responses to “1938 Chrysler Gets the Royal Treatment by Standard Oil Co. of Wisconsin

  1. WOW, does this ever hit a nerve/memory. I grew up in Milwaukee, and gas stations were a very personal thing. For what ever reason, you developed a relationship with the station owner, after all, they were responsible for making your driving possible. When I was a kid, my old man got gas ( and service) exclusively at a Standard gas station called “Copeland’s Standard”, located on Sherman Ave. and Keefe Ave. on the north side. It was far from the pristine station you see here, and Wally Copeland was a character. It was my 1st introduction to the “service bay” and was an utter mess, and that smell of gear lube and fumes permeated the air, as I stood there watching Wally as he fiddled with the old man’s cars. The candy bars were inside by the cash register, and had my share. I believe, it even had an outside lift, along with the 2 inside. Wally always had these greasy overalls on, and the dirtiest fingernails in town. After he passed away, his son took over, and it wasn’t the same. I see a “Milwaukee Public Library” sign, but they had many branches, but the lettering on the service truck, appears to say “Villard Ave.” and the “HI” ( Hilltop) prefix to the telephone number would confirm the far north side of Milwaukee location. Thanks for the wonderful memories of my youth, and I bet Wally Copeland is in gas station heaven, still bent over a fender with those greasy overalls on.

    • Howard, those are great memories. I too have them of my youth here in upstate NY. Diffenbach’s Chevron right on the Main St. in this little town was my first encounter with the world of service stations. The was a older gentleman who worked there who had retired from IBM and was just doing a part time gig there. He was a character ol’ Frank. He told me stories of his WWI days as a submariner. What a life this guy had.

      I also remember the neat clean customer waiting room off the bay area (Dif had two bays) and the smell of gasoline around the pumps. Gas had a very different smell back them. It wasn’t foul like today. It was more on the sweet side. There’s more I could say about that but that’s not for this blog. We come here to remissness and enjoy those days from yesterday. Thanks David for posting.

  2. Like Howard and JSFury, I too have those memories that today’s young boys and young men will not have. I feel sorry for them. Photos like those remind me of the world I was born into, just about 2 1/2 months after those photos were taken. Thanks for the memories, Dave, as Bob Hope would say.

  3. I think the model’s pose with her left foot up on the running board like that would be considered very “unladylike” for 1938. I can just hear some ladies’ “Tut, tut, tut” “Well, I never . . . ” , & their disapproving looks.

  4. Yes the stations were great, I pumped gas at a Shell station on the night shift and a Gulf station on Sunday’s if a young lady came in for gas I would spend a lot of time washing her windshield . O great memories

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