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General Violet Ray: The Million Dollar Gasoline

Even though today’s image appears to be a promotional photo for “Violet Ray” gasoline that debuted a month earlier, in actuality it gives the impression, that it is a press photograph that is dated November 12, 1928, taken for F. Billie Wilcox of Centralia, Washington. Apparently, Wilcox was an agent for the E.C. Bristol Co. also located in Centralia and sold Mutual Benefit Health & Accident insurance policies for the Company. Wilcox’s four-door sedan is by an unknown maker which we are hopeful our readers can identify.

“Violet Ray” anti-knock gasoline, was refined by the General Petroleum Corp. based in Los Angeles. The “San Jose News” October 3, 1928, issue contained an article on the front page about the Oil Company’s rollout of the new and improved violet-colored motor fuel introduced at “3500 of its dealers in the Pacific Coast States.” The color of the gasoline was no doubt chosen so it would stand out in the clear glass display cylinders of the “visible” pumps of the era.

View images of filling stations in the Los Angles area selling another brand of gasoline with a similar color, “Purr Pull,” that was produced by the Signal Oil Company. Over 240 photos of other vintage filling stations can be seen here in earlier coverage. The picture is via Ameristation.

21 responses to “General Violet Ray: The Million Dollar Gasoline

    • Yes you are right, they do look like a Willys Knight. I own a 1927 Willys and I am sure back in the day, many parts manufactures would produce for all auto manufactures.

  1. interesting three bar bumper on the big unknown sedan. Also, the trunk and wire wheels are a bit unusual, and nice. The thing about the trunk that I notice is that it appears to be all metal. This is right about when the fabric covered trunks were being followed by all metal, which were much more common in the early ’30s.

    The thing I find most interesting in this photo, is the earlier coupe way in the back. I can’t tell for sure what make it is. The body lines are almost exactly the model T coupe sold from 1919 through 1923. But something around the fender and wheel gives me doubt. There were other cars with lines very close to what Ford had. I think it is likely a Ford T, with just a slight hesitation.
    What is interesting about it, if it is a Ford, is that the car clearly is not all black! We do know that some shops offered to repaint in optional colors. But good photographic evidence is rare, and indicates that it wasn’t done often. In my small collection, I do have an original copy of a picture of a well accessorized model T center-door sedan. It is one of maybe a dozen pictures I have ever seen (out of thousands I have looked at closely) that clearly show a “black era” T as other than black.

    Thaks again David G! W2

  2. The triple bar bumper suggest Buick Master six (What other make used these?) The tail light suggest Dodge Brothers six of 1927. The 1928 Dodge Victory six did not have a double belt across the back. I ruled out Hudson because the example did not have suicide doors on the front. I couldn’t find a Studebaker with a double belt on the back. Ditto Willys. The 1928 Stutz had a huge visor not on the above car and the 1928 Peerless had different shaped rear quarter windows. Requires further study.

    • I agree it’s a 1927 Nash Advanced Six, not Ambassador, this name I believe was not used before 1932. Plenty of pictures can be found on the Internet, including a roadster with the three bar bumper and a factory photo of an almost identical sedan.

      • A quote from The Standard catalog in the 1927 Nash section. “Two new premium level sedans, the Ambassador (Series 260) and the Cavalier (Series 230) featured more rounded rear contours, a styling feature picked up by all Advanced and Special Six sedans for 1928.”

    • I vote for Nash Ambassador as well.

      The mid-Twenties Nash Ambassadors had a unique profile to the rear body section, reminiscent of English “saloons” of the same era.

      As far as I know, they were the only American maker to produce such a body design.

  3. Boy, even in the ’20’s, they knew, anybody involved with gasoline will make a million dollars,,,and we had purple fuel ( violet, purple, what’s the difference) in the ’60’s and ’70’s at Purple Martin Gas stations. I believe, the name on the spare tire cover says Studebaker.

  4. Union 76 gasoline also touted: Purple! The “colors” in automobile gasolines were mandatory to identify it as Motor fuel Instead of: “White” (Clear) gasoline used for cooking stoves, irons, heaters, & mantle lanterns. An excellent opportunity to impress the motoring public with yet another Mysterious Claim!!! Meanwhile, the Public continued with the same problem of : De-carbonization of Cylinder heads from poor quality (low octane rating) fuel. Tetra-Ethyl Lead additive helped performance matters —-but POISONED all of us in the process! E. Winet

  5. Early Nash: A Quality Automobile with a high reliability factor built in. Of particular note was: The Dual Spark Plug cylinder head & its combustion chambers , which required a Dual Ignition Distributor /Coil setup, on its reliable, strong, 6 cylinder engines, (typically only found on more expensive Autos). The earlier Coachwork and elegant bumpers are yet another statement about a Bumper being able to “fend off ” ” traffic issues”! Nash provided both economy models and larger models — and was Foremost among the “Fifties”, offering both: “Ramblers” and “Ambassadors” , etc., to fulfill a variety of Model needs for Customers. I was saddened to witness: Hudson, Nash & Packard —not being available, as these former “performers” were significant American Marques! Imagine: (Nash): Push the clutch to the floor — (and just a bit more) — and the Motor starts! Edwin W.

  6. A unique feature on wire wheeled equiped Nash cars was the outer spokes came out allmost as far as the hubcaps,and at a steep outward angle . Also the rear window had a curve at the top that was unique to Nash advanced six cars.

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