September '18

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52 THE SHOP SEPTEMBER 2018 I n 1954, three men in St. Joseph, Missouri, came up with a friction-fighting product that helped automotive motor oil perform better, in the way of resisting thinning at high engine temperatures and high oil pressures. The name group members Charles (Doc) Liggett, Jim Hill and late arrival Robert DeHart came up with for their new oil additive was Scientifically Treated Petroleum, or STP for short. With $3,000 for startup capital, the three developed a product that the public welcomed as an inexpensive way to solve problems under the hood. In those earliest days, STP cans were filled by funnel by the company founders and locally produced labels were slapped on. The cans were initially sold out of the trunks of the three founders' cars to jobbers, gas stations and at car shows and county fairs. Soon after, word-of-mouth advertising kicked in, as back in those days the typical automotive truck and farm tractor engine consumed oil on a regular basis and STP was said to decrease oil consumption and extend engine life. Early retail display racks for STP had the words German Devel- oped and some cans featured the word Magic at the top of the lithographed label. Regardless, the product was destined to become one of the most recognized names in the automotive market. EARLY INTRODUCTIONS Once introduced, STP competed with similar prod- ucts including Rislone, Bardahl, Wynn's, Miracle Power and others. One way the new product was promoted was a simple-yet-effective demonstration involving STP, a flat screwdriver and some common oil. When the screwdriver tip was dipped into the oil, it was clearly shown that if just a thumb and forefinger were used and held tightly, a person could pick up the screwdriver and hold it in the air. When the screwdriver was dipped into STP Oil Treatment, how- ever, no matter who tried or how hard someone squeezed, there was no way to pull up and hold the screwdriver in the air. It simply couldn't be done. 52 THE SHOP SEPTEMBER 2018 How a brand & motorsports can go hand in hand. The Story By James Maxwell This vintage STP Oil Treatment can has a stamped-on price of $1.35, and millions were sold. By the late 1960s, these cans were displayed and sold at some 99 percent of the 238,000 gas stations in America and on the shelves of some 37,000 auto parts stores. For those that didn't have the means to get a real STP jacket, the next best thing was an embroidered patch for a jean jacket or sealing a hole in a pair of Levi's.

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