2021 oil, 1959 engine? Nash Metropolitan 1500

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Good morning!
I don't log in here often but do read quite a bit so thank you all for years of great content and "spicy" debate. I'm hoping I can leverage some community feedback for an oil recommendation.

The vehicle in question is a 1959 Nash Metropolitan Series IV. For those unaware, these cars were manufactured by Austin or The British Motor Corporation Limited (BMC) under contract for Hudson/American Motors/Rambler depending on the year of production. It's a very British car in a classic American car disguise. The engine is a BMC B series 1500 engine so flat tappet cams, rope seals, the whole 9 yards.

I'm in the process of getting it road worthy again and I'm at the point where I need to fill the engine with oil and get it started. After a ruptured fuel pump diaphragm and a crankcase full of gasoline (with maybe 3-4min of run time at idle and no load, thank goodness) my plan is to flush the engine with something inexpensive (Traveller Fleet Oil from the Tractor Supply springs to mind) to make sure I've got all the fuel and other potential crud out of the system, then get it filled with something more appropriate.

A reputable Nash parts vendor recommends "For a rebuilt engine any modern conventional 10W-30 can be used; use 10W-40 for a non rebuilt engine. For any oils that do not have zinc be sure to use a zinc additive to protect the cam shaft from unusual wear" but cautions against synthetics & syn blends as they "tend to cause too may leaks." I believe the engine is original (I'm aware of hardened valve seat challenges and ethanol in modern fuels) and at the present time, it makes oil pressure but I don't have a dedicated oil pressure gauge on it. In the past I would have reached for Valvoline VR1 Racing 10W-40 but this appears to have been discontinued in the US. I have experience with ACVW 1600 engines and understand the need for additional Zinc in older, flat tappet cam engines so VR1 seems like a solid choice. As this is a vintage engine I would frankly be a little afraid of some modern oils with aggressive detergent packages, though the trip down "gasoline ally" has probably cleaned out anything that was ready to go.

A 50/50 mix of the readily available VR1 20W-50 & 10W-30 gets me pretty close to the 10W-40 recommendation, but I'd rather have something that is a "one and done" rather than playing mad scientist at every oil change (no offense intended to those who enjoy these activities.) The car is in Northern California so temperatures are moderate and really, the car will only be driven in nice weather. I expect very little highway use as the car was NOT designed for modern speeds and braking, but I'd like to not have to worry about oil selection in the future.

So, what modern oil would be most appropriate for this engine? Opinions and experience are most welcome. TIA!
 
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Any of todays oils are so so much better than 1950s or 60s oils. I would suggest A HDEO oil , for example shell Rotella , Chevron DELO or Delvac 1300 . I used to work at a Forklift dealership and lots or the engines were flat head Continentals . Ancient technology and they haven't been used for decades in new equipment.. The company used Straight 30 Delo 400 and we were located in the SF bay area,
 
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Hi, what oil weight was initially recommended? I believe 20w-50 is and I would be hard pressed to not run that or similar in an original, un-rebuilt engine. Valvoline VR1 is a good choice, probably one of the best non-syns. Assuming the engine is relatively 'clean', I would cautiously recommend Mobil1 15w-50, with one or two short initial intervals. This is my go-to plan for most older cars I have had incl the oldies in my sig. Worked well for my old MGB with the same engine..plus 300cc's.

Anything xw-30 seems a bit light for that engine.

Nice little car, enjoy.
 
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You live in a warm climate, 20W-50 VR1 or straight 40 should be fine, are you in the US or Australia, your profile says california but you linked to Valvoline Australia. In the US Amazon has tons of different VR1 variants, the 20W-50 comes in a convient 5qt jugs, the rest only come in individual quarts.
 
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My '59 Willys has conventional 10W30 in the sump. No need for $8/qt racing oil. Just because it's a flat tappet doesn't mean it needs gobs of ZDDP.
 
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My '59 Willys has conventional 10W30 in the sump. No need for $8/qt racing oil. Just because it's a flat tappet doesn't mean it needs gobs of ZDDP.
Amazon has it for a pretty decent price, it's only like $23 for a 5qt jug, or around $5/qt for the 6pcks of quarts.
 
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Your reputable Nash parts vendor has lost credibility with me with his claim that synthetic and syn blend oils cause leaks. But that's just me.

I'd look at the original manufacture's recommendation for oil and use a narrow range synthetic of that weight. If Nash didn't spec a 50 weight single grade oil in '59, I wouldn't use a Xw-50 oil today.

This is a low displacement engine that isn't going to put a lot of stress on an oil. I'd baby the engine with a modern synthetic just because this car has managed to make it 62 years now and I'd want to do what I could to help it last longer, but you're probably not going to drive this car daily so almost anything within reason should work. By all means get something with some zinc in it, but even that likely isn't super critical since I don't imagine that the springs on those tappets are anything but light.

You want a way overkill - Redline's High Performance series in a 10w-30 grade (or whatever viscosity Nash originally spec'ed). I think those oils have around 1200ppm zinc if memory serves. If it's been a long time since this engine has been overhauled, then maybe pick somebody's high mileage oil.
 
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In a time long ago in a place far away my father bought one. He told me he was going to buy a British convertible. Being an overheated, testosterone addled teenager, I got lightheaded at the thought of driving around in an MG or maybe even a Triumph. He brought the two-tone yellow and white Metro home and my dreams were dashed. It had a diminutive Austin engine with a single downdraft Solex carb. No sexy SU side drafts. A cloth bench seat and a three on the tree, no buckets, no four speed. No racing pedigree. I did drive it quite often and even took it on a few gimmick rallies. I hated it with a passion only a jilted lover can experience and I flogged it to within an inch of its life. As the years have passed by, for decades I have wanted to publicly apologize to that little car for my mistreatment so here I offer my most unworthy supplication.


Though I've belted you and I've flayed you, by the living God that made you, you're a better soul than I Nash Metro.
Apologies to Rudyard Kipling.


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I would suggest a diesel 10w30 since they usually have a lot of zinc in case that old engine would like to see some. I honestly don't think that engine would care much about what is in it as long as it is thick enough. Now I def wouldn't use a 10w30 for example if a 20w50 was originally recommended. Don't really know too many specifics about your engine.
 
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. Now I def wouldn't use a 10w30 for example if a 20w50 was originally recommended.
A lot of old-school British engines call for 20W-50, I think it's because 20W was good enough for the British winter and it was the only multi-grade oil that was close to shear stable back in the day, a modern 10W-30 diesel oil or A3 oil would probably be just fine in most old British engines calling for 20W-50.
 
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A lot of old-school British engines call for 20W-50, I think it's because 20W was good enough for the British winter and it was the only multi-grade oil that was close to shear stable back in the day, a modern 10W-30 diesel oil or A3 oil would probably be just fine in most old British engines calling for 20W-50.
Yeah, that is what I would think but I don't know those engines too well. I know some engines from back then could use all the help they could get, don't know which ones though lol. I would think, if not for leaks, an A3/B4 oil would be ideal in most older vehicles. But I would be afraid to put it in something old that is pretty dirty because it will sure clean things up and more than likely cause leaks when the crud around the gaskets gets washed away. But something with new gaskets I think would be fine.
 
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Way back when a friend of ours drove one of those. He really took care of it. If I recall correctly the carburetor was finicky and had to be set just so.

The shifter came out of the instrument panel so it wasn’t a three on the tree as we know it to be. Kind of a odd setup but I suppose that once you get used to it then it works fine.
 

Angstrom42

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Any of todays oils are so so much better than 1950s or 60s oils. I would suggest A HDEO oil , for example shell Rotella , Chevron DELO or Delvac 1300 . I used to work at a Forklift dealership and lots or the engines were flat head Continentals . Ancient technology and they haven't been used for decades in new equipment.. The company used Straight 30 Delo 400 and we were located in the SF bay area,
Hey hey, at least I've got overhead valves in this one! Oil has certainly come a long way, I can't wait to see the reaction I get when asking about the recommended Straight SAE30 recommended for the gear box ;)

HDEO had occurred to me, but I need to check over the VOAs for content. I keep hearing that a lot of them "ain't what the used to be" but the Rotella T4 & T5 were at the top of the list in my mind. Thanks for the feedback!
Hi, what oil weight was initially recommended? I believe 20w-50 is and I would be hard pressed to not run that or similar in an original, un-rebuilt engine. Valvoline VR1 is a good choice, probably one of the best non-syns. Assuming the engine is relatively 'clean', I would cautiously recommend Mobil1 15w-50, with one or two short initial intervals. This is my go-to plan for most older cars I have had incl the oldies in my sig. Worked well for my old MGB with the same engine..plus 30cc's.

Anything xw-30 seems a bit light for that engine.

Nice little car, enjoy.
I'm unsure what weight was initially recommended, if I'm honest. I tend to agree, xW-30 seems awfully light and while xW-40 seems a bit better, the 20W-50 seems like it would be more in line with "vintage" requirements. I'll admit I don't know what the recommended oil weight was from the factory, I'll see if I can do some reading tonight.

Why cautious on the M1 15W-50 recommendation? I'm familiar with M1 (who isn't?) but 15W-50 is a new one on me. (edit: 15W-50 M1 is new to me, I can't say I've ever seen an M1 that heavy previously)

Glad to hear it worked on your MGB! I was hoping to get some feedback from the MG folks as these engines seem a lot more common in that platform in the US than the Nash. My understanding is the MG dual carb and cast manifold set makes a good "upgrade" for the 1500 in the Nash, and the MG 3.90 R&P set gives it a bit longer legs in modern traffic... if you can stop. Oh well, baby steps. Needs to run reliably before I think about upgrades.
You live in a warm climate, 20W-50 VR1 or straight 40 should be fine, are you in the US or Australia, your profile says california but you linked to Valvoline Australia. In the US Amazon has tons of different VR1 variants, the 20W-50 comes in a convient 5qt jugs, the rest only come in individual quarts.
I used to run the VR1 straight 40 in ACVWs and it seemed to do well if the engine was in good shape, though with some wear stepping up to a -50 would keep the oil light from flickering.
I'm in California, profile is correct. The Aus link for VR1 10W-40 was the only one I could find, apologies for the confusion!
I use high mileage 10w-30 in a 1952 Chevy straight 6.... and lose no sleep at night over it.
I once had a 62 Chevy straight 6 that would run on just about anything! It certainly wasn't a race motor but it got the job done with no hiccups.
My '59 Willys has conventional 10W30 in the sump. No need for $8/qt racing oil. Just because it's a flat tappet doesn't mean it needs gobs of ZDDP.
Amazon has it for a pretty decent price, it's only like $23 for a 5qt jug, or around $5/qt for the 6pcks of quarts.
Actually thinking back to earlier this year, I bought some at $19.99 for a case of 6. Don't use it in the Willys though.
I've had nothing but trouble trying to order oil from Amazon. something-something-Prop 65 Labeling-something-something. VR1 can be had at most of my local FLAPS, but I'm not opposed to ordering something more exotic like the offerings targeted at the vintage market from Amsoil, Brad Penn, etc. I just have no experience there. I don't mind the costs associated with a boutique oil. Outside of potential future fuel mishaps, I suspect this little car will get annual oil changes, and checked frequently.
<pic of T5 10W-30>
T5 10W-30 & 15W-40 were very high on my list, thanks!
Your reputable Nash parts vendor has lost credibility with me with his claim that synthetic and syn blend oils cause leaks. But that's just me.
I'm not going to argue with you on that one! I feel most of those fears are blown way out of proportion.
I'd look at the original manufacture's recommendation for oil and use a narrow range synthetic of that weight. If Nash didn't spec a 50 weight single grade oil in '59, I wouldn't use a Xw-50 oil today.
Very, very good point and again, I must admit I'm unsure what grade was originally recommended. I'll have to do some looking this afternoon.
This is a low displacement engine that isn't going to put a lot of stress on an oil. I'd baby the engine with a modern synthetic just because this car has managed to make it 62 years now and I'd want to do what I could to help it last longer, but you're probably not going to drive this car daily so almost anything within reason should work. By all means get something with some zinc in it, but even that likely isn't super critical since I don't imagine that the springs on those tappets are anything but light.
My mindset exactly. Cost of oil is going to be negligible as I seriously doubt I'd hit a mileage OCI before I'd hit a "reasonable date" OCI. Stress and load will be low, though I suspect it'll need all 52hp to keep up with modern traffic at times. I was thinking the same about the valve springs, I can't imagine they would last forever!
You want a way overkill - Redline's High Performance series in a 10w-30 grade (or whatever viscosity Nash originally spec'ed). I think those oils have around 1200ppm zinc if memory serves. If it's been a long time since this engine has been overhauled, then maybe pick somebody's high mileage oil.
Overking of Overkill, checking in. ;)
I'll take a look at the Redline, I hadn't seen much chatter about them but they do make a good product. We run it in the racecar and have absolutely no consumption, which is a bit shocking for a K20 that quite regularly sees 8k+ RPMs during endurance races. I'd trust it.

Thanks all for the feedback! I didn't expect this vigorous a conversation so quickly, and I've certainly got some more reading to do. Cheers!
 
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Yeah, that is what I would think but I don't know those engines too well. I know some engines from back then could use all the help they could get, don't know which ones though lol. I would think, if not for leaks, an A3/B4 oil would be ideal in most older vehicles. But I would be afraid to put it in something old that is pretty dirty because it will sure clean things up and more than likely cause leaks when the crud around the gaskets gets washed away. But something with new gaskets I think would be fine.
I had that concern also, but after having switched maybe seven or eight older British and German cars and an old tractor to syn oils, I haven't seen any noticeable increase in leaking, but 1) these vehicles were all well maintained and 2) they all leaked to begin with. I have seen some increased leakage in using modern gear oils, but again the old Rovers were leakers to begin with.
 
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Angstrom42, I say 'cautious' because if the engine is an ill-maintained, varnished lump then I would think twice about a modern synthetic as the purported sudden cleaning of years' worth of deposits may be an issue. If not, then I prefer the M1 15w-50 as it will flow faster than a conventional 20w-50. It also has enough ZDDP for your engine's valvetrain.
 
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MGB1962-801.8 carbCarlube Classic-RX1363CL20w/50 mineral4.30
MGB1962-801.8 carbCastrol ClassicRX13631LRX136320w/50 mineral4.30
MGB1962-801.8 carbCarlube Triple RRX1896RX189710w/40 semi synthetic4.30
MGB1962-801.8 carbCastrol ClassicRX15701LRX1570XL30 mongrade

Found this off of a UK auto supplier site. Couldn't find one for the Nash, not surprised, but these are for B Series engines. I'd probably pass on the monograde :)
 
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A reputable Nash parts vendor cautions against synthetics & syn blends as they "tend to cause too may leaks."
Old wives tale, plus it's a British engine. The only time it's NOT going to leak oil is when there is no oil left in it. The worst modern oil today is going to be better than anything available when it was new. The cheapest oil you can find is just fine. If it was mine, Mobil 1 5W30 since I must have over 50 jugs at 10 cents a quart.
 
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