Liquid engineering

One of my random Internet pastimes is answering surveys. Partly I do it because I suspect I’m an interesting edge case for their data set, the exception that will prove their rules. Also, at the end they offer some of the statistics they’ve gathered, which can be interesting. And sometimes, the act of answering trivial questions can lead me to odd insights about myself.

Like just now.

It was a survey about motor oil. Since I’ve only been driving for a little under 3 years, and since we’ve always taken the car to the dealer for its oil change, I’ve not had much occasion to learn about oil, or the oil changing process.

In fact, while answering the survey I realized that the sum total of my knowledge about oil changes is what I learned from the ubiquitous Castrol GTX ads on UK television in the early 80s.

Specifically, I know three things: I know that Castrol GTX is a brand of oil. I know that it is viscous and golden in color.  And I know that if you pour it gradually onto a sheet of metal on which a metal spanner is resting, it will cling to the edges of the spanner and flow around it.

And now that I pause to think about it, two of those things might be totally untrue.

But there’s something a little disturbing about the idea that if I had to go buy oil for the car right now, I’d probably buy Castrol GTX, simply because of a TV advert shown 25 years ago (and thousands of miles away); an ad that didn’t really work on any level beyond pure abstract brand awareness.

And even more amazing is that with less than a minute of effort I managed to locate the ad on YouTube.