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Five petrol brands from the past

Way back when the motor car was starting to gain popularity through the 1950s and 1960s, Australia enjoyed a variety of fuel brands to choose from on a long road trip.

There was no self service back in those days, rather an attendant checked your tyre pressures, oil levels and filled your car with petrol. Now many of these basic maintenance jobs aren’t completed at all.

Many of the much loved names during this era usually displayed across the country in cities and country towns or even roadhouses have been absorbed by bigger multinational countries.

The Repco Garage reflects on some of these bygone brands.


Not entirely an Australian brand starting as the Standard Oil of Indiana in 1889, Amoco in Australia started being heavily promoted in 1961.

Amoco promoted its clean fuels during the mid-1970s and 1980s, with the passion of Australians for driving being portrayed strongly through its advertising at this time.

By 1984, British Petroleum bought out all the Amoco petrol retailers putting an end to the name in Australia.

Golden Fleece

A partnership between shipowners Harold Sleigh and John McIlwraith in 1893 led to Golden Fleece bringing the first consignment of motor spirit from the US.

Sold as drums initially, the first pump was installed in 1920 and its trademark ‘golden merino’ became a common sight across Australia.

During the late-1940s and 1950s, Golden Fleece expanded rapidly as the automotive industry boomed post-war, acquiring the Kangaroo and Phillips 66 retailers during the 1960s.

Taking advantage of Australians travelling across the land, Golden Fleece built Roadhouses and further growth came when it gained a major contract with Linfox, a small trucking company at the time.

Golden Fleece acquired by Caltex after the fuel crisis of the late-1970s, but its iconic ‘golden merino’ remains a popular collectable for many to this day. And of course, Linfox still enjoys a relationship with Caltex after its recent rebranding to Ampol.


Solo Oil was a precursor to the cut price Liberty fuel stores of today set up by David Goldberger and David Wieland in 1974.

Linking up with Mobil Australia, Solo Oil was supplied petrol at a fixed rate and provided a discounted rate to customer due to this as the fuel crisis hit. Joining forces with the Australian Council of Trade Unions in 1975 enabled Solo Oil to sell discounted fuels to independent regulators in Melbourne before expanding to Sydney two years later.

Sold to Ampol in 1989, Solo Oil was by then the largest independent fuel retailer and distributor in Australia at more than 200.

Goldberger and Wieland went to establish Liberty Oil in 1995.

Esso Australia

Esso is still somewhat around through Mobil, which purchased the Australian operations in 1990. Starting in 1927 as the Atlantic Union Oil Company, it launched its Union Motor Sprit a year later before a take over followed by Standard Oil Company from New Jersey in 1933 later becoming Exxon.

Another merger occurred when the Standard Oil Company and the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company (later to become Mobil) came together to create the Standard-Vacuum Oil Company.

The Esso trademark was first registered in 1937 and the brand was used instead.

Further expansion occurred when Esso Exploration Australia discovered natural gas in Bass Strait, but both this and the petroleum sales were transferred to Mobil during the 1990s.

Esso sponsored a variety of sports including the Richmond Football Club in the VFL during the 1980s.

Yes, this an ad for Esso Oil.


The Neptune Oil Company began as an independent petroleum company based in Melbourne in 1909 started by John Kitchen and his sons.

In 1917, Neptune introduced Waratah Motor Spirit to the market and seven years later this was available in all across Australia. The Anglo-Dutch Shell Company purchased Neptune/Waratah in 1926, continuing the latter branding until 1952.

Neptune petrol started to be sold following this before the name was dropped by Shell in 1959. It’s distinctive pumps featuring the ‘King Neptune’ logo and horizontal pinstriping remain collector’s items to this day.

A famous array of drivers were part of the Neptune Racing Team including Jim McKeown, Norm Beechey and Peter Manton.