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Spare Parts: Olfactory Upgrade

By Ernie Copper

Who can forget Plum Crazy, Sub Lime and Lemon Twist? It won’t take long for those of a certain age to identify those names as Mopar’s High Impact colors of the late 60’s and early 70’s and if you recognize those, you will likely recognize the Orange Krate, Lemon Peeler and Apple Krate names as Schwinn’s two-wheeled answer from the same time frame for the slightly younger among us.

Well, there’s a new kid in town when it comes to the fruit filled names of the 60’s and they’ve left me a little confused. When I walked up to the checkout counter at Summit Racing near Akron, Ohio, I was asked if I’d like to buy any Fuel Fragrance today. The cashier presented a small bottle. Groovy Grape it read. I was fearful that she would spray me with it. It felt like I had been transported to the perfume counter at the mall during the holidays. I confess, I didn’t even understand what she was asking me. “Fuel Fragrance? What’s that?” I asked. She explained that Fuel Fragrance was an additive for non-catalytic converter equipped machines (I understood that to mean lawn mowers) to make them smell like things they aren’t.

The Fuel Fragrance product line has lots of names which are reminiscent of the heady days of our youth: Cherry Bomb, Rocket Cotton Candy, Bubble Gum, Burn Out Blue Berry and Rippin’ Root Beer. There is also Peel Out Piña Colada, Wicked Watermelon and Flyin’ Hawaiian Fruit Punch. A 4-ounce bottle treats 20 gallons of gasoline and the only true purpose for it is to make you exhaust smell better. Better or different.

I’ve always been a big fan of high octane race gas fumes and I can’t imagine a bottle of Peel Out Piña Colada making it any better. To their credit, the good people who make Fuel Fragrance offer no claims of performance enhancement or better lubrication. Nope, the product is simply “designed to eliminate unpleasant exhaust fumes and the eye, nose and throat irritation that comes with them.” This departure from the irritating tendency of additive companies to make radical performance claims of all sorts was already eliminating unpleasant irritation in my life and I haven’t even bought any!

I was caught off guard that day because I’d never been pitched at Summit’s counter before. Summit is a nationwide, mail-order gearhead galleria with all manner of hi-performance parts and even an off-road motorcycle and ATV department. I’m lucky to have their brick and mortar headquarters within driving distance. That said, I felt like their asking me if I wanted any Fuel Fragrance with my parts was like McDonalds asking if I want to add an apple or cherry pie today. Alas, it’s a sign of the times.

For now, I’ll stick with race gas as my inhalant of choice, perhaps occasionally mixed with a hint of Castor or peanut oil, just like Dad use to make it. For those wondering why you can’t use this stuff on vehicles equipped with catalytic converters, it’s simply because it just doesn’t work as well. Seems the cat eats up the fruity fragrance.

Everyone from drag racers to dirt bikes are using the stuff, but I can’t say I’ve knowingly had a snort of it. It’d be a shame if you didn’t pass Tech after a race because you’d used a fuel additive that smelt of elderberries on a lark. I’ve read about people using it because they run rich and they don’t like the smell. Really? How about adjusting the problem instead of hiding it behind a fruit-ified emissions? Smelling good is always important, but not at the expense of running right.

In case you’re wondering (because I was), it does leave the liquid gasoline in your tank smelling fruity too. And it seems that it takes a few fill ups for that to go away.

I could honestly see this product geared toward the golf cart crowd. Campers and rally goers alike each have deserved reputations for making decisions on the weekends that they may not make during the week and they do it all in the name of fun! I’ve seen plenty of jacked up, LED blazzin’, bass thumpin’ carts running tire and wheel combinations that cost more than the tires on my car, so the cost of a little fruit in the fuel is negligible and not hard to fathom.

But who knows? The summer is far from over and nothing says summer like a good whiff of Banana Blast. After all, it’s what you leave behind that’s important and if we stretch that axiom, I suppose that applies to our exhaust fumes too. While we’re burning down the ozone, it might just as well smell fruity and natural even if it is artificial. Besides all of that, it could surely make the time-honored claim of “less driver fatigue” often offered up by the writers of the J.C. Whitney catalogue back in the day for everything from fog lights to fuzzy dice.

Only in America, I’m guessing.

 

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