Q: Hi Greg. In a recent feature article in the Providence Journal’s "Cars We Remember," you mentioned a gas station game called "Sunoco Bucks" and then also reference a game called "Sunoco Sunny Dollars." Are you referencing two different games? Could you guide me to any reference that describes the "Sunoco Bucks" game as I never heard of this one?

I collect gas station game pieces and this is of great interest to me. Gas station games are my passion and I collect game pieces from all the games, especially the "instant winner" game pieces that were not redeemed during the games. As you can imagine those are quite scarce.

I built a website elaborating all of the popular games with photos and descriptions, and I have listed every gas station game I am aware of (over 130 of them). The list can be found near the bottom of this page: http://www.billjamie.com/Shell/Shell-Coin-Game/Mr-President-Coin-Game/Mr-President-Coin-Game.html

A page with photos of unredeemed "Instant Winner" game pieces can be found here: http://www.billjamie.com/Instant_Winner/Instant-Winner-Coin.html

Most of the instant winner game pieces shown are in my collection but not all. I solicit photos from other collectors and grab photos off the ’net when I see them. I have been accumulating the instant winner game pieces for many years and I have over 250 of them … probably the largest collection in existence. 

As you may know, Imperial Oil in Canada (Esso) ran a game in 1967 which included four customized 1967 Olds Tornados as the top prizes. See that game (and car) here: http://www.billjamie.com/Imperial-Oil/Esso-Roadshow-67/Esso-Roadshow-67.html

Have a great day and thanks much.

Bill Goldmann, Estes Park, Colorado 

A: Hello Bill and thanks for your email. To answer your "Sunoco Bucks" question, unfortunately, I failed to adequately explain. To clear things up, I was a regular customer for the Sunoco Sunny Dollars game pieces as my friends and I used to say while cruising in my ’67 GTX … "let's go get some ‘Sunoco Bucks.’" Sorry I misled you and other readers as the "Sunoco Bucks" game pieces I referred to were one and the same and officially called Sunoco Sunny Dollars.

With that straightened up, I have to admit that your letter is the first I’ve ever received concerning a detailed, fully enjoyable, personal website that not only features all of the gasoline games ever invented, it does so in a chronicled manner that pulls the viewer in and keeps them there for what seemed to me like hours. (You and your wife Jamie’s world traveler photos also held my interest, too).

Anytime I write about gas stations, readers reply with enthusiasm and especially those that grew up in the 1950s to 1970s. Back then, gas stations were known not just for the brand of gasoline sold, they were renowned for offering mechanical work from an oil change to a complete engine rebuild. It was a place where motorists could buy tires, batteries, brakes, shock absorbers and everything else your car needed to keep it in tip-top shape. The best gas stations had soda machines, candy and chips and perhaps even a lovable pooch that belonged to the owner. Chairs in the waiting room weren’t just for customers, as there was nothing better than hanging out at the gas station when the owners and workers weren’t too busy and had time to chat.

When the gas station games started, things got hectic, and your website includes all important information on the gas station games that were prevalent back then.

From Bill’s website: " Oil companies had been using games and incentives to attract people to their gas stations for decades but the Collect-And-Win format was wildly successful, especially when it included 'Instant Winner' game pieces. From 1965 to 1970 over 60 Collect-And-Win games were launched by oil companies.

"Billions of game pieces were distributed and many millions worth of prizes were awarded. Standard Oil offered over 1,000 brand new Ford Mustangs in their All-Pro and Super Pro games, while the top prize in Shell's Mr. President Coin Game was worth more than a new Mustang. Some games were only released locally, some regionally, and some were nationwide. These promotions increased sales and created fierce competition. One gas station owner described the games as ‘a necessary annoyance.’ Shell's Mr. President Coin Game wasn't released in all areas of the country but it was the most popular and most widely played. This is evident by the huge quantity of game pieces and game prizes existing."

In summary, I urge all of my readers that have access to computers to take some time and enjoy all of the links Bill lists above in his letter. If you are a gas station fan, you’re in for a real treat.

Thank you very much Bill Goldmann for this outstanding collection of gas station memorabilia that you are sharing with us. Best wishes to you and your wife Jamie.

Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media. Contact him at greg@gregzyla.com.