Before you laugh, go out and try to find a good gas can. If you've tried to buy a basic gas can lately, you've encountered a harsh reality of our dumbed-down world, which is that high quality stuff is very scarce. Quality steel construction has been replaced by cheap plastic everywhere we turn. Even the simple gas can is not immune from our cost-cutting, outsourcing, globalized consumer product revolution. On top of the crappy plastic gas can itself, new legislation written once again by California for the rest of the country mandates infuriatingly hard to use, spill-proof gas can spouts. You wind up looking for a gas can at a flea market just so you can find a hearty example made of American steel with a normal spout. And one gets the sense that, if we must have a spill-proof spout, there ought to be a design that actually works.
Sure, crappy one or two-gallon plastic units may be OK for the lawnmower or the weed whacker, but for shop and spare road trip fuel use we need at least five gallons. I needed a five-gallon gas can to fuel up a project car in my garage with Sunoco 94. (This wonderful gasoline is perhaps the only known justification for living in Northeastern Pennsylvania, other than good Italian food.) I also wanted a gas can I could strap to the back of a Jeep or on the roof rack of a rally car, or regular street car for that matter. In the life of an automotive writer, the only place you can have too much gasoline is in an aircraft that has just lost engine power. All I could find were plastic cans, the best of which are designed for track use and sold by companies like Racer Wholesale. They're OK for the track, but I would not necessarily want to strap one to a roof rack. I was drawn to the old school design steel gas cans, like the ones you see in World War II movies. But where to buy such a gas can?
We've featured a number of Griot's Garage items as Tool of the Month, and some of you have written in to say you really like the items. Others have criticized the price of some of the tools. Both of you are correct. When we look to Griot's, we are looking for high quality, and not low price. Yes, some of their products are expensive, and this one is not an exception. But I've looked, and I don't think a better gas can exists for less money-except maybe at the flea market.
Griot's Garage calls this unit a "Jerrican," part number 92336. Griot's used to sell a version from Germany for a characteristically German price, but the manufacturer quit making them. These new ones are made by our Canadian friends, and are exact duplicates of the German model for $49.99, some $35 less than the German version. It has an alkyd-ammonia based lining to prevent rusting on the inside, and the outside has a heavy duty, powdercoated finish. This gas can will still be in service in someone's garage long after we're all gone.
The "California-legal" spout is actually fairly easy to use once you get the hang of it. A fuel release valve engages the lip of the fuel filler pipe, starting the flow of gasoline when you are ready. The spout has a built-in check valve that automatically shuts off when fuel touches the tip. And the spout is long enough to be used in cars equipped with unleaded gasoline nozzle restrictors. Capacity is 20 liters, or 5.25 U.S. gallons.
My project 1977 BMW 320i is now filled with Sunoco 94, and the two main tanks and trunk-mounted auxiliary tank (it's a Road Warrior thing-what can I say?) tested tight and dry, juiced and ready to run with a 600-mile cruising range. Now it just needs fenders.