Nothing quite like that old car smell

Much has been written about the composition and appeal of the “new-car smell.” Objective analysis indicates that the smell is composed of materials that “outgas” molecules of the unstable volatile organic compounds of which they’re made. The new-car smell may include an amalgam of aromas from sources as diverse as cleaning and lubricating compounds, paint, carpeting, leather and vinyl treatments, latex glue, gasoline and exhaust fumes.

So intoxicating is the aroma of new-car smell that it has been analyzed, approximated and sold in such bottled products as Premium New Car Air Freshener by the Chemical Guys Professional Products. However, as the Chemical Guys themselves note: “If you go to a factory, you’ll notice most people who assemble cars wear a mask. They have a mask because they’re constantly made to smell that new-car smell. That smell is not necessarily healthy for you. Most of those odours are VOCs — volatile organic compounds. All of our fragrances are naturally derived, combined to emulate a new-car smell without being bad for you.”

An equal amount of research has not been done on the composition of old-car smell, a familiar aroma that begins to invade most vehicles at the point where they may no longer be fit for resale.

There is no great demand to replicate this complex scent in newer cars that have not yet acquired the patina of age. However, in many cases, a popular new product has not gained traction until a product-shaped void has been demonstrated to the potential target market.

Why should a vehicle owner purchase a spray bottle of Premium Old-Car Smell?

Like the Premium New Car Air Freshener, this product would be designed to avoid any dangerous compounds and replicate them instead. There’s only so much room for smells of any kind in the atmosphere of an enclosed vehicle. Spray safe Old-Car Smell into your car and drive away harmful compounds of any kind.

Consistency. The foul aromas inside any car shift from stale to acrid from day to day. The aroma of Old-Car Smell would be consistent and help drivers avoid unwanted olfactory surprises. Unpleasant, perhaps, but familiar.

You want to break off with a girlfriend, but she is beautiful, possesses no bad habits and would make an excellent mother to potential children. The smell of an unclean vehicle is a deal breaker. Warning to women: This is not en equal-opportunity strategy. Use of Premium Old-Car Smell can render female vehicle owners more attractive to males.

Empty nesters faced with a pristine car they often drive alone can relive their glory days as wanted and needed parents, replicating the aroma of the family car without the need for the rubbish that generated it.

You’re in the process of a divorce and undergoing valuation of assets. How better to temporarily devalue your Porsche than to make it smell like a wreck?

I have no chemical laboratory at my disposal, but a casual survey of drivers and passengers alike has provided an excellent starting point. Some of the prime components of old car smell include:

• Desiccated autumn leaves, chopped finely and spread liberally across the carpeting;

• Cheeseburger rub, ground into upholstery from the surface of translucent paper wrappers;

• A hint of expired off-brand shaving lotion, such as Rolph Lawren’s Powlo or Kevin Kline’s Objection for Men;

• Infusion of licorice allsorts, the yellow and pink coconut cylinders with black centres, buried at the base of the seat belt assembly;

• Powder of three-year-old Christmas tree needles;

• Crumble of two-year-old Christmas tree needles;

• Christmas tree needles;

• The mold of the fruity flesh clinging to a hidden peach pit;

• Hair of the wet dog that bit me (but not hard enough to break the skin);

• What the same dog deposited on the grass near your parking spot;

• Essence of expired orange-scented air freshener;

• Two per cent sour milk sea (chocolate or buttermilk optional);

• The scent of a freshly mown lawn, five summers later;

Eau de auto mechanic, who secretly smoked cigarillos, napped in the passenger seat and did not bathe with rigour;

• Pollen from posies that languished in the back seat after you figured out that she didn’t deserve them;

• Froth from the rim of a paper cup, containing somebody’s pumpkin spice latte;

Esprit de disposable diaper;

• Hockey pad soup, activated by a rainy October afternoon.

• Mist of broccoli flower, aged to corruption;

As crafters of fine perfumes note, a scent is individualized by the body chemistry of the user. Apply your own chemistry wisely.

A dog looks out of the window from the passenger seat of a vintage MG.
Photograph by: Marc Maller, AFP/Getty Images