When Was Gas Just Gas?

by | Mar 17, 2022

Stacker ran the numbers on the cost of a gallon of gasoline for each of the last 85 years to illustrate how fuel prices have changed throughout the years and why. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (last updated in August 2021), we analyzed the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline from 1976 to 2021 along with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for unleaded regular gasoline from 1937 to 1976, including the absolute and inflation-adjusted prices for each year.”


“Fill ‘r up!”

I recall getting my very first car in 1965. I had just returned home from serving in the Navy. It didn’t take long for me to crash it. Maybe crashed into by another fool on the road to the beach.

Cheap gas?

What we didn’t get back then was 12-15 mpg was the measure, not knowing much about technology. I loved $.25cents/gallon. Wouldn’t you?

Well, now I know fuel efficiency means something. My Subaru gets 40mpg. That means back when $.25/gal was nothing to sneeze at, we were paying more for much less efficiency. Gas was still cheap by today’s crazy.


The air quality in LA was terrible back then. I can remember my eyes burning and gasping at times. I can see and breathe in LA again. Do you remember when?

I do remember getting the old 1956 Ford back on the road. It was a convertible. I put my surfboard in the back seat. Do you remember?

‘Wild West’ traffic jams & crashes

The traffic north on the Harbor Freeway to downtown LA was terrible on a good day. I was in sales too.

Watching people on both sides of the highway in stop/go mojo mode, was entertaining. I learned that everybody behaves the same way, pretty weird, informative, funny, and often pissed off about the traffic.

We couldn’t do work back then while driving. To calm down, many drivers smoked tobacco and smog at the same time.

Believe it or not, folks ran out of gas on the freeway going to work. Downtown LA was around 12/15 miles from Pedro. On 2 gallons in the tank? You do the math.

The most important part of this story is my old Ford convertible. I could put my surfboard in the back seat and smile driving down Hermosa Ave to my favorite spot on 2nd Street.

Wishing you safe travels and cheap gas…

Steve Sparks CEO Children & Families in Life After Trauma (CFLAT)

About the author

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.
View all posts by stevesparks →

You might also like

Translate »