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The cost of gasoline the year you started driving

  • 1957

    - Absolute gas price: $0.31
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.85 (#24 most expensive year in 84-year span)

    The federal gasoline tax has remained at 18.4% since 1993 and exists with the intention of raising money to pay for infrastructure like roads and highways. The current structure of this tax dates back to 1957, when a system was set up to send all money made from the gasoline tax directly to the federal Highway Trust Fund. The general public expressed support for the idea of this tax being spent on things that would help them navigate their cities. Since then, that cash supply has been put toward other projects.

  • 1958

    - Absolute gas price: $0.31
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.77 (#34 most expensive year in 84-year span)

    The 1958 recession signaled the sharpest economic downturn during the generally prosperous era between World War II and the 1970s. Many industries were deeply affected during this time, with the automobile industry as a prime example. 1958 was the worst year for automotive workers since the industry-wide wartime halt a decade earlier. This period of economic distress lasted less than a year, but impacted unemployment, spending, and the strength of the dollar.

  • 1959

    - Absolute gas price: $0.31
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.75 (#37 most expensive year in 84-year span)

    There was a shift in America's attitude towards oil at this time. President Dwight Eisenhower introduced the Mandatory Oil Import Program, placing restrictions on the amount of oil that could be imported into the United States. His reasoning was based on national security concerns and a desire to prevent America from becoming too reliant on other nations for energy.

  • 1960

    - Absolute gas price: $0.32
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.79 (#32 most expensive year in 84-year span)

    Throughout the 1960s, new cars continued to blend exciting new technology with increasingly sleek design. Style was moving away from the 1950s “bigger is better” mentality, and towards a pared-down but intensely powerful world of automobiles. Muscle cars, which originated in this decade, are a perfect example of this new ideal. Additionally, 1960 marked the founding year of OPEC (the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), made up of the world's biggest oil producers. This force exerted its power over oil and gasoline prices for the United States and the rest of the world.

  • 1961

    - Absolute gas price: $0.32
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.76 (#36 most expensive year in 84-year span)

    In January 1961, John F. Kennedy took office as the 35th president of the United States. This marked the tail-end of a short recession, which led to a period of immense economic expansion (the longest in history up to that point), lasting until 1969. Some cars that were introduced in 1960 include the Mazda B Series, the Fiat 2300, and the Oldsmobile Cutlass.

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  • 1962

    - Absolute gas price: $0.32
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.74 (#38 most expensive year in 84-year span)

    There was no change in the absolute price of gas between 1961 and 1962, and the inflation-adjusted price dropped by just by two cents. The world was shaken on Nov. 22, 1963, when President Kennedy was assassinated during a presidential motorcade in Dallas, Texas. Though experts agree that Kennedy's economic legacy is complicated—his tax cuts remain a popular point of discussion on that front—he certainly presided over a period of immense economic prosperity in the United States, leading to low unemployment rates even after his death.

  • 1963

    - Absolute gas price: $0.32
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.70 (#40 least expensive year in 84-year span)

    The 1960s were not necessarily a time of great environmental concern or awareness, but Americans were starting to take notice of factories and cars negatively impacting air quality. In 1963, the Clean Air Act was officially passed. This legislation allowed for the creation of a program that researched methods of controlling air pollution, in an attempt to control current levels.

  • 1964

    - Absolute gas price: $0.32
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.67 (#36 least expensive year in 84-year span)

    In 1964, the median income for American families was $6,600 a year. This marked a strong year for consumers—this median income was 5% higher than it had been in 1963, and more than double what it had been in 1947. Absolute gas prices once again remained steady at $0.32 per gallon, meaning that at this time, a gallon of gas made up a slightly smaller percentage of a person's total income than it did in 2018.

  • 1965

    - Absolute gas price: $0.33
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.71 (#41 least expensive year in 84-year span)

    The Clean Air Act of 1963 was an important move in the direction of environmental awareness, and the 1965 amendments to this law specifically targeted automobile emissions. The amendments, known as the Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act, prioritized setting specific standards for car emissions, beginning with 1968 car models. The amendments also raised awareness and promoted research on how pollution in the United States could impact air quality in Mexico and Canada.

  • 1966

    - Absolute gas price: $0.34
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.71 (#41 most expensive year in 84-year span)

    Few cars can sum up the automobile style preferences of the 1960s like the Ford Mustang. Beginning with the Mustang I, a two-seater that prioritized style over substance, the car eventually morphed into its 1966 identity: often a red convertible with all the flair of the popular muscle car ideal. In 1966, Ford sold approximately 500,000 Mustangs Coupes, making it one of the most popular and lasting models the brand ever produced.

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