Skip to main content

Main Area

Main

The cost of gasoline the year you started driving

  • 1967

    - Absolute gas price: $0.35
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.71 (#42 least expensive year in 84-year span)

    In 1967, the United States was in the midst of the Vietnam War. By this point, the U.S. troop count in Vietnam was nearing half a million, casualties were rising on both sides, and American anti-war sentiments were becoming increasingly prevalent. Elsewhere in the world, the scene was being set for the 1973 oil crisis, during which gas shortages plagued America, as major global oil suppliers like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Kuwait temporarily banned shipments. This came in response to the Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, which occurred in 1967. Use of oil as a tactical playing card in this way is referred to as the “oil” weapon.

  • 1968

    - Absolute gas price: $0.35
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.60 (#33 least expensive year in 84-year span)

    There might be no more picturesque image than sitting behind the wheel of a Mustang California Special, driving up the Pacific Coast Highway with the wind in your hair, perhaps on your way to grab a 50-cent hamburger—because it's 1968. The Ford Mustang California Special coupe was produced in a limited run (only about 4,000 were sold) and sold primarily in California in the 1968 auto year. This car is a strong example of 1960s style and the West Coast glamour that was idealized at the time.

  • 1969

    - Absolute gas price: $0.36
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.53 (#27 least expensive year in 84-year span)

    At the end of Richard Nixon's first year as president in December of 1969, unemployment had fallen to 3.5% (a low that has yet to be matched), and inflation was at 6.2%. Because of this, prices generally rose, even as overall spending remained about the same. This may have contributed to gas prices rising a cent from 1968, from $0.35 to $0.36 per gallon.

  • 1970

    - Absolute gas price: $0.36
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.40 (#23 least expensive year in 84-year span)

    Despite past political efforts, by the early 1970s the United States had developed a reliance on imported oil. Technological advances meant that more oil and gasoline than ever before was required to maintain daily life, but the U.S. was producing less and less oil domestically. This would ultimately develop into the 1973 oil crisis. The economy also took an overall hit this year—GDP growth was only 0.2%, down a substantial amount from the year prior, and inflation continued.

  • 1971

    - Absolute gas price: $0.37
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.36 (#21 least expensive year in 84-year span)

    Gas prices climbed in 1971, as did taxes, due to inflation and general economic instability. The situation became so dire that President Richard Nixon issued a 90-day freeze on all prices and wages in the nation. He demanded that everyone, from the individual to the corporation, cooperate voluntarily. The freeze brought about mixed reactions, and though it did initially inject some much-needed life back into the stock market, the success was short-lived.

    You may also like: 50 women who broke barriers in the business world

  • 1972

    - Absolute gas price: $0.37
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.29 (#18 least expensive year in 84-year span)

    The 1973 gas crisis caused widespread panic and national gasoline shortages. This event caught most by surprise, but not Stewart Udall, a writer for The Atlantic who predicted the crisis in 1972. Udall was convinced that insufficient American oil production, coupled with an unstable market in the Middle East would prove problematic, and wrote that “the impact of these tremors can already be anticipated.”

  • 1973

    - Absolute gas price: $0.41
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.38 (#22 least expensive year in 84-year span)

    The most famous historic event to do with gasoline and gas prices, the 1973 oil crisis began when the members of OPEC declared an embargo against nations that had supported, or appeared to support, Israel during the Arab-Israeli war earlier that year. This embargo meant that the United States, which had become extremely reliant on foreign oil, suddenly faced gasoline shortages. In response, gas prices soared, and lines at gas stations got longer. The impact of this crisis ultimately stretched far beyond availability; in fact, the crisis shifted the balance of global politics and forced America to take a position in the Middle East in order to end the embargo.

  • 1974

    - Absolute gas price: $0.55
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.88 (#21 most expensive year in 84-year span)

    When 1974 began, the United States was still very much in the midst of the oil crisis that had begun the previous year as retaliation against nations that OPEC believed supported Israel. This was accompanied by a stock market crash that lasted throughout 1973 and 1974, and gas prices continued to skyrocket. In some states, license plates ending with odd or even numbers could fill up only on certain days. Eventually, negotiations resulted in Israel withdrawing its troops from the Suez Canal in exchange for lifting the embargo.

  • 1975

    - Absolute gas price: $0.59
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.83 (#27 most expensive year in 84-year span)

    By 1975, the public was scared and suspicious; two years of waking up at the crack of dawn to wait in line for gasoline had taken its toll on morale, and gas prices increased once again. Along with changes in price, however, came changes with how money was spent. Throughout the 1970s, the credit card was gaining popularity, and women were beginning to demand equal rights in the realm of credit and finances. In fact, a year after the Senate passed the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, a bank opened that was geared specifically toward women.

  • 1976

    - Absolute gas price: $0.61
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.77 (#35 most expensive year in 84-year span)

    Absolute gas prices rose by two cents between 1975 and 1976, though inflation began to slow down around this time. The inflation adjusted price dropped by five cents between the two years. Though the oil embargo that had caused gasoline shortages had been lifted, the United States now faced another energy crisis: a natural gas shortage that resulted in layoffs in the automobile industry. Businesses and homeowners alike struggled to function and stay warm as winter approached.

    You may also like: Former jobs of the CEOs of the largest 50 public companies

2018 All rights reserved.