1973: U.S. Oil Crisis

Source: David Falconer / EPA / US National Archives via Business Insider

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Goggles aficionado. Retronaut’s founder and curator.

12 Responses

  1. Daniel Latinus

    During the gas shortages of 1973, between our house and our school were maybe five gas stations. (At least two of those stations were a few block down from the road we used.) On more than one occasion we arrived at school late because of the lines of people trying to buy gas.

    It was about this time that locking fuel tank caps became popular.

  2. JM

    From my mother, who was a college student in Los Angeles during this time.

    I commuted from Panorama City to Beverly Hills every day in a VW but running out of gas when you are sitting in a traffic jam happens a lot during times like these, because it took so long to get your gas, you couldn’t always get it. We used to run to our cars at lunch, drive over to a station and get in line. Sometimes you’d spend your whole lunch hour in the car and still didn’t get any gas! Ran out on Laurel Canyon once and had to walk up to an imposing house with an even more imposing owner and interrupt what looked like a meeting of Mafia dons to ask for gas. Everyone had a five-gallon in their garage in those days. He “parted with his Ethyl” (a premium gas you don’t see anymore) as he put it and I was on my way. Another time I ran out on the freeway and four guys got out of their car and lifted my car with me in it to the shoulder of the road. I don’t remember how I got out of there and to work. I guess the whole “lifting” incident kind of wiped that out.

  3. Barin

    I long for this. I really really desperately long for this.
    When cars finally stop stealing our attention, we might find that we can all live a little closer, interact a little more, buy food from our farmers and even, gasp, work less!

    • qka

      I was in my early teens then. You worried about your car more, not less. You were worrying if you had enough gas to do what you had to do, let alone that which you wanted to do. No gas won’t change things because there will be electric cars or cars fueled with something else.

    • RadialSkid

      Live closer? Yuck. I like my solitude, thanks, almost as much as I like my cars.

  4. Yoda

    Popular Science and Popular Mechanics from that era make for an interesting read. The average American car got something like 12 mpg, and people talked about 25mpg cars like we talk about 40mpg ones now.

  5. ZapatillaLoca

    Where I lived in Florida, at that time, they had a “odd/even” system using the last number of your license plate for when you could get gas..I remember having to switch plates with neighbors to get gas, we did it so often that we sometimes forgot which license plate belonged to which car…got a little messy when one got stopped by the police…I also remember 2/3 of the gas stations in the area going out of business..

  6. P'Gell

    I remember waiting in line for gas with my dad. I also remember our mall turning the air conditioner up to 78 or 80 one summer. All the computerized cash registers started failing and I remember one 4 hour shift at Carson’s where we went through 4 cash registers and 3 ambulances came to collect customers who had fainted from the heat.

    They decided it was worth it (at least at Carson’s) to turn the A/C up some after that.

  7. P'Gell

    We should have invested in air and solar power in earnest them. We knew some people with solar and wind start up companies, Big Oil bought them out, told them *they* (the oil companies) would take over paying for the research and production. After a few months, they fired all the entrepreneurs and their employees, stopped the research, and shut down all the projects. THEY didn’t want solar or wind power, so they killed it in it’s infancy.

    If we had perfected it (and kept the Big Oil away) then, we wouldn’t be so fossil fuel addicted now, and we’d all be in better shape. Still, we try and Big Oil does what they can (and they can do a lot) to cause wind and solar companies to fail almost immediately.

  8. Yabutz

    During the energy crisis in the ’70′s I remember the long gas lines and going to school in the dark because they expanded daylight savings time.


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