By on July 8, 2016

Hagerty Gas Station Event - Collector Car Appreciation Day_03

California is typically painted a scorching red on Gasbuddy’s heat map, but some drivers got a break from high pump prices in Beverly Hills this morning.

You needed a classic car to make the cut, and you needed to be at the historic (Union) 76 Gas Station at Little Santa Monica Boulevard and Crescent Drive, but if you were, you took a trip back in time without having to worry about dodging the draft.

Because it’s National Collector Car Appreciation Day, vintage car insurance provider Hagerty figured it would be nice to offer owners gasoline at vintage prices. Whatever year your vehicle rolled off the lot determined the price. When was the last time an insurance company brightened your day?

Got a ’55 Chevrolet? 29 cents a gallon, please. 1970 Ford? Pry open that Costanza wallet and pay 35 cents a gallon. The gasoline wasn’t leaded, because you can’t completely escape federal regulations.

Pump prices in the Beverly Hills-Hollywood are (mostly) well above three bucks a gallon today, so it would be nice to imagine — just for a fleeting moment — that Eisenhower is still alive, drum brakes are just fine for stopping, and a limitless future of Jetsons-like convenience awaits us all.

Hell, because prices weren’t adjusted for inflation, you’d have scored a great deal even if you showed up in a 1981 LTD with that awful 255 Windsor.

Depending on who you are (cynic, misanthrope, idealist, realist), it’s easy to think of those bygone days as the pinnacle of the American Dream or an unprogressive era rife with discrimination. But at least gas was cheaper, right? Well, it was…except for that era when WKRP was on the air.

Want to know what you really paid back then, adjusted for inflation? The federal government has graced us with this chart:

Historic gas prices

[Image: U.S. Department of Energy]

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54 Comments on “You Missed Your Chance to Score Really Cheap Gas and Dream of a Less Regulated Life...”


  • avatar
    Kenmore

    I’d be all like “Get those tubby clowns the hell away from my Chevy!”

    Owner could probably clean the glass better with his snot rag (we all carry them).

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    So your best deal was had if you owned a ’31 Model A, or ’32 Model B? The cheapest prices I can remember are about 31 cents, just a couple of years before the first Arab oil embargo. The cheapest I can remember actually paying for my own gas is about 57 cents for unleaded, in 1977.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    In the mid 60s while in hs I pumped gas at a Sinclair station in Cleveland.
    Lowest I can remember was 23 to 25 cents a gallon. But even then a lot of folks couldn’t afford a fill-up, just got a couple bucks worth or even paid in quarters.

    We gave out “Eagle” stamps too, which was an additional pain to tear out and dispense if your hands were dirty from checking under the hood.

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    No argument – adjusted for inflation, judged by hours worked to pay for a tankful, gas was, until a few years ago, cheaper than it had ever been.

    (Cue anti-Big-Oil rant from the pro-government types…)

    • 0 avatar
      360joules

      There was an awesome gas station price war in the Tri Cities of Washington state around the turn of the millennium. Gas hovered around $0.99-$1.20 a gallon for nearly two years. Never found out what caused the price war but enjoyed it nonetheless.

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      Yep, despite an administration who’s Stephen Chu said something close to “we need to do what we can to raise the price of gasoline equal to the price paid in Europe” during the early years of said administration. And now the Godfather of Gangster Government tries to take credit for low gas prices.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Can I call you General Malaise?
        Oil prices are governed by supply and demand. Let’s see what has happened in the last 7 years that our administration has influenced:
        SUPPLY
        – fracking, allowed by the federal government and encouraged by tax policy has greatly expanded US supply of natural gas and oil
        – Libya is now back on line and producing, due to US-influenced regime change there
        – Iran is now producing and selling oil to the West, because of the treaty this administration negotiated
        – The Mideast, despite all the headlines, is sufficiently stable to be producing oil to the extent that OPEC is a shell of itself

        DEMAND
        – fuel economy of new cars has been rising steadily due to CAFE and consumer demand
        – EVs and hybrids are increasing their share of miles driven, reducing the need for imported oil

        So, yes, you can thank Obama for low gas prices. But you won’t, you’ll just whine more.

        • 0 avatar
          mtmmo

          States have jurisdiction over oil and gas drilling on private and state-owned lands where 95% of oil fracking takes place.

          Source: BLM

          Don’t let the FACTS get in the way of your storytelling lies.

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            Don’t hold your breath, mtmmo. He’s got the DNC talking points, regularly beclowns himself and facts don’t matter. He’s a 52 year old, safe-driving Elmo.

        • 0 avatar
          GeneralMalaise

          Production on federal lands is up only slightly. Most of the gains have been on private land. Yeah, things are just swell in Libya and the president’s motivation for helping to improve Iran’s position in the Middle East will be judged harshly in the years to come. He and his administration truly have the fecal touch, as nearly everything they’ve tried in the way of domestic and foreign policy has not gone well. America is in a much worse position than when he took the helm and spoke of the oceans receding and his heavenly countenance.

          I’d provide links to info from all over the political spectrum for you that detail the 7.5 years of Fustercluck but one must have an interest in learning about the world around one and you don’t strike me as that sort of fellow. You can lead a yohan to the fount of knowledge, but you can’t force hydration.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            As I stated, the Federal government has encouraged US fracking through our tax structure. Do you get that? The oil industry gets tax incentives, just as EVs do. Regardless of whose land the oil is fracked from.

            So here’s what just happened. I listed 6 factors that led to reduced oil prices, which have been championed by the Obama administration.

            You turned around and whined. This is why they don’t call you General Malaise. They call you Rear Admiral Malaise.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            Are you sure you’re not confusing the prior admin for the current one?

            As an aside, during the mid-50s to early-60s – a time in America idealized by a certain segment of society in no small part due to the American middle class being the strongest it ever had and certain social structures still in place.

            The former was in large part due to the fact that during this time period, the US was most like a Northern European socialist country.

            High tax rate for top income earners, generous govt. benefits (GI bill which allowed millions of vets to get an education and finance a home purchase), high paying manufacturing jobs, big govt. projects (interstate highway system), etc.

        • 0 avatar
          GeneralMalaise

          Yeah, Obama and Democrats are BIG proponents of lowering taxes and providing productive incentives. Pull the other one. And that display of homophobia at the end was a cute touch! Sorry, that name was reserved for Ted Kennedy after he so bravely left Mary Jo Kopechne to drown.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            RAM,
            Keep changing the topic to divert your attention from failing.

            Speaking of failing, How’s the job search going?

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            VoGo,

            I now think GM is a kid aping bitter old white men for schitz & giggles.

            None of us real bitter old white men have such an empty life that we need to keep posting and posting cookie-cutter screeds every day (poss. exception of JPT).

          • 0 avatar
            mtmmo

            GeneralMalaise trying to talk facts with a known Leftist liar like Vogo is a waste of time.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            I would welcome facts. Go get some!

            Or do you just call names?

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            Yes, mtmmo… they are comfortable toeing their party line, facts be damned. Vogo’s a no go.

            Have a great weekend!

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      And legislation (pushed by former Senator Phil Gramm – who was also responsible for something known as the “Enron Loophole,” among other things) – changed the futures markets, allowing for tens of billions to pour into oil and other commodities futures markets, making them less of a hedge against price fluctuations and more of a means in which the big banks and hedge funds could manipulate to make $$.

  • avatar
    Christian Gulliksen

    It’s an especially good deal at that particular station, which usually charges way more than the going rate. Because it can, natch. Lately, most of the prices have been above $4 a gallon and diesel has been closer to $5.

    • 0 avatar
      TheDoctorIsOut

      Was wondering what that was all about today. This one and the Mobil station on Wilshire which actually is just inside the Beverly Hills city line (that ol’ Union 76 is still technically in LA) are the two most consistently expensive places to get gas in town I know of.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    I like to compare cars and trucks based on how far they can go if you spent as much on gas as the initial purchase price. This accounts for both inflation _and_ the financial budget of the owner. Assume $3/gallon (pretty much the price around here). A blinged-out Cadillac Escalade, at $90k, will purchase 30k gallons of fuel, which will get you about 500k to 600k miles. A $18k Honda Civic only get 6k gallons of fuel to burn, so even at 40 MPG only goes 240k. A Prius will go about 400k miles–still much less “efficient” than the Escalade!

    A Jeep Wrangler at $24k and 20 MPG goes a total of 160k miles. I suspect that is near the low end distance for normal vehicles.

    A Model-T sold for about $400, but that would buy about 2000 gallons of fuel at the time. Unfortunately, at 20 MPG you’re only looking at 40k miles.

    How about a typical car from 1970? Maybe $3k, buying 9000 gallons but at only 15 MPG goes only 135k miles.

    So, it looks like the cost of driving is much less expensive now than in the past, at least relative to the initial purchase price of the vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      360joules

      Elderly neighbor kept both a Model T and a Model A. Regardless of inflation-adjusted price, those flivvers a required a ton of fiddling and adjustment that make modern cars anvil reliable. It was amazing to tinker on cars that required so few tools.

    • 0 avatar
      360joules

      Elderly neighbor kept both a Model T and a Model A. Regardless of inflation-adjusted price, those flivvers required a ton of fiddling and adjustment that make modern cars anvil reliable. It was amazing to tinker on cars that required so few tools. This was in 1986-1989.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      SunnyvaleCA,
      Your comment has a great deal of truth behind it. The cost of fuel to operate a vehicles isn’t just measured in dollars terms. The best way to measure the cost of fuel is as a percentage of your income.

      All of living costs can measured this way. The average middle class lifestyle of the 60s is not like today. How much would it cost to live as we did in the 60s this day and age.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Well, you can take out your cell phone and internet bills, but your housing costs will still be higher (even if you live in a ’60s-size house), and you’ll be paying a lot for gas for that 225-inch-long car. You’ll pay more in medical bills as a result of being a smoker.

      • 0 avatar
        TheDoctorIsOut

        An interesting challenge. The price of a long distance call then was so dear you would wait until after the bargain rates kicked in at 11:00pm to call your relatives on the West Coast whereas today your cell phone plans are often all-distance plans within the 48 states and so no charge unless you factor in the cost of that phone and the cellular plan which are usually far more expensive than the few dollars paid for a landline.

        Television was OTA and free back then but a TV set was expensive, now a 55″ 4k can be had for equivalently less than a 32″ color console then but your cable bill is $200 a month.

        Our new house in a southern California subdivision was ours for $19,900 in 1961, checked it on Trulia the other day and it’s $750,000. That’s a pretty good reminder that prices are going be relative too depending on where you live or lived; hell of a difference living in Glendale CA versus Glendale AZ.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          Oh yes ~ I well remember the Family gathering ’round the telephone to wait for that Long Distance call to come in @ 8PM……
          .
          Gas was .27 cents in New Hampshire in the 1960’s , I’ve forgotten the name of the gas station .
          .
          .32 Cents the gallon @ Powerine Station when I moved to Pasadena in the Fall of 1970 .
          .
          -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            Good stuff, Nate. Our lives have certainly changed and yet so much of the technology hasn’t had a positive influence on us. One anecdote on fuel from me is I recall premium at 33 cents per gallon at the Mobil station in Anaheim, Ca. when I owned my ’64 GTO in 1971 and I also remember the gas crunch in late ’73 right before I bought my new ’74 X1/9 and then another crunch in ’79 and how thankful I was that I still had the option of driving that X instead of our other car, a ’78 Buick Turbo Regal… a real POS. I’ll never forget the embarrassment of having a twin-stick Dodge Colt blow past that Regal on a sweeping interchange from the NB 57 to the EB 91. Oh… the humanity!

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Gas was .27 cents? Wow, I could buy almost four gallons for a penny!

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    When I was a youngster, in the 50s, I was riding in the car with my dad. I saw a sandwich board sign on the sidewalk which had handwritten on it “GAS WAR”. I asked my dad if they would be shooting at each other. He laughed and told me that they were lowering the price trying to sell more gasoline.
    At the station, on one side of the street, the price was 11 cents. On the other 10 cents. A little over $1 a gallon in today’s money.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Here’s an interesting link comparing past and present’ish costs of living;

    http://www.mybudget360.com/cost-of-living-compare-1975-2015-inflation-price-changes-history/

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      I’m not in love with the analysis, as it ignores changes in quality. For example, it shows that housing costs 29% more in real terms than a generation ago. But the average house is twice as large today!

      Similarly, the chart shows that cars went from $17K to $31K on average. But a $17K car today is so much better than the average mid-70’s malaisemobile.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        VoGo,
        I agree with you. Look at the Mustang from the 60s. I’d say a stock 60s Mustang with a 6 would struggle to keep a 4 cylinder Camry or Altima on the track and the strip. The V6 Camry would blitz a V8 from the 60s. Then compare the FE of the Camry vs a 60s V8 Mustang.

        Lot of people forget that a vehicle from the 60s that could do 14-15 on a quarter would of been a very fast vehicle.

        Electronics this day and age are much cheaper. How much did a TV cost as a percentage of you wage in the 60s, let alone the p!ss poor image quality.

        Overall our quality of life is superior.

  • avatar
    SnarkyRichard

    Back in the 60s a fill up could get you a free drinking glass , an orange styrofoam antenna ball from Gulf , a fake tiger tail from Esso (now Exon) , and Sunoco had antique car coins from the Franklin Mint that you placed in a card in the corresponding slot.I still have one completed series one card and two others with a few missing . It was a fun thing for us kids to do .

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      Oh, yes! Those orange balls… Seems like in the west, they were Union 76 gas stations that gave those out. I could be wrong though,

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      SnarkyRichard,
      Do you remember the orange horseshoes you stuck on the car?

      I can’t remember which gas station had them. I think they were from Gulf?

      We stuck them on the back of my old mans car.

      • 0 avatar
        SnarkyRichard

        Yep , Gulf No-Knox Puts Extra Kick in Horsepower ! They still sell those 76 orange antenna balls on ebay .

        http://mentalfloss.com/article/55507/11-gas-station-premiums-yesteryear

        • 0 avatar
          shaker

          Atlantic Richfield (IIRC) was pushing “Red Ball Service” in the Northeast back in the 60’s-70’s — they had the foam ball for the antenna, too.

          Long before I could drive, I would ask for the free road maps at different gas stations – had a collection of sorts.

  • avatar
    skor

    “,,,,that Eisenhower is still alive, drum brakes are just fine for stopping,,”

    Properly sized and set-up drums brakes will usually beat disc brakes when those drums are COLD. The operative word here being ‘cold’. Problem with drums are this: As they get hot, they become useless.

    I owned cars with drums all the way around

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      they still suck, because self-energizing (duo-servo) drum brakes also have the bad habit of sudden lock-up. Look at how easily even a fully-loaded tractor trailer can lock up nearly every wheel on a hard stop; most of those vehicles have drums at each wheel.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Me too. My first car was a ’66 Mustang. It tried to kill me a few times either b/c the single circuit hydraulics failed (twice) or the four wheel drums just overheated and braking went to ‘nil.

      Even my Beetles had heating issues driven hard and those were really light cars. I could do 100 kph – 0 stops twice reliably. If the third happened too quickly then it was a white knuckle affair. That’s how traffic there functioned. As fast as it could.

      I love good brakes. More important to me than 0-60 mph times.

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    My cousin had a ’56 with the same color combo that he’d dropped a 396 into back in ’66. Alleged to be the fastest car in Anaheim at the time.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    My humble proposal, meant to please the business sector, environmentalists, and federal budget hawks. Let’s set a target price of, for example, $2.50/gal, before state & local taxes. When the market price of crude drops below that level, continue charging $2.50 and put that revenue, while it lasts, towards the national debt. When gas rises over $2.50/gal, subsidize it to bring it down to that level. With me so far? Great, but let’s also raise the target price by a regular amount, like $.05 per year.

    A longterm pricing plan like this would help businesses — even the oil business — by making oil prices steady and predictable. It helps the environment and the renewable sector by gradually lifting the pump price at a bearable rate. And it helps the economy by providing a new revenue source dedicated for debt reduction.

    Please don’t waste time speculating whether I’m a liberal or a conservative. I’m just trying to propose a a practical idea. Whats the matter with it?

  • avatar
    Grant404

    I don’t know about CA, I didn’t live in SoCal until starting in ’81, but in the Midwest in 1977 I remember paying in the 50 – 60 cent per gallon range for premium (Sunoco 260). Price was very important to me in those days as I was trying to keep enough premium in a thirsty (5-ish mpg) ’69 L-78 SS Camaro to be able to cruise the strip on Saturday nights on a part time, after-school grocery clerk salary. For comparison, just about an hour ago here in the Midwest I filled up for $1.83 per gallon, which according to the gov’t inflation calculator works out to 46 cents a gallon in 1977 money. That’s pretty much right on the money for 1977 regular, pun intended.

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