Gas Prices in 1939

Those were simpler (and cheaper) times!

 

10 Comments

16¢ in 1939 dollars equals a little less that $3.00 in 2019 dollars. Not actually cheaper.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, today’s prices in 2019 are 1,751.41% higher than average prices throughout 1939. Correspondingly, 16 cents in 1939 equates to almost $3.00 in 2019.

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I paid $0.19/gal in 1960s!

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Just look at the freeways. The cost of gasoline doesn’t appear to have reduced traffic volumes much if any.

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The gasoline also wasn’t as well refined as today’s; and they were adding tetraethyl lead to reduce engine knock and improve longevity of engine parts. The lead additive is still a worldwide environmental contaminant.

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I paid 15.9 cents per gallon at Chief Timp Conoco in Orem, UT in 1969. Plus I got my windows washed, oil checked, and tire pressure checked (on request).

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And also a complicated time. I lived in Los Angeles at the time of the first Oil Crisis. For the first time gasoline went above $1. Unfortunately the pump price went to only $0.999. Some stations solved this by selling by the liter (about one US quart). The prices became about $0.30.

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In the late ’60s or early ’70s, I remember seeing a gas pump with a price of $0.99 per gallon(!!) It turned out that they had a spare pump that they were allowing a local helicopter pilot to use for helicopter fuel. Every so often, he’d set down right at the station to refuel. $0.99 was thought to be so outrageously high that none of their regular customers would ever ask to use it.

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When I got my first car gas varied between $.33/35 cents per gallon (’60/’61 VW, bought used in ’67; no gas gauge, it had a 10-gallon tank and a one-gallon reserve tank). I calculated my miles per gallon and usually drove a whole month to/from work, grocery store, etc., without having to refill the tank. To travel across three and a half states on vacation to visit my family, I calculated mileage between towns, stopped in large towns where I figured gas stations would be open 24 hrs, and (luckily) never had any problems doing that 2400 mile round trip with the VW, or my next car, a ’72 Dodge Colt I drove off the lot brand new (best car I ever owned). Those were the days….

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