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The cost of gasoline the year you started driving

Stacker Logo By Sophia Crisafulli of Stacker | Slide 1 of 85: Since the introduction of Henry Ford’s Model T in the early 20th century, cars and driving have become synonymous with American industry and culture. Our wheels have become more than just a way to get from A to B—they're a way to shape and define our identity. Gasoline prices have been relatively reasonable as of late, but it wasn’t long ago that Americans were trading in their H2 Hummers to avoid paying exorbitantly high gas prices, let alone waiting in line for hours at the pump in times of severe shortages. But for nearly every mile driven, American consumers find themselves inextricably linked to a complex global commodity that can have a major impact on the cost of cruising: fuel. Most of the time, both the highs and the lows are out of drivers’ hands. During the Arab-Israeli War in 1973, Arab oil manufacturers banned exports to the U.S. due to their support of Israel, leading to a gas shortage and sky-high prices. In recent years, an increase in demand for oil in developing economies alongside an expansion in production from countries (like the U.S.) that once imported most of their oil, led to a sharp drop in oil prices. Most recently, stay-at-home orders amidst the COVID-19 pandemic caused oil prices to crater as demand for oil bottomed out. To find out more about how has the price of gas changed throughout the years, Stacker ran the numbers on the cost of a gallon of gasoline for each of the last 84 years. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (released in May 2020), we analyzed the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline from 1976 to 2020 along with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for unleaded regular gasoline from 1937 to 1976, including the absolute and inflation-adjusted prices for each year. Read on to explore the cost of gas over time and rediscover just how much a gallon was when you first started driving. You may also like: Must-drive roads in every state

Since the introduction of Henry Ford’s Model T in the early 20th century, cars and driving have become synonymous with American industry and culture. Our wheels have become more than just a way to get from A to B — they're a way to shape and define our identity.

Gasoline prices have been relatively reasonable as of late, but it wasn’t long ago that Americans were trading in their H2 Hummers to avoid paying exorbitantly high gas prices, let alone waiting in line for hours at the pump in times of severe shortages. But for nearly every mile driven, American consumers find themselves inextricably linked to a complex global commodity that can have a major impact on the cost of cruising: fuel.

Most of the time, both the highs and the lows are out of drivers’ hands. During the Arab-Israeli War in 1973, Arab oil manufacturers banned exports to the U.S. due to their support of Israel, leading to a gas shortage and sky-high prices. In recent years, an increase in demand for oil in developing economies alongside an expansion in production from countries (like the U.S.) that once imported most of their oil, led to a sharp drop in oil prices. Most recently, stay-at-home orders amidst the COVID-19 pandemic caused oil prices to crater as demand for oil bottomed out.

To find out more about how has the price of gas changed throughout the years, Stacker ran the numbers on the cost of a gallon of gasoline for each of the last 84 years. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (released in May 2020), we analyzed the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline from 1976 to 2020 along with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for unleaded regular gasoline from 1937 to 1976, including the absolute and inflation-adjusted prices for each year.

Click through the gallery above to explore the cost of gas over time and rediscover just how much a gallon was when you first started driving.

You may also like: Must-drive roads in every state

© Boston Globe Contributor via Boston Globe // Getty Images

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