BBC Autos

The Roundabout Blog

Car-spotting: 1973 fuel crisis

About the author

Editor of BBC Autos, Matthew is a former editor at Automobile Magazine and the creator of the digital-only Roadtrip Magazine. His automotive and travel writing has appeared in such magazines as Wired, Popular Science, The Robb Report and Caribbean Travel + Life. He lives in Los Angeles with his wonderful wife and four-year-old daughter.


Filling up, Portland, Oregon. (David Falconer/EPA /US National Archives)

Filling up, Portland, Oregon. (David Falconer/EPA /US National Archives)

Impalas and Imperials and Mustangs, oh my!

What can you spot in this early-morning view of a service station in Portland, Oregon, snapped during the oil crisis of 1973? Gasoline was sold on a first-come, first-served basis, with fill-ups limited to five gallons per car. The fuel shortage began on 17 October 1973, when the members of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) decided to cease oil exports to nations that had supported Isreal during its conflict with Egypt and Syria, better known as the Yom Kippur War. The embargo caused a fuel shortages in the US, western Europe and Japan that lasted until march of 1974 and changed the car industry forever.

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