Vintage Snapshots: “No More Gas Today” – The First Energy Crisis, 1973

As the recent pandemic reminded us, there are events that shake daily life’s foundations. And while life always returns to ‘normal,’ on certain occasions, one can be certain that things will never be quite the same.

The energy crisis of 1973 was such an event, and there were aftershocks in the automotive world still felt to this day. Fifty years later. Those who lived those days won’t ever forget them. Those who didn’t, can’t quite imagine the ordeal that period images clearly show.

Today’s images come from the National Archives and have been slightly color-corrected for this post. As for commentary, I’ll limit myself to quoting the text that accompanied each photo in their original Flickr page.

Average gas station in Portland, Dec. 1973. “Early morning hour of pumping when gas was limited on a first-come, first-serve basis to five gallons per auto.” December, 1973.

“Solid lines of cars such as this scene in Portland resulted in a first-come, first-served limit of five gallons. Shortly thereafter, Oregon went to a system dispensing gas according to license numbers.” December, 1973.

“Gasoline shortage hit the state of Oregon in the fall of 1973, by midday gasoline was becoming unavailable along interstate highways.” October, 1973.

“Prior to regulation of fuel sales in Oregon, some dealers attempted to sell only to their regular customers.” January, 1974.

“A dealer in Tigard (Oregon) pumped gas only to regular customers. The driver in this picture was refused service.” January, 1974.

“Lone car on a street usually filled with Sunday drivers.” December, 1973.

“Manis stations, such as this one in Portland, began using a ‘Sorry’ sign on the last car to get gas.” December, 1973.

“Imported gasoline was sold during the fuel crisis in the fall and winter of 1972-74. It was as much as twice the price of domestic gas.” February, 1974.

“Imported gasoline was available in Oregon during the fuel crisis at double the cost of the domestic fuel. Only when things began to get desperate did customers pay the price.” March, 1974.

“Traffic on I-5 was less than normal on the first Sunday afternoon on the nationwide ban on gasoline sales.” December, 1973.

“‘No Gas’ signs were a common sight in Oregon during the fall of 1973. This station was open for any  business other than selling gasoline.” October, 1973.