Gas rationing in the '80s?

I got an e-mail today, urging everyone to strike a blow against terrorism by boycotting gas stations that import from the Middle East. (Since I don’t drive, not a problem – though there are plenty of terrorist-types in non-Middle-Eastern countries, too.) I won’t bother you with the whole thing, but the opening paragraph caught my eye:

= = = = = = = = = =

We CAN buy gasoline that’s not from Middle East. Why didn’t George W. think of this? Gas rationing in the 80’s worked even though we grumbled about it. It might even be good for us!

= = = = = = = = = =

OK, like I said, I do not drive. But I don’t recall any gas rationing in the '80s. I remember long lines and shortages in the '70s, but never rationing. (I have some dim recollection of odd / even plans, but I don’t recall if they were ever put in place.)

So, can someone with a better memory enlighten me? Thanks!

– Beruang

I think the rationing in California was around 1979. I had my first car (a 1966 MGB), which I had gotten running around 1979/1980. People were allowed to refuel their cars every other day, based on whether their license plate ended in an odd or even number. Personalized plates were considered odd-numbered. Since my summer job was a long way away, it could’ve been a pain; but my plate was MY66MGB. It was a personalized plate, so it was “odd”, but the six in it was even.

There were also shortages and rationing in 1973/1974 at the time of the first oil embargo (the second being in 1979), but of course I was too young to drive then.

Yeah, in the 70’s I think gas went from about 89 cents to $1.59 & they made topping off a no-no. That license plate idea was weird.

Right now, gasoline prices in Los Angeles are higher than they were in Hilo, which I find quite surprising.

Except, that wasn’t really rationing, was it? As I recall, you could still buy as much as you wanted, but were simply restricted to when you could make the purchase. Fear of running out probably cut down on joy-riding, but I don’t know if you could call it “rationing” as we commonly understand the word.

You could buy as much as you wanted (odd/even system notwithstanding), however the trouble was finding an open station that had gas. The stations would put out colored flags to show if they had gas or not – red = no gas, yellow = gas for emergency vehicles only, green = GAS HERE NOW! I remember riding down the streets and seeing row after row of red-flagged gas stations, and the rare green-flag station would have a half-mile line of cars waiting to fill up. (And they might have limited it to X number of gallons, too. I never bought gas then…was only 13…but I did get to wait in an ungodly number of lines.)

The bulk of the crisis was 1979 and although a bit of it trickled into 1980, calling it the “80’s gas crisis” is a bit misleading. They probably said that to differentiate it from the 1973 crisis, which I barely remember at all.

Is your email similar to this UL - see ?

We took our two oldest boys camping across the country in 1979 and everyone said we were crazy. Instead it was great. There were very few campers so there was no hunting spaces, even at the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. At Disneyland, there were no lines and we bought extra tickets to ride more of the best rides. I forgot to get gas before going to Disneyland and so ended up sitting in our only gas line during the whole trip. In California, people kept pointing at our car and I finally figured out it was because you just didn’t see any out-of-state cars.

I do remember gas rationing, but that was back during WWII. Somewhere we have a few stamps saved that my folks didn’t use.

Circa 1979 we had odd/even fueling days, based on plate number.

IIRC the rationing was not done at the retail level but at the wholesale level. Which was why the gas stations would run out.