Gas and Gears: How Much Was a Gallon the Year You Got Your License?
I started driving legally in 1982. I remember being so anxious and excited to get to the Driver's License Division and get my license as a 16-year old.
I had one big issue though.
Our family had two cars, and they were both stick shifts (do they still make those?). While I had been practicing with these standard transmissions, I was not what I would have called "test ready."
In fact, my Dad once told me I drive like a 9-year-old after I had stalled the engine in the middle of 90th South in Sandy.
Anyway, I had a plan to get up early on my 16th birthday (it was a Saturday, I believe) and head over to the DLD.
I don't know how it happened, but someone suggest I take the test in my sister's fiancé's car. It was a sweet cherry red Chevelle SS with silver pipes and an engine that purred like a lion.
The situation was perfect, because my future brother-in-law was two things: 1. A heck of a nice guy, and 2. Still in that "trying to impress his fiancé by being super nice to her little brother" phase.
Anyway, the two came with me to get my license and I'm happy to report that I passed on the first try.
On the way home, some knothead pulled in front of us on Redwood Road and I (probably unnecessarily) swerved to miss the other car. My future BIL remarked that it was great driving and I probably saved their lives.
Of course, at the time, I had no idea that he was just being nice, but he made me feel like I was the best new driver in the history automobiles.
All I knew was I had a brand-spanking new driver's license, a cool part-time job (working at a pizza joint) and was driving a hot rod up Redwood.
Life was good.
As time went on, I realized that was the first step toward adulthood and I wish I hadn't hurried so much to grow up.
Before long, I would be on the hook for things like rent, utilities, groceries, and buying gas for my vehicles.
That fateful day gas was 34 cents a gallon, about 1/10th what it is right now. I wish I could go back and savor that moment.
Check out this list of gas prices through the ages: