In some ways, the gasoline shortage of 1973 and 1974 was worse than the rationing during World War II.
Civilian driving was curtailed severely during the war, but Americans accepted it even though they didn't like it. There was a good reason behind the hardship: The oil was needed to fuel ships, planes, tanks and Jeeps in foreign war zones. Drivers made do with their four gallons of gasoline a week.
But in 1973-74, there was no good reason for the shortage. Some billionaire sheiks half a world way had stopped exporting oil to the United States. What right did they have to do that?
Actually, they had every right. After all, it was their oil!
The embargo began Oct. 16, 1973, and ended March 18, 1974, but U.S. sales did not bounce back. New-car deliveries in 1974 were down 23 percent from 1973. Automakers began talking about smaller, lighter cars. It was another milestone in the history of the U.S. auto industry.