By Dave Ashton
If you own any type of vehicle with a large displacement engine, it goes with the territory that the thing will be thirsty. Muscle cars are no exception, but the cost of refueling is usually way down the list after looks, performance, power, condition, and overall street cred. While the cost of fuel shouldn’t be a priority for this type of vehicle, it’s still worth knowing the figures, even if we do choose to selectively forget…
Gas Prices Through History
As the pertinent focus here is muscle cars which were born in the US, we will focus on car fuel prices from the USA. Fuel prices in other countries such as those in Europe are wildly different, basically far more expensive. So, no matter the cost of fuel in the US, it will always be cheaper than its European counterparts.
Checking out the national US average fuel price at aaa.com, the national average fuel price per gallon on 3/22/2022 is $4.242.
In one online video, we found a Dodge Charger owner who said it would cost him roughly $140 for a full tank of fuel. This cost was obviously a general guess, so we headed over to fueleconomy.gov https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=42391 then checked out the fuel figures for a 2020 Dodge Charger (5.7L V8, 8-speed auto).
For a 2020 Dodge Charger with a fuel economy of 19 combined MPG, and a regular gas price of $4.32, the website says the cost of filling a tank of 18.5 gallons is $88…. quite a difference. The website also spat out the figures of 15,000 annual miles costing $6,750.
So, this is where we are at with current fuel prices. But what did our parents and grandparents pay for the enjoyment of running a car that was louder than thunder? The website titlemax.com has kindly put together an infographic of gas prices from 1929-2015 as below, also with adjustments to today’s money. As the classic muscle car era was roughly 1968-1974, the 1968 gas price was $0.34 or $1.79 converted to today’s money. In 1973 the oil crisis began, raising prices to $0.39, which then jumped to $0.59 in 1974.
In recent times (pre-2015), the highest cost of fuel was $3.64 per gallon in 2012 ($3.80 per gallon today), dropping to $2.45 in 2015. As above, in 2022 the price per gallon has risen to the national average of $4.242.
What to Expect Next…
Let’s face it, when you buy any type of muscle car it’s a given you will spend a lot of time at the fuel pumps. Any type of thoroughbred vehicle requires extra ongoing costs, be it fuel, maintenance, or your own personal grades. An old saying went – if you can afford the car, you should be able to afford the fuel bill. This saying is quite dismissive, but it does reiterate the fact that you should know what you are getting into…
We also have a crossroads coming up in the near future where we will have to decide between owning electric and/or ICE vehicles. Without going into the pros and cons of each type, muscle car fans will inevitably have to deal with a slow but steady hike in fuel prices over the coming years.
However, one of the reasons for showing the back history of fuel prices is to show that no matter the cost of refueling over the years, it has not stopped muscle car ownership. On paper, the fuel hike from 1968($0.34) to 2015($2.45) and 2022($4.24) should have made us all by now drive around in 1 liter or less travel pods, not 6.2L supercharged V8 behemoths. This shows that there is far more to the enjoyment of a muscle car than simply the cost of fuel.
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