It’s 5 December 1973, and we’re heading down the Holloway Road towards Islington and ultimately into the City of London. It’s cold and, as you can see, it’s all kicking off at the local petrol station as drivers patiently wait to fill up their cars and vans at 33p per gallon. This, when £25 a week is a decent working wage. So, why is the scene so busy?
Well, back in October, the Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) had imposed an oil embargo on a number of countries which were seen to have supported Israel during the Yom Kippur War. The United Kingdom was in the first wave of embargoes (alongside Canada, Holland, Japan and the USA) and the effects on the UK’s petrol supplies had been swift and extremely damaging. Petrol’s now getting expensive and people are queueing – sometimes for hours – to get even a couple of quids’ worth of the stuff.
And now, in the lead-up to Christmas, with the supply of petrol slashed and price rises already hitting hard, it’s proving to be a tough winter for anyone relying on their cars to get by. This price shock comes on the back of rising food prices caused by global shortages, and an inflation rate rapidly heading towards 20%. And it looks like things are going to get worse before they get better, with car manufacturers already struggling with their profitability in light of falling sales of larger, more profitable, cars.
So, tell us about the cars
On Holloway Road, the mix of cars is interesting, as it looks like Londoners are already decently well-equipped to deal with the Energy Crisis. The Fiat 128 nearest to us, and behind the Bedford CA van, should average almost 40mpg at the 50mph limit that would be temporarily introduced. The Mini and Morris Minor up ahead were also pretty effective, too. There’s a Toyota Corona in front of the Mini and next to the kiosk on the left-hand side – that would make an interesting comparison with the Ford Cortina Mk3 ahead of that on the right.
It’s not much better out in the suburbs, below, with even longer queues. And with drivers limited to £5’s worth of fuel at this station it’s bad news for some of the drivers patiently waiting. At the head of the queue, just leaving the shot, is a Fiat 130 Coupe, followed by a Ford Cortina, a Rover 3500 (P6), and indeterminate BMC/BL 1100/1300 (ADO16), a Toyota Crown, a Ford Capri, a Toyota 1000, a Rover P6, a Singer Vogue (Rootes Arrow-flavoured), a Ford Cortina, and another Rover P6…
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