As I mentioned in the previous post, gasoline has truly left its mark on society. But gasoline has done more than that, it has pushed forward and spurred the development of the automobile. Pictured is a restored vintage gas pump. It is an interesting piece of history that holds a bit of romance for most people who behold it, not bearing what once came out of it. The gas pump itself has even been immortalized by the great 20th century painter Edward Hopper in his classic 1940 painting Gas.
What is worth noting though, is that it has only one grade of fuel offered. Not only that, but the grade of the fuel is not specified on the pump. Contrary to today, in which gas grades (measured by its octane rating) are clearly separated and rigidly enforced, gasoline used to be loosely regulated and completely unrated. The octane rating for gasoline sold well into the 1950's was not entirely specific and varied from station to station, pump to pump. For the most part though, the leaded gasoline sold before WWII had an octane rating of between 45 and 55.
The low octane rating created many problems that manifested themselves in the ways car were designed and the way they performed. Stay tuned for how poor gas helped to understate the true potential of many of yester-year's cars.