Feeling nostalgic for the days of 17 cent gas in 1931, 20 cent gas during WWI, the gas below 30 cents during the first half of the 1950s, or the $1.40 gas of the early 1980s? If so, you'd be suffering from "money illusion," the tendency to confuse nominal and real (inflation-adjusted) prices. Gas is cheaper today in real dollars than any of those past prices. The chart above displays real gas prices going back to 1919 (EIA data here), showing that the current national average price of $2.12 is below the price of gas during the entire decades of the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, about the same as the average price during the entire 1960s, below the average price during the 1970s, and below the average real price of gas during the entire 1919-2008 period ($2.36).
Note: This analysis compares the current average retail price of $2.22 per gallon (according to AAA) to the average real gas prices (in 2008 dollars) annually for years from 1919 to 2007, for comparison purposes of what American consumers are paying today for gas versus what consumers paid for gas in the past. Also, the EIA data in 2007 dollars have been adjusted here to 2008 dollars.