Time Cost of Gas Is Less Than Half the Cost in 1940
A comment by Gale Pooley on this CD post suggested adjusting the cost of gas to account for increases in worker productivity over time, and the chart above does just that. It shows the time cost of a gallon of gas, measured by the number of minutes of work at the average hourly manufacturing wage (BLS data here) required to purchase a gallon of gas at the nominal, retail price in each year between 1939 and 2010 (EIA data here).
It took just slightly less than 9 minutes of work at the average hourly wage of $18.56 last year to purchase a gallon of gas at the average price of $2.77 per gallon in 2010. That's a lower time cost than in all of the years between 1939 and 1958, and less than half the time cost of gas in the 1939-1941 period.