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View Full Version : Have a few questions about the late '70's, early '80's



TheNightTerror
05-16-2005, 01:17 PM
You'd think it would've occured to me to post here sooner, but nope! :tongue The story I'm working on is set in both a time and a place I've never been in, so I probably could use a little extra info on it. I'm setting the story in two fictional small towns, one a two hour drive west of Denver, Colorado, and another half way between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma. The story starts in the Oklahoma town in fall '76, moves to the Denver town in summer '77, and back to the Oklahoma town either fall '78, or spring '79.

The main character is extremely poor for the early portion of the story, so I mainly was hoping for information on money related stuff. Don't even need exact answers, vague guesses and web pages which might have the info would work. :) Here are my questions:

1. What was the minimum wage in Oklahoma and Colorado in those time periods? Was it adjusted at any point, and if so, when?

2. What was the price of gas?

3. After the character gets some cash, she buys a car, and me being the muscle car fanatic I am, I want her to get her hands on a '68 Dodge Charger, preferably with the 426 cubic inch engine. If it was still in decent shape in '77, anyone have a guess about how much money you'd need to pay for it?

Thanks! :D

triceretops
05-16-2005, 01:35 PM
I'll take a wild stab at it. The dodge might have gone for around $1,500 to $1,800. Gas would have been around 50 to 75 cents a gallon. 2.65 minimun?

Now, I did not research this. Just trying to remember my Arkansas days.

Tri

johnnysannie
05-16-2005, 05:31 PM
The minimum wage in the late 1970's was $2.10 an hour although some jobs (such as waitress work which I did when I was 16) paid only $l, $l.25 per hour. Sounds so low now but prices were also a lot cheaper. A pack of cigs back then was about 55 to 60 cents, a cheeseburger at McD's was about 35 cents, one of my formals for prom cost about $30, the very nice dress from a fine women's dress shop for graduation in '79 cost $24.

Gas prices - average around 85 cents per gallon at the max, 55 cents per gallon at the lowest.

I paid $650 in 1979 for a 1968 Chevy Nova in nice shape with a custom paint job. Not a muscle car by any means, though. One of my boyfriends at that time had a boss Dodge Charger for which he'd paid around $1200 and then done some work on to make it major cool.

Hope this helps you!

MadScientistMatt
05-16-2005, 06:28 PM
That Charger would have been something people were desparate to get rid of in the oil-starved '70s. It might get 12 mpg on a good day, so your heroine might be cursing its mileage if she's poor. Some lucky bargain hunters have reported people finding such cars for as low as $750 back then, but it may have cost as much as $1,500. The price would have probably fallen when the second gas crisis struck.

Tish Davidson
05-16-2005, 09:29 PM
Try using dMarie time capsule at http://www.dmarie.com/timecap/

All you have to do is enter a date. I put in June 1, 1978 and this is a partial list of what was returned. The site also lists top songs, tv shows and toys of the time, as well as top politicians and academy award winners for the year.

1978 Prices Milk: $1.44/gal Eggs: $1.31/doz Car: $6,379 Gas: $0.65/gal House: $62,500 Stamp: $0.15/ea Avg Income: $20,091/yr Min Wage: $2.65/hr DOW Avg: 805

TheNightTerror
05-17-2005, 01:13 AM
:D Thanks for the input everyone! :Thumbs:


The minimum wage in the late 1970's was $2.10 an hour although some jobs (such as waitress work which I did when I was 16) paid only $l, $l.25 per hour.

GOLD! :D I got the idea from somewhere that you had to be over 18 to work as a waitress, and one of the characters was probably going to work as a waitress.


I paid $650 in 1979 for a 1968 Chevy Nova in nice shape with a custom paint job. Not a muscle car by any means, though. One of my boyfriends at that time had a boss Dodge Charger for which he'd paid around $1200 and then done some work on to make it major cool.

Hope this helps you!

Definitely. ;) Any info at all that pushes me in the right direction helps. :)


That Charger would have been something people were desparate to get rid of in the oil-starved '70s. It might get 12 mpg on a good day, so your heroine might be cursing its mileage if she's poor.

I'll have to remember that. It would actually fit in perfectly with the story, the main character ends up loosing easy access to her money for a little while.


The price would have probably fallen when the second gas crisis struck.

Hmmm. Around when did that happen? (I lack common knowledge, as you may have guessed. The main character would almost certainly be buying the car around August - September '77 with my current timeline, but I can still adjust it.)


Try using dMarie time capsule at http://www.dmarie.com/timecap/

Hello! :D Definitely should be interesting to snoop in.

I forgot to mention it, but is there a place where I could find what phase the moon would be in on a specific date? Or would I find that if I looked in that site harder? When I write, I always choose a specific date for whatever happens, and knowing the moon phases would probably stop me from either saying there was a full moon, or no moon, out. I have to fit in one full moon description, sadly enough. The last time I went out hell raising with a friend of mine, we went racing around a corner doing about 140 km/h and saw this absolutely gorgeous moon. Should make for a fun description to do, I wanna give it a shot. :)

katiemac
05-17-2005, 07:06 AM
See if you can get your hands on some old almanacs at your local library to help you out with the moon phases. Otherwise, I'm sure you can pull *something* up on Google.

Tish Davidson
05-17-2005, 09:23 AM
US Naval Observatory



http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneDay.html

You can obtain the times of sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset, transits of the Sun and Moon, and the beginning and end of civil twilight, along with information on the Moon's phase by specifying the date and location in one of the two forms provided and clicking on the "Get data" button at the end of the form.

johnnysannie
05-17-2005, 06:25 PM
The worst of the energy crisis of the 70's was history by the late 70's and Chargers were considered cool wheels. Gas prices - especially compared to now - were not that high and my boyfriend that had a Charger never took fuel costs into consideration 'cause he loved his car.

Another boyfriend of the era had a 1973 Mustang Mach One and that was a super cool car, very admired. My coz had a '68 Chevelle and it was cherry. It sold it when he married, though.

TheNightTerror
05-30-2005, 09:42 AM
US Naval Observatory



http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneDay.html

You can obtain the times of sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset, transits of the Sun and Moon, and the beginning and end of civil twilight, along with information on the Moon's phase by specifying the date and location in one of the two forms provided and clicking on the "Get data" button at the end of the form.

I could've sworn I posted another thank you note in this thread, but apparently I didn't. :Wha: THANK YOU! That site's a gold mine, I've been working on the story a little over week now, and I've been visiting that site almost every time I pick a date for a scene, even if it only takes place during the day.


The worst of the energy crisis of the 70's was history by the late 70's and Chargers were considered cool wheels. Gas prices - especially compared to now - were not that high and my boyfriend that had a Charger never took fuel costs into consideration 'cause he loved his car.

Yeah, if I ever got my hands on a Charger, I certainly wouldn't care about the gas prices. I could probably just sit and stare at it if I couldn't actually afford the gas to drive it. '68 Chargers are easily my favorite cars ever made at the moment. :D Hidden headlights + lots of muscle + good looking car = lovestruck TNT. :)

I just wanted to thank everyone who gave me any info at all again, too, so far I feel like my story's way more detailed than it normally is, it's really handy having info on the money related stuff. I just have two last questions, they're not too terribly urgent. Does anyone have a rough guess on how much it would cost per month to rent a run-down, one bedroom apartment, back in '76 and '77? And, what would an average grocery bill cost if you went once a week or so? (I'd probably just deduct a bit from that, since the two people living in the apartment can't afford to spend much on food.)

Aconite
05-30-2005, 05:08 PM
Back in the days when I was looking for my first used car, guides warned consumers to look for signs that a car had been designed to use unleaded gas but altered to let it use leaded, which--IIRC--was cheaper, or at least easer to come by in some places. Altering the car this way was illegal, again IIRC. Anyone know if this type of car could have been so altered? That could affect the price.

johnnysannie
06-01-2005, 06:49 PM
A rundown one-bedroom apartment would run in the ballpark figure of $75-90 a month. If it was really rundown and tacky, maybe a little less.

Grocery bills - that one is a little harder because it depends on what a person had to spend and tastes - but on the average, I'd say - for one to two people - a week's groceries would have cost about $35-40 bucks....more if they were in the money or flush, a little less if they don't mind eating pot pies and a lot of beans.

MadScientistMatt
06-01-2005, 08:45 PM
Back in the days when I was looking for my first used car, guides warned consumers to look for signs that a car had been designed to use unleaded gas but altered to let it use leaded, which--IIRC--was cheaper, or at least easer to come by in some places. Altering the car this way was illegal, again IIRC. Anyone know if this type of car could have been so altered? That could affect the price.

No, there would be no need to alter it. In 1968 the cars were designed for leaded. Some of them have issues with unleaded, in fact. I'm not sure about the Hemi, but the 440 Wedge that was also an option has a reputation for wearing out valve seats if run on unleaded gas. This isn't going to be a very big problem, but if the car needs a head gasket the mechanic may mention something about valve seat recession. The cure he'd probably advocate would be some expensive machine work to install hardened valve seats. On a 440, a cheaper cure is to install a later set of cylinder heads pulled from a junkyard. Not an option on a Hemi given how hard they are to find and that they never had cylinder heads designed for unleaded.

Incedently, my parents sold a '71 Charger in 1978 to buy a Honda. The big oil crisis may have been over, but gas prices still were high enough to make muscle cars a bit pricey to own. (And my dad's still kicking himself for that decision.)

TheNightTerror
06-02-2005, 11:05 AM
:D The money related stuff in the story is coming out really well now, as far as I can tell, I haven't left any stones unturned. I sat down and worked out the amount of cash everyone would have, so hopefully it's semi-realistic at the moment.

I did some more research on the '68 Charger, and ended up making the car cost $1,300. I had no idea how rare they were, apparently only about 500 '68 Charger R/Ts were made with the Hemi engine, ended up giving it the 4 speed manual transmission as well. God, that would be fun to drive. :D Just thinking about the car is making me drool again . . .