On this day in auto history – May 14th

Fri 14th May 2021

It was on this day in 1957 that Britain breathed a huge collected sigh of relief when the petrol rationing brought in due to the Suez crisis was finally abolished, ending five months of total chaos.

Petrol had been in short supply after Egyptian President, Gamal Abdul Nasser, took over the running of the Suez Canal from a Franco-British company the previous summer, prompting controversial military action from Britain and France which eventually culminated in the resignation of British Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden.

Though the crisis had been largely resolved by December 1956, the ensuing fallout had caused fuel shortages throughout Europe, prompting the British government to embark on a period of draconian rationing which limited normal car users to just 200 miles per month in petrol.

Businesses, farmers, religious ministers and local authority workers were less restricted, whilst a third group consisting of doctors, midwives, disabled drivers and veterinary surgeons were subject to no rationing at all.

The rationing caused national chaos, characterised by ‘panic buying’, huge price hikes and a prolonged period of near-deserted roads with traffic in London reported to be down by as much as two thirds.