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Gasoline with lead added to it, brought gradually into use during the 1920's and outlawed in the United States in 1986.

This additive was thought to improve engine performance and provide other benefits, although it was later decided the benefits of leaded gasoline had been overstated - and the health dangers of leaded gasoline ignored.

Although I have found many articles by reputed journalists claiming there were dangers of leaded gasoline maliciously concealed by gasoline companies, there seem to be no allegations of the overpricing of unleaded gasoline by even the harshest critics of these companies.

Leaded gasoline generally has a much higher octane rating than unleaded. Many people who own classic cars originally designed to run on leaded gasoline now have to run the highest possible octane gas from the pump to get reasonable performance.

Leaded gasoline is still in production and use. It is used, for example, as high performance race fuel at drag strips. Many strips have leaded gas for sale at pumps strip-side. Octane ratings of 100, 110 and 115 are not uncommon. The anti-detonation properties of race gas is not to be underestimated. Using leaded gasoline in a turbocharged engine is generally the most desirable thing to do when trying to stave off detonation during hard drag runs.

Leaded gas will however destroy oxygen sensors over a period of time. Most electronically-controlled engine systems now use these sensors. Therefore it is not a good idea to use it unless you like changing them fairly often. Leaded gas is also very bad for catalytic converters. It's also illegal for use on the street, so beware.

It is counterintuitive that the addition of an ingredient (lead to gasoline) would produce a lower priced product. However, unleaded gasoline requires more refinement in order to be usable by internal combustion engines. Adding lead allowed oil refiners to short cut the refinement process. Fewer steps in the refinement process results in a lower cost product.

As with most material products, the cost of processing/manufacturing/producing/refining/distilling comprises a greater percentage of production costs than the cost of raw materials.

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