Lonely Planet Writer

Why these quirky gas stations could make your road trip more interesting

Have you ever been on a road trip and wondered where all those random gas stations came from? If so, then look no further. It’s a Gas: The Allure of the Gas Station is a new photography book out which documents the world’s weirdest gas stations, one at a time.

Chevron Boat Fueling Station, Vancouver. Image by Joe Daniel Price

It’s mostly an ode to retro gas stations, postwar design in Europe and 1950s Americana, though there are dozens of futuristic-looking gas stations throughout the world, many of which are photographed here either at night or in complete desolation.

Quirky gas station “The Mushroom” in Denmark. Image by Alastair Philip Wiper

The book, edited by Sascha Friesike, features the stranger variety of gas stations like the Bomber gas station, where a Second World War B-17 bomber on the roof of a petrol stop in Milwaukee, and the gas station in Denmark nicknamed “The Mushroom” because of its elliptical canopy.

Roy’s Motel and Café on Route 66 in the Mojave Desert. Image by Ralph Graef

It also features gas stations in the middle of the desert, like Roy’s Motel and Café, a gas station built on Route 66 in the Mojave Desert in California, and gas stations for boats in the middle of picturesque lakes. Some of the world’s most renowned gas stations that have closed are also in the book, as well as drawings of those which were never made (including designs by Frank Lloyd Wright), the most noteworthy ghost town gas stations, pit stops for road trippers and colorful gas stations in Thailand.

The cover of the book. Image by Gestalten Books

Jay Leno, the former late night talk show host and car fanatic, wrote the book’s preface, and says they’re more than just a place to fill up the tank. “Gas stations are still a place to check out cars, especially on the weekends in Los Angeles, when folks bring out their special rides for a cruise in town, and you never know what you’ll see,” he writes.

A German petrol station in 1958. Image by Dodenhoff

But it’s also perhaps the most Instagrammable place to stop in the middle of a road trip, not only to take photos with these vintage architectural masterpieces, but also to spot any celebrity sightings. “The gas station is a democratic space, where, like death and taxes, everybody has to go sometime; you’ll see a new Bentley in the same station as a beat-up Ford wagon, but it’s also a great place to talk to people about their cars – how do you like it? Is it a piece of junk? What gas mileage do you get?” writes Leno in his preface. “I get asked a lot of questions about the cars I drive when I’m at Los Angeles’s gas stations, it’s the democracy of the fill-up; people get to ask questions, and get to take selfies, and I’m okay with that.”