In Trinidad, Colo, a motorist chirped "Fill 'er up," started to roll away with a brimful tank of unrationed gasoline. Then the tank fell off.

The U.S. citizen could find some symbolism in the Trinidad incident. Official Washington, dazed by the swift shift to reconversion, was certain of one thing: the tank was filling up, reconversion was happening. But how smoothly the engine would run, how well the tank would stay put, how far the tired tires would hold up on the way to the good old days, was still largely a matter...

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