Wow, it just doesn't seem possible, but the August 2009 issue you are holding in your hands almost marks my third year as the editor of Custom Classic Trucks. This means to date I have written 35 editorials, which computes into almost 35,000 words of well, maybe not wisdom but at least what I hope has been decent entertainment for CCT's valued readers. On the serious side, I have shared some important issues with you folks when it comes to matters that affect the future of classic trucking. It's no secret that with the collapse of America's automobile industry there's businessmen and politicians alike scrambling to come up with effective schemes to boost new automobile sales. The business of sustainability as they like to package it, a friendly green face with automobile scrappage programs modeled after "Cash for Clunkers" at the forefront.
Here in my home state of California the bureaucrats at CARB have moved on from their "cool paints" initiative to ban black paintjobs and have announced their Enhanced Fleet Modernization Program (EFMP). No it's not a rub-on lotion or a special pill to make that certain part of one's automobile larger, but rather a proposal to augment California's existing vehicle scrappage program. The idea is to target pre-1976 vehicles that are not required to undergo smog check inspections. Quoting directly from the legislative alert I received from our friends at SEMA; "According to CARB, allowing vehicles that are not currently undergoing registration or that have passed their Smog Check to participate greatly expands the vehicle population that can be retired. Participants would receive $1,000 per vehicle or $1,500 per vehicle if they meet low-income requirements. The proposal would also establish a pilot voucher program in theSouth Coast and San Joaquin Valley air basins that targets the highest-emitting vehicles and requires their replacement with newer, cleaner vehicles. The local air districts would work with the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) to determine vehicle eligibility and low-income status. Once approved, the districts would provide the applicant a Letter of Eligibility from BAR and a redeemable voucher. Consumers would retire their vehicle at a participating dismantler, receiving an immediate compensation of $1,000 - $1,500 for vehicle retirement. Consumers could then redeem their voucher at participating car dealerships toward the purchase of a replacement vehicle. CARB is proposing that the voucher compensation be $2,000 or $2,500 per vehicle depending on income level. CARB will conduct a public hearing to consider adoption of the proposed Enhanced Fleet Modernization Program Regulation (Car Scrap) on June 25-26, 2009."
This issue shipped to the printer on June 5, 2009 and the link SEMA included to view the proposal in its entirety wasn't up, so I can't really comment on what it contained. All I can say is if the EFMP program does pass I hope there will be a provision included to allow the recycling of body parts and driveline components that allow vintage vehicle conservationists to pursue their hobby instead of the scrap metal being shipped to China. Beyond being just a hobby, customizing a classic truck with new parts sourced from America's specialty equipment aftermarket and recycling modern technologies salvaged from newer American vehicles helps to decrease one's carbon footprint, and channel U.S. dollars back into the U.S. economy. OK, so I'm a little full of baloney because we all know aftermarket and OE manufacturers on both sides of the fence have resorted to outsourcing to some degree, but I still believe it's a valid point. Part two of what I wasn't able to find out was whether CARB is only talking about people buying brand-new cars (as I suspect) or if poor folks (like myself) will be able to upgrade to a more economical and less polluting newer used vehicle. A good example would be switching from a mid-'70's ghetto cruiser that maybe gets around 12 mpg to something like a late-'90s Buick Rivera with a blown 3.8 V-6 that delivers up to 30 mpg, and still can run the 1/4-mile in a little over 15 seconds.
I'm mentioning the mid-'80's and up vehicles because most Americans were left with such a bad taste in their mouth from owning '70s and '80's U.S. made cars that they'd never purchase another American brand if the government made them do it. It's too bad things turned out this way because based on my own experience I think by the mid-'80s the American manufacturers were producing as a good a product as anyone out there, but unfortunately at the same time customers were still getting treated bad at the dealerships. Our friends at SEMA are on top of this situation, to learn more about what's going on in this arena without having to read my admittedly somewhat odd style, please check out www.semasan.org; you'll be glad you did.John Gilbert