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On the Road to Victory: Bolstered by Legislative Successes in 2008, SAN Members Look Ahead to the New Year
The most powerful tool in protecting the hobby continues to be an informed and active enthusiast. This was demonstrated in full force as SAN members from across the United States and Canada voiced their opinions to lawmakers considering hobby-related legislation. This issue of Driving Force contains a brief look at some of the legislative victories in 2008.
Emissions Test Exemption: The SAN defeated legislation that sought repeal of the state’s current emissions test exemption for pre-’76 vehicles registered by new owners in the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District. The District includes eight counties in California’s Central Valley. Under the bill, new owners seeking to register a pre-’76 vehicle in these eight counties would have been subject to emissions tests for the life of the vehicle.
Gas Guzzlers: SAN members defeated a bill that would have required the California Air Resources Board to impose a fee on the sale (or lease of one year or longer) of a new passenger motor vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 lbs. or less; a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of more than $80,000; and a federal fuel-economy rating of 15 miles per gallon or less.Emissions Inspections:The SAN defeated a bill that would have required biennial emissions inspections in all areas of the state, while retaining the existing exemptions.
Annual Inspection: SAN members in California defeated legislation to require annual smog-check inspections for vehicles 15 years old and older. The bill would also have required that funds generated through the additional inspection fees be deposited into an account which could be used to scrap older cars. Pre-’76 motor vehicles would have remained exempt under the bill.
Street Rods: SAN-supported legislation to exempt street rods from the state’s regular safety inspections was signed into law by Governor Ruth Ann Minner. Under an agreement reached with state regulators, the registration and titling process will be changed administratively to allow street rods to be assigned a registration and titling designation bearing the same model year that the body of the vehicle resembles.
“Gas Guzzlers”: The SAN defeated legislation that proposed a new-car surcharge tax, which would have escalated based on carbon emissions. Depending on the vehicle purchased, this surcharge could have required owners to pay up to $2,500 more for the vehicle and affected consumers’ ability to purchase the vehicle of their choice.
Engine Tax: SAN members defeated legislation to establish a progressive fee for state motor vehicles based on engine size. These fees would have been collected by the state at the time of initial vehicle registration and at subsequent renewals of registration. These fees would have been in addition to fees and taxes normally required for registration or renewal.
Exhaust Noise: The SAN defeated a bill that sought to ban vehicles equipped with an exhaust system “that has been modified to make more noise or sound than the vehicle made when manufactured.” The measure would have allowed law enforcement officers to seize and impound a vehicle upon making a subjective determination that the vehicle was in violation.
Replicas: A version of SEMA-model legislation to create a state motor-vehicle definition for replica vehicles and allow these vehicles to meet only the equipment and emissions standards in effect for the model year and vehicle being replicated was signed into law by Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter. The new law defines a replica vehicle as a “vehicle made to replicate any passenger car or truck previously manufactured using metal, fiberglass or other composite materials. Replica vehicles must look like the original vehicle being replicated but may use a more modern drivetrain.”
Street Rods/Customs: A version of SEMA-model legislation to create a vehicle registration classification for street rods and replica vehicles was signed into law by Governor Chet Culver. The new law defines a street rod as an altered vehicle manufactured before 1949 or a vehicle designed to resemble a vehicle manufactured before 1949. A replica vehicle is defined as a reproduction of an originally manufactured vehicle with the substitution or addition of parts to update the vehicle for purposes of safety, performance or reliability. The law allows street rods and replica vehicles to be assigned a registration designation bearing the same model year that the body of the vehicle resembles.
Project Titles: SAN-supported legislation to create classic motor-vehicle project titles was signed into law by Governor Steve Beshear. The new law applies to vehicles at least 25 years old, not road-worthy and currently without a title or with a title from another state. Under the law, a classic motor-vehicle project title would prohibit the use of vehicles bearing these titles on the highway but, once restored, a regular title could be issued.
Emissions Tax: The SAN helped defeat legislation which attempted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with a new-car surcharge tax which escalates based on carbon emissions. Depending on the vehicle purchased, this surcharge could have required owners to pay up to $2,500 more for the vehicle.
Grille Guards: New York SAN members defeated legislation to prohibit the use of grille guards attached to a motor vehicle’s chassis. The measure relied on unsubstantiated claims that grille guards create the potential of greater harm to other vehicles in the event of a collision and obstruct airbag sensors, rendering the airbags useless in an accident. The bill would have required owners of vehicles currently equipped with grille guards (including those purchased with this equipment from a dealership) to remove these guards.
Spinners: The SAN defeated legislation that would have prohibited the operation of motor vehicles equipped with spinner hubcaps. The bill would have subjected vehicle owners to fines of up to $750 for a third or subsequent violation. The measure also ignored the fact that custom wheels are not prohibited by federal law; manufacturers are required to notify the federal government of a safety problem or defect related to motor-vehicle equipment within five days of becoming aware of such issue; and that spinner hubcaps have no proven detrimental effect on motor vehicle safety.
Custom Vehicles: A version of SEMA-model legislation to create a vehicle registration and titling classification for custom vehicles was signed into law by Governor Phil Bredesen. The new law defines a custom-built car as a vehicle that is built for private use and is not constructed by a licensed manufacturer or remanufacturer. Under the law, kit cars and replica vehicles will be assigned a certificate of title bearing the same model-year designation as the production vehicle it most closely resembles.
Scrappage Program: The SAN defeated a bill that would have implemented a vehicle scrappage program and financed it with a progressive purchase and use tax and higher registration fees for some new motor vehicles based on fuel-efficiency ratings. Funds collected under the program would have been used to dismantle vehicles deemed by the state to be “clunkers,” regardless of their historical value or collector interest.
Antique Vehicles: A bill to delete the requirement that antique-vehicle safety certifications be formally notarized was signed into law by Governor Tim Kaine. In a law signed last year, Virginia antique vehicle owners were required to certify that these vehicles meet safety-equipment requirements for the model year in which they were manufactured and are capable of being safely operated on the state’s highways.
Greenhouse Gas Taxes: The SAN defeated two bills that sought to tax vehicle owners in an attempt to reduce motor-vehicle emissions. The first bill would have established two separate progressive fees for state motor vehicles based on (1) engine size and (2) calculations of carbon emissions. These fees would have been collected by the state at the time of initial vehicle registration and at subsequent renewals of registration. The second bill sought to establish a progressive annual excise tax for all passenger motor vehicles based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) fuel-economy ratings. This tax could have required some vehicle owners to pay up to $240 each year.
Inoperable Vehicles: For the third time, SAN members defeated a bill that would have further restricted the ability of vehicle hobbyists from maintaining inoperable vehicles on private property. The measure would have redefined “abandoned motor vehicles” to include vehicles or vehicle parts which are either unlicensed or inoperable, or both, are not in an enclosed building and have remained on private property for more than 30 days. Under current law, the abandoned vehicle law applies primarily to vehicles on public property. The bill would have made violation a misdemeanor offense punishable by substantial fines, community service and jail.
Antique Vehicles: SAN-supported legislation to amend state law governing antique motor vehicles to expand their permissible use was signed into law by Governor Joe Manchin. Under previous law, use of antique vehicles is strictly limited to club activities, exhibits, tours, parades, testing, obtaining repairs and for recreational purposes. The new law increases weekend use to begin on Fridays at 12:00 p.m. and extends through Monday at 12:00 p.m.
U.S. FEDERAL ISSUES
Wilderness Legislation: Congress embarked on an aggressive push to designate as much as 2 million acres of land as “wilderness.” Use of motorized vehicles is prohibited on wilderness lands. The issue is consequential to SAN members as less riding areas will be open for off-highway vehicle (OHV) use. President Bush signed into law a SAN-opposed bill creating the 106,000-acre Wild Sky Wilderness in Washington state. The SAN supported an alternative to preserve existing roads and trails on about 13,000 acres of the land. A number of other bills were being considered to designate new wilderness areas in California, Idaho and New Mexico, among other locations. The SAN has recommended that the pending legislation protect OHV use by excluding “cherry-stemmed” roads and trails.
EPA Autobody Paint Rule: The EPA issued a rule to regulate paint stripping, surface coating and autobody refinishing operations that use paints containing hazardous metal compounds. The metals may then be emitted as hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), which the agency believes may cause cancer or other health disorders. The rule applies to most coating activities that emit HAPs. However, the EPA also followed the SAN’s recommendation and exempted low-volume operations, such as when hobbyists restore or customize one or two cars. The EPA incorporated a number of other SAN suggestions to make the rule as friendly as possible for companies that have spray-coating operations. The rule effectively requires a filtered spray booth or prep station and high-volume low-pressure spray equipment.
Leaded Fuel: The Department of the Environment has delayed action for one year on a SAN-opposed proposal to terminate the current exemption for leaded gasoline used in competition motor vehicles. Under the revised regulation, the exemption will remain in place until January 1, 2010. The extension will allow all racing events in 2008 and 2009 to proceed while providing time for regulators to conduct further studies on the health risks of leaded fuel at race facilities. The SAN based its opposition to the original proposal on the fact that Environment Canada relied on no scientifically documented test data to provide evidence that increased exposure to emissions created from leaded gasoline causes adverse health effects and that competition motor vehicles use only 1.5% of all leaded gasoline consumed in Canada. According to the International Hot Rod Association, drag-racing competitions and related expenditures by race teams, event organizers and tourists amounts to a multimillion dollar windfall for regions hosting these events.
After strong recruitment in 2008, the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers with a passion for automobiles enlisted 126 new members. The caucus currently has 350 state legislators in all 50 states. The common goal of the caucus is to support the motor-vehicle hobby by raising its profile in state legislatures and in the public’s eyes. Many of these legislators are working in state capitals to protect the hobby by amending existing motor-vehicle laws and creating new pro-enthusiast programs. The caucus is being supported by SEMA’s Government Affairs Office.
HEY, THAT'S MY CAR!
Rockin’ Red Ranchero
1967 Ford Ranchero
Owner: David Ring
This ’67 Ranchero was purchased new at Doyle Ford in Susanville, California, by the manager of the local airport. He used it for daily transportation and as a utility vehicle at the airport until 1993. It was then purchased by a U.S. Forest Service Fire Investigator who painted the car, restored the interior and sold it to my brother in 1998. After it developed an engine knock, my brother sold it to me in 2003.
I pulled the original 289ci engine and found that it had a bad rod bearing. Since that time, I have replaced the original engine with a 351ci Windsor that I built, upgraded the C4 automatic transmission and installed a 9-inch rear axle in place of the 8-inch that was original.
UNDER THE HOOD: A 351 Windsor, 750-cfm Demon carb, Crower solid lifter cam, ported heads with larger valves, Hedman headers, an MSD distributor, a GM internally regulated alternator, an aluminum radiator, a trans cooler and a C4 trans.
OUTSIDE: American Torq-Thrurst D with BFGoodrich Comp TA radials. All-new suspension components with polygraphite bushings, ’68 Ford disc brakes and spindles.
INSIDE: Stock with the exception of Auto Meter gauges and tach.
Different Students, Same Results
Student-Run Car Club Has Deep Roots in the Hobby
Since its beginning in 1933, the Morrisville State College Auto Mechanic Program has helped to meet the needs of a growing market of production vehicles and the interest of students to become involved in this industry. Located in central New York, the school has strived throughout its history to be on the leading edge of technology and innovation.
In the early years, students went on field trips to local auto shows in Oneida and Syracuse and the International Diesel Plant in Auburn, New York. The curriculum then, much like it is now, included a considerable amount of work on state vehicles, as well as cars owned by the students and faculty.
With the addition of new faculty in 1946, the Automotive Technical Society was formed, which was one of Morrisville’s first clubs. The group met regularly to attend lectures, movies and demonstrations. The new club also encouraged continued membership by alumni, supported higher scholarship standards and made yearly tours of Detroit’s automotive factories.
In 1963, the club’s name was changed to the Cherry Valley Timers Association. Focus was placed on understanding automobiles with higher horsepower coming out of factories and garages. Club members enjoyed spectating and even participating at weekend drag races.
As time went on and vehicle technology become increasingly complex, the Auto Mechanic program progressed as well. Computers were added to the classroom and garage to keep up with this ever-changing technology. The club put this new knowledge to the test by competing in SAE High Mileage Contests.
In 2002, the club changed its name again to the Morrisville State College Auto Club. When faculty was challenged in keeping students interested in the program, they found a simple solution. The solution was quite simple. Stick to what worked before. Students have made trips to nationally recognized Tucci Engineering and Steve Bono’s Antique Car Restoration. They have also attended auto expos and Corvette Americana. Following a long tradition, club members also participate in local Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) meetings.
Most recently, the club has built a Mustang drag car from the ground up that gets raced at the local dragstrip. They also sponsor an annual Auto Cruise-In, which takes place during the first weekend in October. Club members are also in the process of building their own one-off rat rod.
“I enjoy the motivation of getting out there and making something of myself,” said Club President Charlie Woznack. “Through all of the clubs’ projects and activities we get to learn everything else about cars that you don’t get taught in the classroom.”
December 4–6, Mesa
MAFCA Annual Meeting
Sponsor: Model A Ford Club of America
Information: www.mafca.com or 480/325-6308
December 13, Phoenix
Hot Rods & Heroes
Sponsor: Vettes and Rods
Information: www.vettesandrods.com/hotrodsandheroes.pdf or 480/888-9459
December 6, Folsom
21st Annual Gold Country Toy Run
Information: www.cal4wheel.com/hilanders/toy.html or 916/849-4018
December 2, Tustin
Pomona Swap Meet & Car Show
December 20, Miami
Hot Import Nights
December 20, Forest Park
Sponsor: Georgia Street Rod Association
Information: www.gsra.com or 478/932-1043
December 5, Honolulu
Hot Import Nights
December 6–7, Timonium
East Coast Indoor Nationals
December 5–7, Charleston
2nd Annual Carolina Open Car Classic & Hot Rod Run 2008
Sponsor: Cripple Dog Hot Rods
Information: www.crippledog.com or 904/529-2009
December 6, Weatherford
5th Annual Christmas Car Show
Sponsor: D&D Rockin’ Rods
Information: http://duck.he.net/cgi-bin/suid/~ddwilson/wingen.pl?link=12~6~2008~Pythian%20Children or 817/797-1197
December 7, Virginia Beach
Joy Fund Show
Sponsor: Mustang Club of Tidewater
Early January 2009 Events
January 4, Fort Myers
6th Annual Classic Car Show
Sponsor: Corvettes on the Gulf
Information: www.premiumcarshows.com or 727/547-8082
January 10, Lake Worth
9th Annual Fords and Friends Meet
Sponsor: Early Ford V-8 Club, Palm Beach Region 129
January 9–11, Boston
World of Wheels
January 9–11, Grand Rapids
40th Annual AutoRama
January 9–11, Cincinnati
Cavalcade of Customs
Attention Car Clubs, Event Organizers and Enthusiasts!
Put SAN on Your Mailing List!
We’d like to know what’s going on with SEMA Action Network clubs and enthusiasts across the country; what charity events you’re involved in; when and where the rod runs, car shows, trail rides, rallies and tech meetings are held; and what legislative and regulatory issues concern club members and individual enthusiasts.
One of the best ways to keep us abreast of what’s going on and what’s important to the vehicle hobbies nationwide is for us to receive your club newsletters and updates. Please consider placing SEMA on your mailing list. Send correspondence to: SEMA Action Network, 1317 F Street, N.W., Suite 500, Washington, D.C. 20004-1105. Or by e-mail to email@example.com.