January 2002

U.S. Senate Bill Would Fund Scrappage Programs Nationwide

A bill (S. 1766) has been introduced in the U.S. Senate containing a provision (Section 803) that would federally fund state scrappage programs for vehicles more than 15 years old. Owners who turn in vehicles for crushing would receive a “minimal” payment and a future credit toward purchasing a newer vehicle, all in a misguided attempt to improve the overall fuel economy of the country's vehicle fleet. This bill represents the most formidable Federal legislative threat to the vehicle hobby in many years.

SEMA and the SEMA Action Network strongly urge your opposition to using U.S. taxpayer dollars for scrappage. Arguments against this bill include:

Section 803 of S. 1766 would give states that don't currently operate scrappage programs an extra incentive to create a program due to generous federal funding.

Section 803 of S. 1766 requires that federally funded state scrappage programs crush every car. It threatens enthusiasts nationwide with the loss of valuable parts and parts-cars for repair, restoration and customization projects.

Section 803 of S. 1766 does not require states to determine the fuel efficiency of vehicles being scrapped or that scrapped vehicles are being replaced by more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Section 803 of S. 1766 ignores the fact that cars turned in for scrappage often barely run, or are rarely driven second or third vehicles that have a minimal impact on overall fuel economy.

Section 803 of S. 1766 will diminish the availability of affordable transportation and repair parts to low-income drivers as more and more older cars are crushed.

Section 803 of S. 1766 does not guarantee that low-income individuals will be able to afford to purchase new vehicles - let alone more fuel efficient vehicles - with the money provided by scrappage programs.

Section 803 of S. 1766 ignores more socially responsible and cost-effective policy options like voluntary vehicle repair and upgrade programs that maximize the fuel efficiency of existing vehicles.

Protect American vehicle enthusiasts and low-income drivers. Please contact your U.S. Senators to oppose Section 803 of S. 1766.

California Gives Smog Test Break to Specially Constructed Vehicles

A new California law will provide a more accurate emissions-system certification and model-year designation for specially constructed vehicles, including kit cars. SEMA supported the bill developed by fellow vehicle hobbyist and State Senator K. Maurice Johannessen (R-District 4).

The new law will be used to determine the model year of specially constructed vehicles. Under the measure, the vehicle's owner can choose whether a smog test referee will certify the engine model year or the vehicle model year. To determine model year, the inspector will compare the vehicle to those of the era that the vehicle most closely resembles. If there is no close match, it will be classified as a 1960 vehicle. Only those emission controls applicable to the model year and that can be reasonably accommodated by the vehicle will be required. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will provide a new registration to the first 500 specially constructed vehicles per year that meet the criteria.

“Under previous California law, specially constructed vehicles were assigned the current model-year for smog inspection purposes,” said Steve McDonald, SEMA director of government and technical affairs. “This policy unfairly subjected kit cars and other specially constructed vehicles to more stringent smog inspection requirements. Thanks to this new law, engines and vehicles will be held to the standards of the model-year they represent rather than the more sophisticated vehicles of today.”

California exempts pre-1974 vehicles from the biennial and change-of-ownership smog check requirements. Under the new law, specially constructed vehicles designated with a pre-1974 model year will be exempted from the test. Beginning in the year 2003, all vehicles 30 years old and older will be exempted.

California Revisions to Scrappage Regulations Don’t Go Far Enough

California Air Resources Board (CARB) staff is recommending revisions to the agency’s scrappage regulations that allow parts recovery only for non-emission related and non-drivetrain parts. CARB is also attempting to minimize differences between its scrappage program and the scrappage program operated by the Bureau of Automotive Repair.

SEMA is supporting a policy option which would allow for total recycling and resale of all parts from vehicles destined for scrappage. In cooperation with other aftermarket associations, SEMA submitted joint comments to CARB's draft proposal and attended a public workshop on this matter. A full Board hearing is scheduled for Feb. 21 in Sacramento, California.

SEMA believes that California law is very specific in requiring vehicle retirement programs to “maximize the salvage value of vehicles through recycling, sales and use of parts..." to accommodate the interests of car collectors and low-income citizens.

“The CARB staff unfortunately continues to interpret the legislature’s intent in a way that will result in unique vehicles and their parts being lost forever,” said SEMA Technical Consultant Frank Bohanan. “The regulatory changes they've offered create administrative and logistical burdens which would still encourage the unnecessary destruction of parts. We will seek to have the staff recommendation dismissed at the January meeting and, if necessary, we will consider reinitiating legislation to prohibit the mandated destruction of vehicles and their parts when they are submitted to a vehicle retirement program.” 

SEMA Drafts Model Street Rod Bill

Did you know that 22 states do not recognize street rods and customs as distinct vehicle classes? In fact, in these states, rods and customs are often subjected to the same equipment and emissions standards as new passenger vehicles. With your help, SEMA aims to change that. We don’t believe that a ‘34 Ford street rod or a chopped and slammed ‘64 T-Bird should be lumped together in the same vehicle class with the family Lumina, and we're guessing most SEMA Action Network (SAN) members feel the same way.

In consultation with the many rod and custom vehicle builders and parts manufacturers in SEMA’s council, Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA), SEMA has developed a model bill recognizing street rods and custom vehicles as individual vehicle classes. Rods and customs would have specific titling and registration categories, distinct license plates, and specific equipment requirements and emissions exemptions.

SAN members have the power to get this sample legislation introduced and signed into law. SAN clubs in New York and Rhode Island already have street rod bills pending, and Illinois rodders are working hard to get similar legislation introduced. Our goal is to see bills introduced in as many states as possible.

SEMA pledges to provide the legislative language, research, and any other assistance we can to aid in this process. However, we need SAN members to contact legislators and tell them that they want this legislation introduced. Rod and custom clubs should consider making this request as a group - the more constituents a legislator hears from, the better. If you have a personal relationship with your state representatives, talk to them about why this legislation is important to our hobby.

For copies of this model bill, legislator contact information and any questions, contact SAN at 202/783-6007, ext. 38. SAN members can also determine who your legislators are on the web at http://www.semasan.com/Main/Main.aspx?ID=60130. It’s no longer enough for us to only fight the bills that pose a threat to our hobby. We must take a proactive approach in preserving our pastime to ensure that it will still be around for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.

States Without a Street Rod Registration Class: 

Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming. 

California OHV Clubs Provide Unique Experience for People with Disabilities

The Sierra Treasure Hunters and the Grass Valley 4-Wheelers (both members of the California Association of Four-Wheel Drive Clubs) recently spent a day wheelin’ with and getting to know more than 30 members of Disabled Sports USA, an organization designed to provide unique recreational opportunities to people with disabilities.

With financial assistance from the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission, the California Association of Four-Wheel Drive Clubs developed a program to allow these folks the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors while learning about the off- highway vehicle hobby. This inaugural event, held in the Cisco Grove, California, area, included a trek up Signal Peak, 8,000 feet above sea level. After reaching the summit, the group stopped for lunch at Fordyce Lake where participants were offered the chance to go rock-crawling along Fordyce Creek Trail.

The event was a huge success and more trips, including overnight stays, are planned for this fall. Both the participants and the volunteers had a great time.

Chorng-Shyan Lin, who developed polio at a young age commented, “There is nothing like this in the Bay Area. This is a tremendous opportunity for my wife and I to find out what is beyond the paved surface.”

Chris Collard, a member of the Sierra Treasure Hunters, echoed the sentiments of many of the volunteer drivers who felt that they gained just as much from the experience as the participants: “All we saw were big smiles. The excitement in their eyes as each vehicle traversed the hardcore four-wheeling section, the amazement of clearing the summit at Signal Peak and those moments sharing the great outdoors are experiences I will remember forever.”

Dennis Porter, a representative of the California Association of Four-Wheel Drive Clubs and the coordinator of the partnership, stated, "In our wildest dreams, we didn’t have any idea that this weekend would be so successful. Whenever you have a pilot project, you expect a glitch or two, but I don’t think we had one.” He hopes to take the program statewide next year and eventually, nationwide.

Driving Force salutes all of those involved and wishes the California Association of Four-Wheel Drive Clubs and Disabled Sports USA continued success with the partnership. This is truly a unique and worthwhile program.

For more information on how you can get involved, contact Dennis Porter at 530/221-1949 or e-mail dlporter2@mindspring.com.

Cops and Rodders: Indiana State Police Team with NSRA Safety Team

Every year, the Indiana State Police Alliance and the Indiana NSRA State Safety Team present awards to the owners of vehicles they feel have been designed and built with an emphasis on safety. Ten awards are handed out every year to rodders who put a lot of thought, time and money into their rides to ensure that they are as safe as possible. While most states don’t require street rods to be retrofitted with modern safety features, many folks have taken it upon themselves to update their vehicles with the goal of creating a rod that is safer for them and their families to enjoy, as well as for others on the road.

Southern Indiana NSRA representative Les Reeves came up with the idea for the program back in 1994. With the help of Bob Nunemacher, a northern Indiana NSRA representative, they pitched it to Indiana State Trooper First Sergeant John Mull, who thought it would be a great way to improve relations between cops and rodders. Sergeant Mull has overseen the program ever since.

Comments Reeves, “This program has helped our situation 100-fold. Because of it, the State Police know that we're not bad guys and we know that they’re not bad guys.”

At the 12th annual Bristow Octoberfest Car Show, the safety award was given to Ron Boges of Tell City, Indiana, and his '33 Chevy Coupe. Ron passed all 23 points of the NSRA safety inspection, which includes requirements such as a rearview mirror, a certified speedometer and an electric or vacuum-operated windshield wiper. Additional safety features included a fire extinguisher located in the passenger compartment, seat belts, a third brake light and a dual master cylinder. Huber told us that what really set the ‘33 apart from the other rods at the show “was the three-point seatbelts Ron had installed.”

We appreciate Dave and Les letting us know about this program and hope that the idea will spread to other states. It proves that there can be a friendly and productive association between enthusiasts and law enforcement.

If you have a story about a positive interaction with, or relationship you or your club has developed with, the police, please tell us about it. Mail your story to: SEMA Action Network, 1317 F St., Ste. 500, Washington, D.C. 20004 or e-mail to: san@sema.org