January 1999

Collector Cars at Risk with California Scrappage Vote

Despite heavy opposition from California automobile enthusiasts, SEMA and other interested parties, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved amendments instituting a very aggressive scrappage program across California. Under this new regulation, CARB will crush and destroy up to 150,000 cars a year for 10 years to meet emissions-reduction goals. The regulations will not allow for salvage or recycling of any vehicle parts or engines. The corresponding loss, in terms of irreplaceable parts and vehicles needed by vehicle enthusiasts, will be significant.

In approving this proposal, CARB flatly disregarded California law (S.B. 501) mandating that all scrappage programs allow for parts recycling. Under the new regulations, the only way a hobbyist or a low-income individual can obtain a necessary part would be to buy the entire car before it's crushed. Most disappointing, CARB did not consider a proven alternative to scrappage "voluntary repair and upgrade "where older vehicles are voluntarily submitted for repair and installation of emissions upgrade retrofit equipment. CARB gave no attention to a San Diego Air Pollution Control District pilot "Repair/Upgrade" program, which achieves emissions reductions at half the cost of typical scrappage programs.

The CARB also chose to ignore the facts concerning real-world scrappage programs: (1) CARB does no testing to prove emissions reductions are achieved with scrappage or that vehicles scrapped are replaced by cleaner running vehicles; (2) These programs fail to recognize that many cars turned in for scrappage can barely run or cannot pass smog inspections and that the programs themselves are susceptible to fraud; (3) The CARB scrappage program disregards the needs of hobbyists and low-income families who rely on the availability of older vehicles and parts; and (4) Regulatory agencies cannot justify crushing cars when more cost-effective and environmentally sound programs, such as voluntary repair and upgrade, exist.

SEMA VP of Government Affairs Chris Kersting said, "SEMA is disappointed CARB is disregarding the law regarding parts recycling and is ignoring proof that scrappage programs are fatally flawed. The association is working with car clubs and other interested parties to determine the best response to the CARB's decision. Our options include introducing legislation and/or bringing legal action challenging the final regulations."

SEMA and CHP Agree on California Exhaust Noise Standard

Responding to complaints from hobbyists and aftermarket exhaust system manufacturers, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) has issued new guidelines clarifying state exhaust noise regulations. The guidelines result from discussions between CHP and SEMA seeking ways to bring enforcement more in line with state standards. The bulletin informs CHP and local police officers, the industry and consumers on applicable noise limits and allowable aftermarket exhaust modifications.

The bulletin (CHP Information Bulletin 98-100) contains the following information:

Exhaust modifications that increase noise are not automatically illegal in California. The regulations allow exhaust modifications increasing noise up to 95 decibels.

The California Vehicle Code does not prohibit exhaust modifications, modified tailpipes or muffler tips that increase exhaust noise levels over that of factory-installed systems as long as noise levels do not exceed the 95-decibel limit.

Because California does not provide for practical roadside testing, enforcement stops will require an officer's informed evaluation. Police are advised to issue "Notice to Correct" (fix-it tickets) when vehicles are judged in violation of the noise standard. This procedure will give vehicle owners an opportunity to nullify the citation by presenting materials demonstrating that the vehicle complies with the 95-decibel standard. CHP lacks resources to verify manufacturer claims, but is aware that many aftermarket systems meet the 95-decibel standard. A police officer may consider aftermarket documentation when evaluating exhaust systems for excessive noise, both during an enforcement stop and when clearing a ticket. California exhaust noise regulations apply statewide, prohibiting local authorities from adopting local noise limitations that differ from the state regulation. Citations issued under differing local ordinances are invalid.

According to hobbyists, these new procedures will help address concerns in the enthusiast and aftermarket manufacturing community. Sammy Williams of Southern California's D.E.A. Racing Club said, "As long as they have a set regulation, we should be fine. My car is loud, but it's not illegal and it's not noise pollution. The reason we use aftermarket exhausts is to improve performance. We're not doing it to be loud." SEMA VP of Government Affairs Chris Kersting further commented, "We are hopeful these guidelines will inform police officers about California's exhaust noise limits, as well as proper enforcement standards and procedures. If they prove ineffective in practice, SEMA will undertake other measures to seek fair enforcement of the regulations. Our goal is to reduce improper citations and encourage modifications that comply with the regulations."

A summary of the CHP guidelines appears on the SEMA web site, www.sema.org.

Florida Legislators Considering Scrappage

The Florida legislature is considering the adoption of a vehicle scrappage program to be introduced early in the 1999 legislative session. Rep. Allen Trovillion (R-Winter Park) asked the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to prepare a proposal for a quick-fix pollution reduction program for distribution this spring when legislators convene in Tallahassee.

Legislators, business leaders and members of the environmental community recently met to discuss several policy alternatives aimed at reducing air pollution in central Florida. Besides scrappage, other programs offered for consideration included mandatory emissions testing, use of cleaner fuels and a tightening of emission standards for sport-utility vehicles.

Last May, DEP issued Florida's first-ever statewide air-quality advisory when ozone levels soared in nearly every county in the state. However, Florida's vehicle enthusiast community is dismayed by the thought of retiring older vehicles to clean the air. "It's [scrappage programs] crazy," said Roger De Conna of the Corvette Club of Marion County. "I can understand the problem with smog, but there are other things that can be done such as repair/upgrade programs. Our club has a lot of later model Corvettes and I'd rather do that than lose access to older cars and parts."

SEMA Director of State Relations Steve McDonald commented, "Scrappage programs do not necessarily capture gross polluters, do not achieve verifiable emissions benefits, are not cost effective and have proven severely flawed and susceptible to fraud. It surprises me that Florida would consider a program that is rapidly losing support in every state that has tried one." McDonald indicated that he has already begun briefing aides to key legislators on alternatives to scrappage programs, such as vehicle repair and upgrade. "SEMA supports repair and upgrade programs because their benefits are measured, real and verifiable," he said. "Adapting newer technologies to older vehicles benefits the vehicle owner and achieves surplus air-quality benefits as well."

Valvoline Sponsors 'Golden Rule' Award

SEMA was recently contacted by the Valvoline Co. and Eagle One premium products regarding their annual Eagle One "Golden Rule" Award, created in 1994 to recognize the community spirit and charitable work of car clubs.

Regional car clubs in the east, south, midwest and west, judged by Valvoline to have the most outstanding community service programs, will receive recognition plaques, Eagle One products and national media exposure for their efforts. Because we're aware of the tremendous charitable involvement of automobile clubs across the country, we'd like to pass this information along for the benefit of SAN-member clubs.

For more information, contact Alex Litrov at 818/501-1445. The deadline for consideration is January 10, so don't delay!

Western Adventures with the California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs

The 4,000-plus members of the California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs (CA4WD) are busy moving mountains out west. They are, in the literal sense, moving mountains by working with the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to develop and maintain four-wheel-drive trails all over California for enthusiasts to enjoy. The group, led by President Donna Chisum, is also moving mountains to promote four-wheeling as a sport, produce fun events for members, develop their youth members into leaders, and help local charities.

CA4WD, founded in 1959 by a small group of enthusiasts, has instituted several family-oriented annual events, including Winterfun (held each January in northern California), the February Association Convention, the Molina Ghost Run in March, May's High Desert Round Up in southern California, the Sierra Trek (held in August near Truckee), the Ocean Sand Drags every October, and November's Panamint Valley Days held in Death Valley.

Each well-attended event charges a nominal fee to join in on the fun for activities such as sport-utility runs or, for the serious four-wheeler, rock crawling. The costs for the 2- to 3-day events, which include meals, is around $40. The exception? The much anticipated 3-day Sierra Trek, with a registration fee around $100. The events help raise funds in support of the CA4WD and pay for the group's two natural resource consultants, Mike Ahearn and Don Klusman, who coordinate grant writing to raise additional funds for trail maintenance.

Recently, CA4WD developed an exciting youth program called "Off Highway Voyagers" that targets the children of current members in three age groups: 5-10, 11-13 and 14 and up. The goal? To develop effective CA4WD, as well as community leaders. The children learn leadership skills and earn points and prizes donated from local merchants and member businesses when they attend meetings. Children 5-10 years old focus on developing responsibility with fun, with adults organizing them to pick up trash, etc., in parks; 11-13 year olds assist the adults on runs; and the 14-and-older group has the responsibility of running the snack bars at events. Chisum, an association member since 1972, said, "We have as many as 40 children involved right now and they are great kids. Each child is given a task to perform at events and meetings to help them learn and develop their skills. This mentoring program is really rewarding."

Other ongoing projects include active involvement supporting Jerry's Kids and the Muscular Dystrophy Association with its annual fundraising endeavors. CA4WD has also proudly sponsored a statewide Toys for Tots program for more than 25 years.

Looking to join the CA4WD board of directors in February, Chisum looks back at her 4 years as president after holding the offices of secretary/treasurer and VP, with these words: "The association has matured a lot and we have learned a lot. It has been fun watching it grow over the years, educating the public and taking care of the land. Our future looks bright." For more information, e-mail CA4WD at dchisum@worldnet.att.net.

SUV Enthusiasts Form Club

By the Durango Owners Club

A Dodge Durango Owners Club (DOC) has recently gone online and has been in operation since March 1998. Organized by hobbyists, the new organization grows daily, currently sporting more than 400 members throughout the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and Switzerland. The club's web site (www.durangoclub.com) provides members with Durango-related information, as well as links to corporate members offering product discounts and services to members.

Local chapters are forming to involve members in meetings, off-road adventures and social events, and a discussion forum is maintained at www.forum.durangoclub.com to connect members and nonmembers alike for information sharing. For example, if searching the build-status of an ordered Durango, browsers will find it here, as well as how to track its rail shipment. A "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ) section is also freely available to all forum visitors.

The club is designed to provide a way for Dodge Durango enthusiasts and SUV aficionados to meet, exchange ideas and information and generate enthusiasm. The DOC also serves as a resource for Durango information, connecting buyers and sellers of vehicles and accessories, acting as a liaison between owners and the DaimlerChrysler Corp., promoting safe and environmentally sound use of SUVs, and fostering development, support and connection among local chapters. Future considerations include involvement in SUV and automotive regulatory matters, such as recent government efforts involving scrappage laws and chapter involvement in local charity events.

A contemplated national activity scheduled for the year 2000 is a "Durango Relay Across Greater America" (DRAGA 2000). This will involve the relaying of an appreciation plaque across the United States by DOC members starting in Hawaii and ending at the Newark, Delaware Durango Assembly Plant, where the plaque will be presented to assembly line workers.

If you own or are contemplating the purchase of a Dodge Durango, it would be well worth your time to check the club out and consider joining. The club can be contacted at Durango Owners Club, 704 Ridge Rd., Queensbury, N.Y. 12804.

January SAN Club Events


    January 20, Tucson, Arizona
    Tubac Car Show
    Sponsor: Classic Chevy Club of Tucson
    Information: 520/293-0216
    January 22-24, Lake Havasu, Arizona
    "Buses By the Bridge" Camping Event
    Sponsor: Arizona VW Bus Club
    Information: Jon Stanton, 602/877-8662


    January 17, Jackson, Michigan
    33rd Annual Swap Meet
    Sponsor: Jackson-Cascades Chapter
    VMCCA Information: Ken Fish, 517/531-3568

    January 31, Warren, Michigan
    Winter Swap Meet
    Sponsor: Walter P. Chrysler Club
    Information: John Connors, 810/264-1930


    January 17, Hilliard, Ohio
    Car Parts Swap Meet
    Sponsor: Scioto Model A Ford Club
    Information: 614/876-0511

Even though it’s getting colder and many cars are going inside for the winter, we'd like to know what your clubs are up to. Send information on upcoming shows, rod runs and charity events to Brian Caudill, SEMA, 1317 F St., NW, Ste. 500, Washington, D.C. 20004. Clubs can also reach Caudill by fax, 202/783-6024 or by e-mail at brianc@sema.org. If we're not already on it, put us on your mailing list!