We all know what makes hot rodders run. Easy to explain but (I must imagine) bewilderingly difficult for an ordinary citizen to grasp. Driving around, sometimes aimlessly. Yes. Attending events with others of our stripe. Yes. BSing heavily at such gatherings. Yes. Driving cars with outsized, fuel-sucker engines. Yes. You mean you only drive this car a couple of days a month? Yes. Drivng with a beer between your knees. No (except in Texas).

You're out on some steamy night in July '62. Your babe riding shotgun, eyes gleaming, her shorts a bit too short, and a chump in another hot rod yelling shit to call you out. At the heart of it, we're desperately reliving days of mis-spent youth, absolutely reverting to a time that we will never see again. The only tangible link is the iron that we're throttling and even beyond that, the heart-warming defining sheetmetal that brings it all back home. 

Like the HOA drone who's miffed because he can see the tail end of your trailer sticking out from behind the house, what we do must appear like we're having way too much fun and that it's time to stop all this randy behavior and bring back one-horsepower carts. For many long years, an arm of the Specialty Equipment Market Association has challenged and defeated or forestalled myriad bill proposals aimlessly aimed at curtailing our hobby. Now, it's gone way beyond that. Over the next four years, bill sponsors want to destroy four million modern pickups and SUVs .
We need SEMA's advocates like we need air to breathe. The fight this time is much closer to the hearts of those ordinary citizens than to staunch hot rodders. The feds are in their driveways now, not just on the fringe of ours. As of January 28, SEMA is opposing an effort by some Washington lawmakers to include a national car crushing program in the upcoming economic stimulus package. Scrap heap candidates include your trucks and SUVs, bunkie, and include Chevy Blazers, Silverados, S-10s, Tahoes, Dodge Dakotas and Rams, Ford Explorers, F-Series, Jeep Cherokees and Wranglers and any other SUV or truck that can't muster 18 miles per gallon. Under the "plan," the Federal government would pay a premium for 1999 and newer cars. Like Bob Dylan once wrote, "There's something happening here, but you don't know what it is, do you Mr. Jones?"

Now, the ruse is called the “Accelerated Retirement of Inefficient Vehicles Act," or cash-for-clunkers with a twist.  Rather than focusing exclusively on old cars as is typical with scrappage programs, this bill targets any vehicle with low fuel economy ratings. Under the legislation, “fuel-efficient” means at least 25 percent better mileage than the CAFE standard. What do you get for giving up your daily-driver drayhorse? Participants will receive a cash voucher to purchase a more fuel-efficient new car or used car (2004 or later) or receive credit for the purchase of public transportation tickets. It will be illegal to resell the scrapped vehicles. As usual, SEMA sees that this action will fail to achieve its goal of improving fuel efficiency and stimulating car sales. What it will do is increase unemployment and the cost of used cars and parts.

Given the minimal $1,500-$4,500 voucher value, the program is supposed to lure rarely-driven second and third vehicles that have minimal impact on overall fuel economy and air pollution. I have a 500hp Silverado that I've driven barely 1,000 miles per year for the last four. The truck has its purpose. I promise you that I will not be giving it up anytime soon. In short, this is not a particularly wise investment of tax dollars. The program will reduce the number of vehicles available for low-income buyers and drive up the cost of the remaining vehicles and repair parts, a basic supply-and-demand reality. The program will kill the opportunity to market specialty products that are designed exclusively for the targeted pickups and SUVs, including components that increase engine performance and fuel mileage. As such, Congress will be enacting a program to eliminate jobs and reduce business revenues in the automotive aftermarket. 

The idea that the trucks and SUVs must be scrapped in order to save energy is irrational and the so-called “carbon footprint” does not factor in the amount of energy and natural resources expended in manufacturing the existing car, spent scrapping it, and finally manufacture a replacement vehicle. It also fails to acknowledge driver needs, such as the ability to transport a family, tow a trailer or rely upon the performance, safety and utility characteristics associated with the larger vehicles. Hell, let's crush 'em instead.

Max Chevy covers all automotive things Chevy. A new issue of MaxChevy.com is published every other month and is updated weekly.



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