Election time is nearing, campaign politics has reared its ugly head, and the country is being introduced to issues that can affect YOU, the custom-truck enthusiast.
As you go to the polls to vote in November, don't just keep your eyes on the federal candidates, make sure to pay attention to the politics going on in your state and local circuits as well. By now, you might be a little confused as to which specific issues we are talking about or how certain changes in governmental affairs will trickle down to dictate ownership and customization of vehicles in your personal garage. Don't get the wrong idea-not all members of government are out to attack our favorite hobby. There are many who were raised on turning wrenches and are still very much involved in getting their hands dirty with their own projects. Granted, most of them probably aren't riding around in 'bagged and 'bodied S-10s, but their fight for the right to customize is the same as ours.
With the help of the SEMA Action Network (SAN), we have compiled a few important topics of interest and what you can do to help protect our custom lifestyle.
"Car guys have every bit as...
"Car guys have every bit as much of a right to make their voices heard as the special interests and their lobbyists."
-Sen. John Tester (D-MT)
First off, let's discuss a big topic that is on the chopping block, and something that is one of the major facets of our hobby-vehicle height. Some state agencies and legislatures are pursuing vehicle height restrictions; however, a safe middle ground known as the "scrub line" can serve as a compromise between regulators and modifiers who plan on lowering their vehicle from stock ride height. The scrub line is an imaginary line created if lines were drawn from the very bottom of the wheel rim on one side to the bottom of the tire on the opposite side. When lines are drawn from both sides using a taut string, an intersecting "X" point underneath the suspension is created. Any suspension or chassis component, with the exception of any portion of an exhaust system or sheetmetal, will be not be allowed to dip lower than the top portion of the "X." Some states, Pennsylvania in particular, have made this type of measurement a standard procedure when inspecting vehicles being registered as a specially constructed or reconstructed vehicle. Many bumper height laws are also in effect out there, and just because you have decided to ditch your bumper in favor of a rollpan doesn't mean your truck is safe from the same scrutiny. Other states simply limit suspension modifications to heights that may cause the vehicle body or chassis to come into contact with the ground. These limitations are all in place for safety reasons, but as we all know, the improvements made to custom suspension systems have come a long way since these laws were put into effect.
Another hot topic at the moment is early vehicle retirement programs or "scrappage." In the past few years, state and fed officials have tried to create strict emissions programs, one of which targets the destruction of older vehicles. Now for those of you trying to build a classic Datsun, Toyota, or even a Chevy LUV or Mazda B-series, pay close attention. Destroying these valuable artifacts of our hobby can turn hard-to-find parts into impossible-to-find parts, which unfairly limits lovers of classic mini metal and can possibly push these models into extinction. One thing that really gets under our skin is the fact that these early-model vehicles are not being searched out and destroyed based on any type of actual emissions testing but rather their date of production. Age discrimination is not something anyone in the custom community should tolerate. If anything, these scrappage programs should promote fair options such as vehicle maintenance, repair, and upgrade provisions.