In the past year, state scrappage initiatives have been completely shot down in North Carolina and Washington. Last year's federal "Cash for Clunkers" program was geared to reward consumers with vouchers for new, fuel-efficient vehicles in return for an older "dirty" one. People like us, acting in concert with the SEMA Action Network, were able to convince lawmakers to include a stipulation to the program that the trade-in "clunker" be a 1984 model vehicle or newer, which helped protect irreplaceable classic cars and trucks. This is proof positive that our voice can be heard and that we can make a difference in preserving our hobby and lifestyle.
"Americans see their cars...
"Americans see their cars as an expression of their self-image, and carmakers, aftermarket suppliers, and consumers all benefit when competition is encouraged."
-Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)
Now, let's paint a picture of the worst possible nightmare any one of us could face as custom vehicle enthusiast. Take a second to think of the project truck you have sitting in your backyard-you know, the one that is on blocks, wheels off, engine plucked out, and the interior completely gutted. You've been ripping into it slowly whenever the luxury of extra time presents itself, but everyone knows, a custom job like this isn't finished overnight. Now imagine going outside to start wrenching away on it only to find a ticket taped to it, or worse yet, to find that the entire truck is missing. Depending on strict local zoning laws, both situations can be a reality. Aggressive, non-enthusiast government lawmakers are trying to rid neighborhoods of what they consider to be eyesores in their communities by ticketing and, in extreme cases, towing vehicles that are on private property. Protect your truck that is on your land by becoming aware of local zoning laws and the penalties attached to them. One good rule of thumb is your project can't offend the wrong set of eyes if it's not in plain sight. Walls, fences, tall trees and shrubbery, and garages or storage units are your friends.
Another area directly related to the minitruck scene and one that is also restricted by specific laws is engine swapping. Lots of owners of four-banger-equipped minis have more horsepower on their wish lists, but before searching for an upgrade, here are a few things to consider. One basic rule is that the new engine to be installed must be as "clean" as the one taken out (replacement, same-model engines do not apply). The engine to be installed must be of the same age as the recipient vehicle, although crate engines with proper EPA or CARB emission certifications are perfectly fine. When swapping in a newer engine from a considerably later model vehicle, all emissions controls must be transferred as well. Of course, there are more restrictions to follow, but to avoid any slaps on the wrist you can access official guidelines at epa.gov, or bar.ca.gov if you're a California resident.
Lighting, Window Tint, and Tires
"Automobiles and the open...
"Automobiles and the open road are a unique part of our nation's history and heritage... anything I can do to help preserve them for the future is important to me."
-Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)
Aftermarket lighting products are regulated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and lately they have been focusing on non-compliant HID conversion kits. Specific taillight covers, marker lamps, and bulbs are also under further investigation, but remember, while it's illegal to manufacture and market a product that doesn't meet federal or state standards, it's completely legal to install them on your personal vehicle. Just be forewarned that you may still be violating state equipment laws.
Although window tint is another common custom mod that has been a widely ticketed offense, there are measures being presented that wish to explore the option of "legalizing" tinting. A bill directing the California Air Resources Board to lower greenhouse gas emissions by reducing vehicle cabin temperatures is advancing through the California legislature. Window tinting does a great job at keeping the cab cooler, and it also offers relief to drivers with sensitivity to light. It will be interesting to see the outcome of this one.