I am not talking about "Norm" the lovable round mound of a character from the once wildly popular Cheers television show, but rather about the new "norm" that tells us how we perceive, handle, and go about our hobby in the coming days. So what is out there for those of us who like our sheetmetal a little worn around the edges?
For starters, to say our country is in a bit of a quandary would be an understatement of epic proportions-even for me! Our country is beset with multiple potholes along the road to recovery. Guiding us are politicians with little know-how or a clue on how to smooth over the ruts in life's highway. The best I can say is we are wandering from lane to lane trying to avoid all those potholes.
And now after years of doing nothing our state governments are becoming more active with the regulation of our hot rods. Regulation is a two-headed beast; one is emission standards (brought about by heightened awareness of greenhouse gases), and the second is registration (what is a legally registered hot rod). There is a third element in amnesty, which currently is only an issue in California. Basically, anyone who has erroneously registered their hot rod (regardless of year, style of build, etc.) needs to correct this problem during the calendar year of 2010. Failure to do this can have undesirable consequences. All of the so-called issues can be overcome with money-ironic isn't it? Some of the money stays within our hobby while a large portion goes to local or state government.
What am I looking at? You...
What am I looking at? You are looking at one part of the future of hot rodding. It's a '32 Ford highboy roadster outfitted with an LS3 engine-and multiple catalytic converters. Yep, this hot rod meets '09 emission standards and the surprising thing is all the mechanicals fit very nicely. See next month for more on this.
In the overall scheme, our hot rods, and for the sake of this editorial, are made up of pre-'72 original iron, kit car Cobra's and the like, and one-off construction-all lumped into a category called Special Construction Vehicles (SVC). Many of you are saying, "Why should I care? I don't live in California or any of the states that have taken a strict enforcement." And that may be true. There are a number of states that have already passed SVC legislation making it relatively easy to register our hot rods. Caveat emptor-there is more to registration and by that I mean emission standards, which these states can implement anytime going forward. You may not believe it, see it, or care but we are all in this one together.
Who is looking out for us? Well, it should have been each and every one of us over the past decades but that's not what happened. We have car clubs and other organizations that have done tremendous work on all of our behalf while fighting the good fight on a local level. On a national level (addressing all states issues simultaneously), about the only organization that I am aware of with any real clout and any noteworthy success is SEMA. Secondarily there are the collector car insurance companies that appear to be on the side of the hobbyist. SEMA, while looking out for the enthusiast, is an industry-based association first so their perception may not always be our perception.
This editorial is a heads-up for the coming months where there will be a multi-part series of articles dealing with amnesty, registration, and emission standards. Our hobby for decades has stayed beneath the governmental radar but that's no longer the case. You can dislike it and many will, you can choose to ignore it and many will, or you can work within the new "norm" and initially very few will.
Stay tuned over the next few months as we find out where we stand. If you are in one of the "good" states you can go about hot rodding with business as usual. If you aren't and find yourself in a "bad" state hang on, it could prove very frustrating. But remember this: The new norm is not the old norm.