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"The Relay" Online Newsletter
January 2020 Issue

This is the monthly online newsletter for the car club council. All car hobbyist events are listed on this site under "Calendar." Just click on the link above to view the list of car shows and other activities.

President's Message

Happy 2020! But it may not be that happy for us with the General Assembly coming to Richmond this month. The council monitors legislation each year in the Assembly and we try to keep track of what is happening with the auto-related bills. This year we've had a surprise - a possible carbon tax aimed at getting rid of gasoline and diesel vehicles and replacing them with electrics. The governor has signed up Virginia for the Transportation and Climate Initiative (website is www.transportationandclimate.org. What does this mean? Well if a bill is introduced (has not been at the time of this writing) then there will be at least an additional 10 cents a gallon tax on gas and diesel which does not include the 4 cents a gallon tax included in the proposed state budget. The plan is not just a tax but increasing the price of gas to reduce the demand for gasoline and use that tax money for incentives to buy electric vehicles and later to even ration gasoline. This is done on the pretense that these actions will reduce greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide) and thereby combat climate change. Studies have indicated that these actions do very little to reduce greenhouse gases while increasing taxes with a goal of replacing all internal combustion engines (yes, even your lawn mower and boat). Please read this article on the TCI plan for Virginia: baconsrebellion.com/wp/the-carbon-car-tax-nobody-is-discussing.

We have not yet heard anything from the media or governor's office on TCI. I really wonder what people would think if they knew that the governor had signed us up for this program that increases gasoline taxes with a goal of completely getting rid of all fossil fuels. And if all gasoline and diesel powered things were replaced with electrics what would that mean for the electric grid? Currently Virginia doesn't even produce enough electricity for the state and buys some electricity from West Virginia and other sources. In 2015 energy consumption in Virginia was more than twice the state's energy production (www.virginiaplaces.org/energy). In December Dominion Energy filed an air permit application with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to build a $600 million combustion turbine peaking power plant in Chesterfield County near Dutch Gap. The state needs more electricity even without the additional burden of adding electric vehicles.

Then there is Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (www.rggi.org), a regional carbon tax scheme that charges utilities for the right to emit gasses like carbon dioxide. Estimates from the State Corporation Commission found that the cost to Virginians would be $5.9 billion over 10 years, raising residential power bills by 10 percent. In fact this organization even wants to get rid of natural gas powered plants and replace them with renewal sources of energy. The problem is those this: "Renewable energy production -- which in Virginia comes from hydropower, biomass fuels, and landfill gases -- represented 6.3 percent of all electric generation in 2015, a negligible increase from the year before (6.2%) and again ranking the state 33rd in the nation."

So at the same time when we cannot produce enough electricity those in power want to replace fossil fuels with more electricity. How would this work? I can't see how it would work. But I do see that climate change is being used as an excuse to raise taxes so the government has more money to spend. And the kicker is this climate legislation does little to nothing to reduce carbon dioxide. And what about the effect of raising gasoline and electric prices on not just the poor but everyone? Everything moves by truck and every building and business uses electricity so the cost of everything is going to increase.

Why should we car hobbyists be concerned? We are talking about phasing out gasoline for electricity - no gas - no antique or special vehicles. We will monitor the Assembly bills and watch for the introduction of these bills that I hope never comes.

The Virginia Association of Car Councils website has all the auto-related bills listed at vaacc.org/legis1.html. I invite you to look at ALL the bills introduced into the Assembly at lis.virginia.gov.

Let's hope for a great new year.

~ Fred

Dues Are Due in January

Council dues are due every January. Please have your club or organization send a check for $10 for the council dues. Make the check out to CCCCVA and mail to Fred Fann, 15628 Rowlett Road, Chesterfield, VA 23838. If you have any question about the dues or if you'd like to find out if you club has paid them email fredfann@comcast.net. Thanks for being a member!

Next Meeting

Our next meeting will be Monday, January 27th at 6:30 PM at Cesare's Ristorante & Pizza 13301 Rivers Bend Blvd Chester, VA 23836, phone: 804-530-1047. Click for driving directions. The General Assembly will be in session and we will discuss all bills of importance to car hobbyists. There will be an update on our 25th anniversary and show in May.

Car Hobbyist News

Car hobbyists were left a lump of coal in our stockings from the Grinch (Governor Northam) called the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI). Below is from the TCI website: “The Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) is a regional collaboration of 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia that seeks to improve transportation, develop the clean energy economy and reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector. The participating states are: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.”

Okay that’s not exactly correct since New Hampshire has pulled out and the legislature and governor in Massachusetts are fighting over this.

Let’s look at Virginia. Last year the governor signed us up for this but to implement the program should require legislation. If implemented the plan would begin with increasing gas prices by 10 cents a gallon. This could rise to a dollar or more per gallon. Keep in mind this is in addition to the governor’s budget which increases gas taxes by 4 cents a gallon each year for 3 years. The purpose is to get people to use less fossil fuel and buy electric vehicles. The money generated by the cost increase in gasoline could be used for various projects like bike paths, subsidizing purchase of electric vehicles, building charging stations, and subsidies for public transportation. Along with this is reducing the amount of gasoline for purchase. The program can be summed up as taxes, rationing and prohibition – of fossil fuels.

The governor and several other state government leaders have bought into this program. Studies have shown that the program will cut carbon dioxide levels by less than 1% while costing us a bunch of money. VP Ron Clark and I attended a meeting on December 19th where this was discussed. There was talk of suing the governor if he tries to implement without the legislature passing a bill. But mostly we have to wait and see if legislation gets introduced and then we will need to work to defeat it.

What does this mean to car hobbyists? Well despite the governor being the owner of two antique vehicles his action with TCI will mean we are phasing out gasoline and replacing gas, diesel and even natural/propane gas vehicles with electrics. That is right – the goal is to stop using fossil fuel vehicles which include you antiques. I doubt you will see this discussed by the media which is horrible because the citizens need to know that not only are we looking at a gas increase if the governor’s budget passes as submitted but also an even larger increase in gas prices to try and get people to buy electric cars. Currently only 1.67% of vehicles in Virginia are electric.

Another bad thing about this program is a reduction of taxes needed to rebuild roads and bridges in Virginia. As the price of gasoline goes up, as production goes down, as more people switch to electrics we will have less money from the gasoline tax. Currently Virginia needs $5.2 billion to get roads up to fair condition and another $7.9 billion to get bridges up to fair condition.

In fact the governor upping gas taxes by 4 cents a gallon a year for 3 years is just a stop gap measure. Because vehicles are getting better mileage and the increase in electrics we are going to need a new way to fund roads and bridges – the VMT, a mileage tax. From Wiki: “A vehicle miles traveled tax, also frequently referred to as a VMT tax, VMT fee, mileage-based fee, or road user charge, is a policy of charging motorists based on how many miles they have traveled.”

How would a VMT work? Great question because the government would need to figure out how many miles you drive your vehicle(s) each year. We could use the mileage stated when your vehicle is inspected but the governor wants to end state vehicle inspections. The government could download data from your vehicle’s computer but that brings about more problems. So far only one state has tried this tax. Others have experimented with it and various ways of reporting mileage including just paying a flat fee.

What’s all this mean? It means we will have to carefully monitor the General Assembly session. The government is coming after our fossil fuel burning cars just like the government is coming after the so called assault weapons. Plus we also have to worry about RGGI which is the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The governor also wants to join it which works similar to TCI: increase the cost of electricity to reduce the use of electricity to reduce carbon dioxide. Yes, the governor wants to increase the cost of electricity and gasoline, plus increase the gasoline tax. I wonder if he actually believes this will as he puts it “create an economy that works for everyone”.

Elections have consequences – those in power want to use climate change to make big changes in the way we live. It’s about control – controlling us and telling us what to drive.

Winter
It's winter so let's take a look at some "stored" vehicles during the cold month of January

Mason-Dixon Poll: Virginians Oppose "Carbon Car Tax"

The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy today released results of a Mason-Dixon poll showing that the glowing benefits of a proposed Transportation and Climate Initiative are supported by a majority of Virginians ... but that Virginians equally oppose the measure when voters learn it will mean a major new carbon tax on gasoline and diesel sold here.

The drop in support was clear in two back-to-back questions included in a mid-December poll of Virginia voters by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy. The two questions were added at the request of the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy to a more general poll on political and legislative topics.

The first question outlining the many benefits claimed by the Transportation and Climate Initiative received the support of 61 percent of poll respondents. Benefits mentioned included improved transportation, developing the clean energy economy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles.

When the second question asked for voter attitudes if the program included an 18 cents per gallon tax on fuel and would result in less money for road repairs and construction, support dropped to 34 percent, and opposition rose to 58 percent. The erosion was noted in all regions of the state, including in Northern Virginia where voters then split on the idea 44 to 44 percent.

"The Virginia General Assembly and others who love this idea need to understand the voters will not," said Steve Haner, the Jefferson Institute's Senior Fellow for State and Local Tax Policy. "Adding almost 20 cents per gallon to fuel costs will take significant funds out of their family or business budget. This is a carbon car tax."

The full report from Mason-Dixon is attached to this news release, and a summary of key findings is below. All figures represent the percentage of voters expressing support:

 

Q1: Mentioning the claimed TCI benefits but not the cost.

Q2: Mentioning a related 18-cents per gallon carbon tax.

Statewide Support

61%

34%

Northern Virginia

76%

44%

Richmond Metro

61%

33%

Democrats

89%

53%

Republicans

19%

9%

Independents

63%

31%

The poll was a live interview conducted December 16-19, and surveyed 625 Virginia voters by landline and cell phone.

If fully implemented, TCI will be a regional compact following a similar Atlantic coast footprint to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, with Virginia the southernmost state participating. It seeks to reduce the amount of CO2 emitted by motor vehicles by capping the amount of gasoline and diesel over-the-road available for sale in the member jurisdictions, and then gradually reducing the amount available. Fuel wholesalers would need to buy carbon allowances in order to continue selling the products.

The intended rate of decline has not been announced, but organizers released modeling on December 17 based on a goal of a 25 percent reduction between 2022 and 2032. It projected that the program would result in allowance costs equivalent to 17 cents per gallon, very close to the estimate used in the poll question. The billions of dollars raised by the sale of allowances are not intended to go to the tradition uses of the gasoline tax, including highway maintenance and construction.

"Only a handful of Virginians have even heard of this proposed regional compact," Haner added. "It has not been blessed by the General Assembly, which is the only legal body that might have authority to ration these fuels and impose this carbon tax. People also need to understand that Governor Ralph Northam is proposing this and another 12-cent gasoline tax at the same time, which could add a potential 30 cents per gallon at the pump."

"This issue needs to emerge from the cloud of smoke that obscures it."

A copy of the poll questions, cross-tabs and methodology may be found by clicking here.

The Briefs

HB 75 Electric utilities; electric school bus pilot program: this General Assembly bill would more than double the cost of a school bus. The electric school buses will cost $270,000 each. The most expensive regular diesel school bus I could find was $110,000. Diesel buses last 10 to 12 years – this program will last up to 10 years. When the City of Richmond bought 3 electric buses they didn’t last 6 months before the batteries died. Guess whose electric bills are going to pay for these buses?

There is also a bill to put seat belts on all school buses and require passengers of motor vehicles to wear seat belts in the rear seat.

SB 63 Reckless driving; exceeding speed limit: Raises from 80 to 85 miles per hour the speed above which a person who drives a motor vehicle on the highways of the Commonwealth is guilty of reckless driving regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit.

Richmond Animal Care and Control is making license plates to honor the pitbull who was tied to a pole then set on fire. To qualify to make '#TeamTommie' license plates, Richmond Animal Care and Control need to pre-sell 450 of the plates, according to a post to its Facebook page. Once 450 are sold, a bill will be submitted to the General Assembly for next year's session. There, RACC hopes it will be designated as an official Virginia license plate. If approved, RACC said the proceeds from the license plates will support the Tommie Fund, and will help animals across Virginia. For more information about the license plates or to pre-order one, please visit Richmond Animal Care and Control's website.

What is the Boomer Tax? It's the reason that 50s, 60s and early 70s cars are so expensive. The Boomer Tax is the additional money required to buy a car of this era because now the aging baby boomers can afford them and that demand increases the price.

From 2010 to 2016 there was a 60% increase in traffic congestion in San Francisco. It was caused by Transportation Network Companies such as Uber and Lyft.

Hold onto those horses: Although the Ford Mustang has no real design flaw that leads directly to crashes or road accidents, it is still statistically one of the most dangerous cars in the world. Reports indicate that collisions and deaths involving the Mustang are four times as frequent as with the average car.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other major producers led by Russia, a group known as OPEC+, have reportedly agreed to make further small cuts in oil production to boost crude oil prices. Meeting in Vienna on December 5th, the cartel and Russia decided to deepen recurring cuts over the last three years by an additional 500,000 barrels a day through the end of March 2020. These would lead to total adjustments of 1.7 million barrels per day, OPEC said in a press release.

David Paul Wipperman, 61, of Largo, Florida, was taken into custody Nov. 21 in response to a road rage altercation a few weeks before, the Tampa Bay Times reported. According to arrest reports, during the incident, Wipperman left his truck and approached a woman driving a Kia sedan. She rolled down the window and apologized to Wipperman, who then spit the food he was chewing into her face, and some of it went into her mouth, the report said. Next, he allegedly opened her driver's side door and began screaming at her, pointing his finger in her face. He was charged in Pinellas County with felony battery and burglary of an occupied vehicle and held on $12,500 bail.

Over the past five years, 12 separate bundles of cash, totaling nearly $45,000, have turned up on sidewalks in the quiet, beachside English village of Blackhall Colliery, posing a mystery for local Detective Constable John Forster. "These bundles are always ... discovered by random members of the public who have handed them in," Forster told 9News, although he did admit he suspects some bundles have not been turned over to police. Officials have no evidence of a crime committed related to the bundles, usually containing about 2,000 pounds apiece. After a period of time, if no one claims them, the folks who discovered the bundles will get to keep them.

Police and firefighters in Liberty, Ohio, were called to the Liberty Walmart on the afternoon of Nov. 16 to find a car on fire in the parking lot, reported WFMJ. Owner Stephanie Carlson, 40, told them there was a can of gas in the trunk and she had lighted a candle to get rid of the smell, but she later admitted she had poured gas on the seats and started the fire with a lighter because the car was dirty and there was a problem with the front wheel. The car belonged to her husband, who said he had been looking for her all day, and also told officers she had allegedly been found huffing mothballs and paint thinner recently. Police took her into custody and found a lighter and mothballs in her purse; she was charged with arson, inducing panic and criminal damaging.

Winter
Nice looking C10 in a junkyard

Revology Cars - Brand-New Reproduction Classic Mustang

"Revology Cars presents the world's first brand-new reproduction classic Mustang. We bring modern technology and classic style together like never before."

Revology Cars build and sell reproductions of classic 60s Mustangs using newer engines, transmissions, suspension and braking systems. The company sells these models:

1968 Mustang GT 2+2 Fastback R Spec powered by the 460hp 5.0-liter Ti-VCT ‘Coyote’ V-8 backed by a T56XL 6-speed manual. Price is $235,500.

1966 Mustang GT 2+2 Fastback: The Ford Mustang GT 2+2 Fastback was considered the most avant garde of the Mustang lineup in 1966. The Revology Mustang GT 2+2 Fastback is all that plus powerful, responsive, and comfortable enough to drive cross country. Price is $190,500.

1966 Mustang GT Convertible: Few cars are as iconic as the ’66 Ford Mustang GT convertible. Now, Revology’s quintessential pony car features modern performance, reliability and drivability so you can confidently go anywhere, anytime, and arrive in style. Price is $178,500.

1966 Shelby GT350/GT350H: The original GT350 was a race car made street-legal. The high-revving, naturally aspirated 435HP Revology GT350 delivers exhilarating performance without sacrificing everyday reliability, drivability or comfort. Price is $209,500.

1967 Shelby GT500: The original big block Shelby GT500 made the Mustang into a muscle car. The Revology GT500 carries on that tradition with a 600HP supercharged and intercooled V8 plus chassis and driveline modifications to handle its prodigious power. Price is $249,500.

1968 Mustang GT 2+2 Fastback: Price is $195,500.

And you thought original 60s Mustangs were expensive. See photos of all Revology Mustangs at revologycars.com

Winter
That is a 32 Ford in a storage container sitting in front of another 32 Ford. The hood in front belongs to a 39 Ford.

Ad Words

I read a lot of ads for old cars and trucks. I’ve found some words and phrases that the sellers of these vehicles should avoid. Here they are:

Rare
I read an ad for a 1969 car that said it was rare, one of only 7,000 built that year. Maybe if it was one of seven built it would be rare. Rare is a word that gets overused in the world of selling old cars. Rare also has a negative connotation for me. Rare means you won’t be able to find any parts and if you do they will be priced sky high.

Classic
Another overused word is classic. What is a classic car? I’m not sure but I don’t like seeing the word classic used to describe a car that was considered a piece of crap when it was new. These sellers should find something better to describe the old heap.

Rare Find
Were they looking for valuable gemstones and found an old car? I think this phrase means that the seller wants way too much for the car. And if this is such a rare find why are they so anxious to sell it?

Barn Fresh
Someone liked a vehicle so much that they parked it for years to rot in a leaky shed full of rats. The seller wants a lot more money for this vehicle because it was inside instead of rusting away outside in someone’s back yard. Sometimes they even run a hose from the carb to a can of gas and get the old heap to start. It doesn’t matter because if it says “barn fresh” it will need EVERYTHING.

Survivor
Any old car that is in one big piece can be called a survivor. Maybe that lousy TV show inspired more people to use this term to describe a worn out car that still looks half decent in a photo.

Collector Car
This phrase sure tells you a lot about an old car. This can be used to describe some new cars so why waste text space when you can be giving an honest description of the old car?

Antique
State law determines if a vehicle is an antique or not. Some sellers think that something magical happens to a vehicle when it gets some age on it. They actually think that the value suddenly jumps up.

All Original
I love seeing this phrase and then taking a look at the photo of the car. It usually reveals a bunch of non-original parts. Another favorite is 100% original. Come on! If the car is 100% original it’s probably still on the dealer’s showroom floor.

Complete
What does this mean? That all the parts are stashed in the trunk? Does it mean the car hasn’t been stripped too badly?

Rust Free
I really like seeing this and then reading that it only has minor “surface rust”. I’ve seen new cars with surface rust. Steel rusts…live with this knowledge.

Ground Up Restoration
Did they start with the dirt under the tires? If the car is restored said so. We don’t need to visualize topsoil when looking at a beautiful car.

One Owner
Why is it all these one owner cars are being sold by someone other than the one and supposedly only owner? Could it be the second owner bought the car (without taking the title to DMV) to sell at a profit?

Unrestored
I guess this can mean a lot of things. What I picture in my mind is a car that needs everything done to it and then some. That’s not a pretty picture.

Matching Numbers
Does this mean I win the lottery? Maybe it means I have to crawl over the engine and other parts to find these numbers that match. Then there is the fact that some engines were made before the body. So an engine with a build date a month before the body’s date is still “matching”. Just say it has the original engine.

Running When Parked
News flash: all cars ran at some time in their automotive lives. If it ran, why did someone park it and let it become one with the earth? I really have a tough time believing anyone who says “she ran great when I parked her” or “just rebuilt the engine before she was parked”.

85% Restored
I’ve seen 75%, 80%, 85% and 90% restored. What does it mean? Usually it means the owner paid a shop to paint the car. Why don’t we ever see 40% or 50% restored? Because that sounds like a LOT of WORK has to be done to the vehicle. Saying it is 85% restored fools people into thinking only the easy part is left. If it were true then the seller would do the last 15% and get more money for the car.

Winter
Short box Ford rusting in peace

Repair Mistakes & Blunders

From Rock Auto
I am reminded of a story from years ago when GM throttle body fuel injection was a new thing on cars. A customer had his two-week-old Cadillac towed into the dealership with a "no-start" problem. For two weeks, every technician at the dealership worked on it trying to start it but to no avail. We checked for spark, compression, timing; pulled codes; set codes; checked fuel pressure; checked to see if the bumpers fell off... Every conceivable thing was done to this vehicle we could think of and still no start. Finally, one of the techs decided to check the fuel spray/pattern from the throttle body. He got a bit of the spray on a piece of paper, tried to light it with a cigarette lighter, and it did not ignite. The tank and fuel system were drained, filled with fresh fuel, and the car fired right up.

After contacting the owner, who then spoke to his younger children, it was discovered that the kids were playing "gas station" with the new Cadillac and garden hose.

Bruce in Oregon

Winter
Dodge truck doesn't look like it needs much to get going

UN Climate Change Conference COP25

The UN Climate Change Conference COP 25 (December 2 – 13, 2019) took place under the Presidency of the Government of Chile and was held with logistical support from the Government of Spain. The President-designate for the conference was Ms. Carolina Schmidt, Minister of Environment of Chile.

The conference was designed to take the next crucial steps in the UN climate change process. Following agreement on the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement at COP 24 in Poland last year, a key objective was to complete several matters with respect to the full operationalization of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The conference furthermore served to build ambition ahead of 2020, the year in which countries have committed to submit new and updated national climate action plans. Crucial climate action work will be taken forward in areas including finance, the transparency of climate action, forests and agriculture, technology, capacity building, loss and damage, indigenous peoples, cities, oceans and gender.

Below is what the Washington Post had to say when the conference was over:
"Global climate talks lurched to an end here Sunday with finger-pointing, accusations of failure and fresh doubts about the world's collective resolve to slow the warming of the planet — at a moment when scientists say time is running out for people to avert steadily worsening climate disasters.

After more than two weeks of negotiations, punctuated by raucous protests and constant reminders of a need to move faster, negotiators barely mustered enthusiasm for the compromise they had patched together, while raising grievances about the issues that remain unresolved.

The negotiators failed to achieve their primary goals. Central among them: persuading the world’s largest carbon-emitting countries to pledge to tackle climate change more aggressively beginning in 2020."

And this:
"Sunday’s outcome underscored how international divisions and a lack of momentum threaten the effort to limit the warming of Earth and avoid dangerous levels, only four years after the Paris agreement produced a moment of global solidarity.

The lack of progress in Spain sets up a critical moment ahead of next year’s gathering in Scotland, where countries will be asked to show up with more ambitious pledges to slash their carbon footprints.

But Sunday’s conclusion raised new doubts about whether key nations would rise to that challenge. Already, many countries are not keeping the promises they made in Paris in 2015, when leaders pledged to limit global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) — and to try to remain below 1.5 degrees Celsius."

And finally:
"The United States is in its final year as part of the international agreement it once helped spearhead. The Trump administration has said it officially will withdraw from the Paris accord on Nov. 4, 2020 — the day after the U.S. presidential election."

Winter
Two Fords in a pole building

Top 25 New Vehicles Sold in US for the First 6 Months of 2019

It is no surprise that SUVs and pickup trucks continue to take an increasing percentage of the US vehicle market. According to data compiled by the automotive-research firm Kelley Blue Book, 17 of the 25 best-selling new vehicles in the US this year through June are SUVs or pickup trucks. Ford's F-Series took the top spot by a margin of 50%. Below are the top 25.

  • 25. Hyundai Elantra - 2019 US sales through June: 84,971
  • 24. Subaru Forester - 2019 US sales through June: 86,219
  • 23. Subaru Outback - 2019 US sales through June: 93,711
  • 22. Ford Fusion - 2019 US sales through June: 96,351
  • 21. Jeep Cherokee - 2019 US sales through June: 97,210
  • 20. GMC Sierra - 2019 US sales through June: 97,403
  • 19. Ford Explorer - 2019 US sales through June: 101,823
  • 18. Nissan Altima - 2019 US sales through June: 108,777
  • 17. Nissan Sentra - 2019 US sales through June: 109,899
  • 16. Toyota Highlander - 2019 US sales through June: 111,183
  • 15. Jeep Wrangler - 2019 US sales through June: 117,065
  • 14. Toyota Tacoma - 2019 US sales through June: 121,866
  • 13. Jeep Grand Cherokee - 2019 US sales through June: 123,272
  • 12. Honda Accord - 2019 US sales through June: 129,435
  • 11. Ford Escape - 2019 US sales through June: 133,100
  • 10. Toyota Corolla - 2019 US sales through June: 138,747
  •   9. Honda Civic - 2019 US sales through June: 169,172
  •   8. Chevrolet Equinox - 2019 US sales through June: 174,157
  •   7. Nissan Rogue - 2019 US sales through June: 175,267
  •   6. Toyota Camry - 2019 US sales through June: 176,008
  •   5. Honda CR-V - 2019 US sales through June: 176,944
  •   4. Toyota RAV4 - 2019 US sales through June: 200,610
  •   3. Chevrolet Silverado - 2019 US sales through June: 255,463
  •   2. RAM - 2019 US sales through June: 299,480
  •   1. Ford F-Series - 2019 US sales through June: 448,398

Winter
1970 Chevelle with 350 emblems on the fenders

Support the RPM Act

Sign at this link: www.votervoice.net/SEMA/campaigns/45394/respond

The RPM Act is common-sense, bi-partisan legislation to protect law-abiding citizens who convert cars, trucks and motorcycles into racing vehicles. The bill clarifies that it is legal to make emissions-related changes to a street vehicle for the purpose of converting it into a racecar used exclusively in competition. It also confirms that it is legal to produce, market and install racing equipment.

UPDATE TO THE RPM ACT - click link below
www.sema.org/epa-news

Cheap-tire Addiction Might Kill You, Even If Your Car Rides On The Best That Money Can Buy

By Jack Baruth of Hagerty
“I just want you to know… that I’m going to go to your funeral and make a horse-laughing noise all the way through the service. You are too stupid to hold this job.”

The year was 1999 and your humble author was working in the dingy basement office of a 1950s-era hospital with two other “UNIX dudes.” The first one—let’s call him Scott, because that was his name—was a 40-something fellow who’d come in from mainframes. The second— Greg—was a preternaturally intelligent and horrifyingly unsocialized fellow who had grown up in a house trailer 50 miles from the nearest city but who had nonetheless taught himself everything from C-language programming to Socratic questioning from books he’d found in a nearby landfill.

The three of us spent most of the day arguing about completely meaningless things, and the Topic of the Day was geographical accident frequency. I’d mentioned that most accidents (52 percent, from the most recent statistics) occur within five miles of home. Scott promptly suggested that this was due to drivers paying less attention in familiar surroundings. Greg heard this and went nuts. “You moron,” he screamed, because as technical people we had never received any effective training on how feelings outweigh facts in corporate life, “any possible plotting distribution would show you that most people spent the highest duration of time within five miles of their house. This is frequency-related, NOT HUMAN FACTORS RELATED!”

Well, at that point all three of us bum-rushed the whiteboards to start making our cases. I was on Greg’s side for this one, but Scott wouldn’t budge. Finally, Greg decided to appeal to Scott using the simplest possible test: “Scott, you have to drive from Los Angeles to your home in Grove City, Ohio. It’s 2500 miles. You can either wear your seatbelt for the first 2495 miles or for the last five. Which would you pick?”

“The last five, obviously.” Which caused Greg to screech out the line that begins this column. It was a full day before Greg and Scott could be civil to each other, and two more days before we could all eat lunch together, and three months before Scott could leave the office without Greg saying:

“Don’t forget to put your seatbelt on when you get to Grove City.” When I had lunch with Greg 11 years after the fact, he said to me, “I hope you put on your seatbelt when you got close to the restaurant.” Greg’s hyper-logical mind couldn’t accept Scott’s inability to understand the generation of statistics. His mind also couldn’t remember where he put the keys to my four-speed Plymouth Colt, but that’s a story for another time.

Let’s talk about another aspect of motor vehicle fatalities—those oh-so-scary “distracted-driving” deaths caused by cell phones. I have a healthy contempt for the way those statistics are collected, because they rely on a quick off-the-cuff judgment by police at the accident scene, and it’s easier to blame a phone than to thoroughly investigate the crash. Still, the NHTSA tells us that about 400 deaths a year are due to cell phone use. That’s pretty bad, right? It must be. After all, we are treating “distracted driving” like it’s smallpox or something. It’s being used to justify a witches’ brew of privacy-invading measures up to and including having cameras in your own car that watch and record you while you drive. What on God’s green earth could be more dangerous than DISTRACTED DRIVING?

Wait a minute… I’ve found something. Tire failures are deadlier than distracted driving. Almost twice as deadly, according to NHTSA data. And given that it’s far easier to infer a tire failure as the cause of an accident than it is to figure out whether the cell phone in a driver’s lap was actually being used, I’m guessing that the disparity is even more severe than that.

What’s causing these tire failures? That’s where we leave my old friend Greg’s safe ground of statistics and wander into Scott’s land of speculation. This much I know: Modern tires from European and American facilities are almost immune to failure. It takes a black-swan event like Ford’s choice of 235-width instead of 225-width Firestones, coupled with some unusual tire-pressure recommendations and a 1970s-era truck platform, to create a real problem with modern tires from our mainline manufacturers. I’ve personally observed tens of thousands of laps done on racetracks with today’s street tires, and I’m aware of one failure—a pair of blowouts on a Kumho V720-equipped Viper ACR, at the Nurburgring. That V720 was infamous in the business for being a very special-purpose tire designed for a very specific use case that didn’t include 170-mph corners.

If everyday tires don’t fail, then why are we seeing so many tire deaths? Some of them are no doubt due to age and condition. This was less of an issue 30 years ago, when replacement Michelins for my VW Fox were $47 each. Today’s massive SUVs and crossovers often arrive in showrooms wearing $2500 or more worth of rubber. Their buyers are stretched to the limit by the lease payments, and they are lulled into complacency by the size, ride height, and quietness of their new vehicles, so they will often run them right now to effective baldness. A 10-year-old tire with 1/8th-inch tread remaining is not as safe as it was at the time of manufacture. Even so, they’re unlikely to fail. They’re just more likely to send you skidding off the road when it rains or snows.

There’s a bigger problem out there, and it’s this: The past decade has seen a hurricane of no-brand tires imported into the United States from China and other low-cost producers. The change in volume has been so significant that the U.S. International Trade Commission launched an investigation in 2016 to see if China was illegally subsidizing tire sales into this country—an investigation which ended with a whimper instead of a bang because there wasn’t enough information to make a decisive finding.

You all remember the Explorer/Firestone debacle that ended with significant penalties being paid by Bridgestone/Firestone and with a massive recall and replacement of tires. Well, imagine if it had been Guizhou Tyre Co., or Double Coin Tire, which are two of the many Chinese importers. What would have happened? Could American customers have gotten satisfaction from two firms based soup-to-nuts outside the reach of American law?

The answer, of course, is “haha, no,” which is why Ford doesn’t put Double Coins on new Explorers today. But that doesn’t stop a tremendous number of cash-and-credit-strapped Explorer owners from choosing a $63 Chinese no-brand instead of the $389 OEM replacement when it’s time to put on that first set of replacements. In a heartbeat, you’ve degraded your $48,000 SUV from a comprehensively-tested mechanical unit to what Donald Rumsfield called an “unknown unknown.” You’re asking the stability and traction control systems of your vehicle to compensate for tires that may behave in a radically different fashion under stress and load. In short, you’ve just made a choice that is possibly riskier than driving down the freeway while watching YouTube on your phone.

As a Hagerty reader, and an auto enthusiast, you probably know the difference between first-rate OEM replacement tires, or even stellar aftermarket choices like the “Hoosierstone” RE-71, and the low-cost junk being sold at your local tire installer—but the average buyer has no idea. And Chinese manufacturers are capitalizing on this, producing tires that are visually near-duplicates of traditional choices like the Bridgestone KO2. They look about the same. How could anyone but an experienced auto-industry veteran know that they are not the same? Can you tell the difference between a KitchenAid dishwasher made in Ohio and a no-brand Chinese dishwasher that looks pretty much the same? If you can’t, what makes you think that non-enthusiasts can discern the difference between a $63 tire and a $389 tire?

“Geez, Jack, calm down.” I can hear my readers already. “I’m running N-spec tires on my 987 Cayman. What does this have to do with me?” Well, you might be running the right tire—but the cars and trucks all around you probably aren’t, the same way that your responsible decision not to play Fortnite while driving doesn’t insulate you from the consequences of being struck by the battle-royale champion in the Yukon Denali next to you. We all share the risks of cheap tires, even if we don’t buy ’em.

Incidentally, getting rid of substandard tires is much easier, as a legislative and technical issue, than getting rid of cell phone distraction. There’s no law that says we have to let substandard tires—or any tires—into this country. President Trump is raising tariffs on these products, which may cause the economics majors in this audience a bit of heartburn, but it certainly decreases the incentives to buy an inferior and potentially unsafe product. We could also increase the amount of testing done in order to obtain DOT certification, while imposing random portside tests on overseas-sourced tires, with the costs borne by the importers. Last but not least, we could empower police officers to check, and issue citations regarding, tire tread depth and condition in every roadside stop. Heck, you could have parking enforcers do it. They keep citing me for a missing front plate on my 911; they could just as easily be checking the tread depth or DOT age stamp.

All of these proposals require much less effort than putting nannycams and cell phone frequency blockers in every new automobile, and they would immediately improve the safety of many more vehicles. The fact that our governing authorities appear to be extremely interested in monitoring your cell phone use in a car, but they are completely uninterested in the safety of the tires on that car… well, that should get you thinking a little bit about their motives.

Before we put on our tinfoil hats, however, I’ll close by saying this: You should make sure that you’re running major-brand tires of appropriate age and condition on all of your vehicles. It can be a hard pill to swallow—I’m not looking forward to replacing the Eagle GTs on the aforementioned 911 due to age, even though their tread still looks brand new. But it’s the safest and smartest thing to do. And if you don’t care? Well, as Greg might say, it’s your funeral. But there won’t be anyone laughing.

Winter
A real GTO

Winter
Ford and Dodge trucks seeing who can sink into the ground the fastest

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