Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
October 25, 2010
Photos By: The Mustang Monthly Archives

"We the people" are not just words from the first line of an old document. We are the people who love Mustangs, muscle cars, hot rods, street rods, and other automotive pursuits. We are also the people who have to work to protect our automotive passions from unnecessary, unfair, or well-intentioned but poorly written laws and regulations. Our greatest tool in making that difference is our voice. By speaking out on issues that concern the automotive hobby, contacting our representatives, and working constructively with government officials, we have the power to protect our passion and keep it safe for future generations of auto hobbyists and enthusiasts.

Top Threats
Here are just a few of the issues that are affecting our Mustang lifestyle.

Inoperable Vehicles
We call them parts cars or even hidden treasures: non-enthusiasts call them eyesores. Someone has said, "Freedom is being able to wake up on the weekend to be able to work on your own car in your own backyard." But you could come home one afternoon to find a ticket on your project car that's parked on your property. In some areas of the country, it's all too real. State and local laws-some on the books now, others pending-can or will dictate where you can work on your Mustang. Believe it or not, that Mustang you've stashed behind your house until the new crate engine arrives or the convertible you've hung onto since high school could very easily be towed out of your yard depending on the zoning laws in your area.

Some zealous government officials are waging war against what they consider "eyesores." To us, they are valuable on-going restoration projects. But to a non-enthusiast lawmaker, your diamond-in-the-rough looks like a junker ready for the salvage yard. If you're not careful, that's exactly where it will wind up. Hobbyists are becoming increasingly alarmed about the many states and localities currently enforcing or attempting to legislate strict property or zoning laws that include restrictions on visible inoperable automobile bodies and parts. Often, removal of these vehicles from private property is enforced through local nuisance laws with little or no notice to the owner.

Scrappage Programs
In recent years, state and federal officials have attempted to implement emissions reduction programs that target older vehicles. Most state scrappage programs allow "smokestack" industries to avoid reducing their own emissions by buying pollution credits generated through destroying these vehicles. The programs accelerate the normal retirement of vehicles through the purchase of older cars, which are crushed. Enthusiasts suffer from the indiscriminate destruction of older cars and their reusable parts. America safeguards its artistic and architectural heritage against indiscriminate destruction, and our automotive and industrial heritage deserves the same protection.

While some legislation designed to spur sales of new and used automobiles is positive, such as vouchers towards the purchase of new or used cars or tax credits to help upgrade, repair, or maintain older vehicles, scrappage provisions are not. They focus on vehicle age rather than actual emissions produced. This approach is based on the erroneous assumption that old cars are dirty cars. However, the true culprits are "gross polluters"-vehicles of any model year that are poorly maintained.

Exhaust Noise
Imagine getting stopped for the performance mufflers on your well-maintained '70 Mustang. Now imagine sitting on the shoulder, receiving a citation, while a stock Ferrari roars by. This is the scene being played out on highways across the country, the result of poorly drafted or ineffective state laws and regulations. Some laws cite the manufacturer's specifications or a factory-installed muffler as the basis on which vehicle exhaust noise is measured.