Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Just a few words before I make a fool of myself.....

Many years ago, I was a Volkswagen owner. I got my first in 1960, and owned eight of them over the years.

Volkswagens were fun to own, because you could practically dismantle them in your driveway, and fixing them was simple hobbycraft, especially if you were equipped with John Muir's book, How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive. One thing that John Muir said, which I think was very wise, was about exhaust emissions.

His idea was that exhaust emissions were not such a serious factor in the small displacement engines of Volkswagens, and that made me think that the gu'ment really took a wrong turn when they began to resist pollution from automobiles. What would have happened to the auto industry if the regulators had simply put a limit on engine displacement? They wouldn't have had to stop at 900 CCs, that's probably a little too small for the average family car, but someting around two liters or so, and then they could say, "This is the maximum displacement. Go forth and build the best, most efficient, handsome and marketable dreamboat you can with that one limitation".

Instead, they went for PPM measurement of toxic gasses. Of course an engine that sucks less air passes less gas. So the Ms would be smaller, and the PPs would be more or less taken care of by the smaller M number.

Lately I've heard on the radio, and also on TV, some laments by people who just don't seem to get it. A fellow last Monday was talking about the "clunkers" program. He thought it had no value, because it didn't really save anybody money. Someone else said it didn't really help poor people to get cars, and yet another was talking about the fact that the clunkers had to be drivable, and they were going to destroy the engines. What a shame to destroy a perfectly good engine.

Today, a dealer was saying that, since they could not resell the trade-ins (clunkers), there was going to be a shortage of used cars for them to sell.

Yesss, isn't getting rid of the old cars one of the main purposes of getting the government involved in these transactions? Isn't the point to encourage the sale of new, more fuel efficient cars, and to get rid of inefficient fuel hogs?

If it isn't, that SHOULD be the the primary goal of We, the People, of the United States of promote the general welfare by starting to clean up the air we breathe.

And, as usual, this turned out to be longer than intended so it's somewhat more than a "few words", so I may have made a fool of myself anyway.



Anonymous said...

Hmmm Mr.H,
I totally agree... they made me register and "smog" my clunker before they could take it in trade...and destroy's like a nurse cleaning off a condemned mans arm off with alchohol before giving him the lethal needle...totally unnecessary...California pays more for gas than just about anyone because we have smog, catalytic converters in our cars...ugh...I wish the gu'vment had restricted in the 60's we would not be in such a smog mess now!!! ciao Rufus

Willie C said...

Gotta say you speak wisdom here, Rufus, and the fact that in Texas, you can't go anywhere unless you have a car is a problem. It's probably the same in California. I know that resticting the size of engines is not the perfect solution, but think how much less smog trouble we'd have if the industry hadn't gone through that "horsepower and performance" marketing phase that led to their own destruction, when the popularity of foreign cars tried to give them a hint, and they ignored it.

In about 1973, one of my draftsmen was saying, "I don't want a crappy car like a Volkswagen, I want a real car". He bought a Ford Maverick, and when he took for for a ride in it, I realized that Detroit didn't want to build small cars, so they made them so junky that they would be unpopular. I think the American car makers made their own bed.

My first two efforts to "buy Amrican", after I decided to abandon my Volkswagen phase,were a Dodge Colt, made by Mitsubishi, and a Chevy LUV, made by Isusu.

Now, I'm a Ford man, but one of them is a Mazda B2300, and the other one is an Escort.