Modern Rodding STARTING OVER
A headshot picture of Brian Brennan grinning
By Brian Brennan
Times They are a Changin’ … Faster Than I can Ever Recall

hange is a part of life, whether we like it or not. While change is inevitable it is also inevitable that “change” isn’t going to change. For the most part we grumble but most of us adapt to change so that it fits better within our daily life. We see it all the time. However, it does seem changes are coming faster than at any time in the past. We have survived a lot, and my guess is we will continue to do so, but there are a few changes coming down the road that might be just a bit harder to swallow.

I remember the first smog emission–equipped factory muscle cars in the mid ’60s. It was a bitter pill to swallow but over time I have come to see that truly was for the better (but still a bummer). Then there was the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973-1974, which put the U.S. in the crosshairs of the OPEC countries. This came about because of the Arab-Israeli War and this was my first true experience with skyrocketing gas prices. I’m sure this sounds a bit familiar to those who pay attention to the current headlines. I remember when the national speed limit went from 65 to 55 mph. You could have put a fork in me and called me “done.” I struggled with that one for its duration. Well, changes are coming faster and are more impactful. Frankly, I cannot remember a time when gasoline prices have escalated so quickly and achieved such record highs. Unfortunately, this current escalation doesn’t appear to be going downward anytime soon.

And that brings me to our latest—especially for those of us living in California, but don’t get too smug. This change will make its way across the country like so many other automotive and other lifestyle changes have a way of doing.

California has long been a trendsetter in any number of areas. Many are something to be proud of, and some not-so much. There is a current “trend” that is gaining steam and coming to a head shortly. It was back in 2020 that California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order (never a good sign) to phase out the sale of new diesel- or gas-powered cars in the state by 2035. A closer look reveals that the intent is to require 35 percent of new cars, SUVs, and small trucks to be zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) beginning in 2026. That number moves up to 68 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2035.

According to SEMA (who is actively attempting to protect the car hobby throughout this process), approximately 560,000 vehicles currently within California (or 2 percent of the 28-million-plus vehicles currently in use) will be affected. It is also predicted that by 2025 the ZEV and plug-in hybrids will make up about 8 percent of the new vehicle sales. The tell of the tale will occur on June 9, 2022 (a matter of a week or two from this reading) at a hearing held by the California Air Resources Board with a subsequent vote to come August of this year. While most of you are thinking, “That doesn’t effect me,” true, initially, but there are at least 15 other states that are following California’s emission standards for cars.

It should be noted that according to SEMA, “… the sale of used cars would not be affected under the proposal, and it would not force the current fleet of diesel- or gas-powered vehicles off the road.” This is an important aspect for those of us who are in the auto hobby, especially in the aftermarket segment of the industry as our entire hobby revolves around old-timey cars–or hot rods as we like to say.

It would appear on the surface that this type of legislation will make its way across the country, while having a minimal impact on us—as “car guys with hot rods.” It may start that way but give this some thought and I’m sure many of you will begin to see the inroads legislation like this can have on our industry and hobby.

It should also be noted that the Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) is also keeping their “ear to the road” when it comes to “What is a hot rod?” Fundamentally, I have always thought of a hot rod as a car (or truck) built to reflect the owner’s own preferences with regard to styling and performance. We can no longer stick to the fact that a hot rod needs to be from a particular year or earlier. (Well, some of us may never make the crossover but …) The HRIA is actively looking at the forthcoming of what constitutes a modern hot rod and that means the emergence of the electric vehicle. It also means hot rodders taking such “packages” and transplanting them into traditional-looking hot rods and making what would now constitute a “modern hot rod.”

Hang on as change is coming quickly. Those of us who take the time to understand will be better suited to make the adaptations and continue to enjoy our hobby. Electric cars will find their ways in almost all of our garages and there might even be a few who will be driving a “vintage EV.”

Modern Rodding
VOLUME 3 • ISSUE 21 • 2022