December 3, 1995 by John Lynker, Scripps Howard News Service.
Just because a car or truck is old, it isn't necessarily a clunker.
That, at least, is the message from the American Automotive Heritage Foundation a non-profit, charitable and tax-exempt foundation dedicated to promoting, protecting and preserving the American automotive heritage through public education and related activities.
Terry Ehrich, foundation president, says he loves cars and believes they are being misrepresented in what have become known as "clunker" programs. For example, Ehrich feels Clean Air Act provisions that give "credits" to industrial polluters if they get a certain amount of old cars off the road, points the same finger at the innocent as well as the guilty.
Ehrich is not only an auto enthusiast but also a strong supporter of environmental programs. As publisher of Hemmings Motor News, a national publication based in Bennington, Vt., Ehrich has supported environmental programs that have prevented his company from expanding on his many acres of open land. His company now will have to operate from two locations.
In defense of car collectors, however, there are two points he hopes the foundation can get across to the American people and their elected representatives:
- Collector cars are carefully cared for and therefore produce limited pollution. Ehrich says the poorly serviced car, new or old, presents the problem.
- Collector cars are used in a limited manner. Most insurance policies and historic registrations permit no more than 2,500 miles per year. Ehrich says a Hemmings survey shows most of these vehicles travel fewer than 1,000 miles a year. Ehrich contends that to take such a vehicle off the road to permit a large stationary facility such as a power plant to continue to pollute is bad legislation.
Ehrich is not against getting poorly maintained older cars off the road but is concerned that by mandating that they go to a crusher to gain "pollution credits" takes away the potential for parts for car collectors.
Ehrich also is concerned that large central auto inspection stations will force many historic vehicles off the road. Just the drive to such a station may put more miles on the vehicle than the enthusiast drives in many months.
The American Automotive Heritage Foundation plans to help educate today's youth about the importance of the motor vehicle to America's past and to tell them that, with proper maintenance, America's love of the auto does not have compromise our need for a clean environment.