Well, the House of Representatives approved the Cash for Clunkers bill last night. That means drivers trading an older car for a more fuel efficient one can get up to a $4500 toward their new car from the government. But what’s this? Congress squeezed in a couple of provisions squeezed that make it perhaps not as catastrophic as we had feared.
1. To get $3500, the trade-in car needs to get 18mpg or less and the new car needs to get 22mpg or more. To get $4500 the difference needs to be 10 mpg better over the trade-in.
Excellent! Most nostalgics get pretty good fuel economy. 18mpg is easily within reach and in many cases they get way more, making it all the harder to find a modern equivalent that gets at least 4mpg more.
2. The bill targets 1985 or newer cars, so most of your precious chrome-laden J-tin is safe. Apparently the EPA didn’t track the “Combined Fuel Economy” before then, so they can’t determine what qualifies without jumping an extra hurdle.
For 1978-84 cars, the Secretary of Transportation gets to decide the mileage figure, which will be posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Admin website. No provision is made for pre-1978 cars so those get off Scott free.
For enthusiasts of late 80s Japanese steel, grab ‘em while you can. Trade-ins must be scrapped, and although you can strip off any part excluding the engine block, how many average drivers are going to do that? Fortunately cars from this era are still plentiful and cheap.
So breathe a sigh of relief for now, and keep your fingers crossed because now the bill has to go onto the Senate – where changes may occur – before being signed by President Obama.