Buy Back Programs Destroying Old Cars

Here’s some truly disturbing news for nostalgic car owners. We recently spotted a billboard portraying a Datsun B210 as a generic polluting old car while visiting NorCal for the Motoring J Style show. Turned out, it was part of a California program to buy back cars that fail the state’s infamously strict smog check. For up to $1000, these cars will be “retired” from service, meaning that the government is paying people to scrap old cars. According to a new Detroit News article, this program replaced 16,000 vehicles last year, and unfortunately for us nostalgists, the trend is growing.

The article also reports that Texas has instituted a similar program that offers a generous $3500 payment and has already retired 11,000 cars since January. Three areas in Canada have gotten in on the action as well. Unsurprisingly, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents the interests of automakers who want to sell you tons and tons of new cars, agrees wholeheartedly with such programs.

Naturally, we find this a bit distressing. We have a hard enough time finding these vintage machines and their parts. Now the state is sponsoring their mass extinction. Even sadder, check out this article from Hot Rod (thanks, Bob), which proves that there are plenty of perfectly good cars being led to the slaughter by clueless owners.

It’s not that we don’t want to reduce pollution; we think that’s a noble and worthy cause. But we have to wonder, how green is this really? To fully understand the trade-off, we have to take into account the entire lifecycle of the product and ask, “What does it take to produce that new car?”

Think of all the iron ore that has to be mined, plastics created, paints and dyes used, and factories powered. The manufacture of one new car requires almost 40,000 gallons of water according to the US Geological Survey. Not to mention the cost of transporting these materials and delivering the finished car to its new owner, who may have just thrown out a car with years of life left.

The best solution, in our opinion, is to keep that jalopy and for the manufacturers, if they are indeed so concerned about their old products polluting our skies, to offer bolt-in engine swap kits based on their latest motors and let the states dish out cash for that. Who’s with us?

[Detroit News via Autoblog]

This post is filed under: laws, manufacturing.

20 Responses to Buy Back Programs Destroying Old Cars

  1. rex jenney says:

    Thank you for bringing this topic to the fore. I have been saying this for years, even when fuel was cheap(er). The carbon Footprint (and the wallet footprint) of even a ’71 Ford F-100 HAS to be less than a brand-new Prius, because the damage of the “gas-guzzler” has been done, and the yet un-built Prius, (“Toyota Sales Down 5.8%”) could power that big-ass pick-um-up truck for another 100,000 miles( 10 m.p.g. X $5 Gal.=$5,000), leaving $20,000 for a paint job, the technology to get a Ford F-100 to 10 M.P.G., a Lift-Kit, HUUGE TIRES, a blower, “Whoa Momma, now I’m back to 6, got’s ta’ get me a second job!” I don’t know if we’ll ever learn, but thank you so much for trying!

  2. PERTANO says:

    Unfortunately I have dealt with this program already with a couple cars I’ve found. I had to convince one owner from sending a very nice 76 Datsun 710 to the crusher as well as a running and smog passing 1981 Corolla. It’s unfortunate, but alot of these owners have no clue about the Japanese nostalgic car movement or peoples love for cars in general. Unfortunately as the price of steel and oil goes up you will only see the payout for old cars and any other source of steel go up. Just the sign of the times.

  3. billy-280z says:

    This is absurd! I can’t believe someone would actually take their car to one of these centers to be crushed. Why not just sell the car or give it to somebody who will bring it back and drive it? The quality and workmanship of new cars is ridiculous anyway. All the carmakers want is a car that will last until the warranty is up and make you buy a new one, how many civics and cavaliers will be on the road 31 years from now like my Z? not many I’m sure.

  4. Jeff Brown says:

    That idea sounds good to me. Programs like this piss me off to no end.

  5. Nick says:

    I’m with you on those “update” swap kits. There’s nothing I hate more than to see a car (any car) get shred to pieces for no reason.

  6. supraman215 says:

    Sounds like we’re moving in the direction of Japan that requires you dispose of your car after 3 years.

  7. leongsoon says:

    I like the idea of manufacturers offering parts to breath new life into old cars, but to be honest, we all know it’s a very daunting task, provided the inventory of parts and cars grow rapidly as time progresses.

  8. Bob says:

    Thanks guys. 🙂

    I’m really rather sad/angry that this made it to my local paper (Detroit News) without having any sort of opposing viewpoint. Detroit has long been a classic-car haven, and I’ve always been rather pissed off when I read news around here written by people who don’t know anything about cars. Are you telling me you couldn’t find a writer who knows something about cars? Seriously now. I’ll volunteer.

    Anyways, I’m rambling. But we need to step up and try to quell this crap. The SEMA Action Network does a lot of fighting against this stuff, but it’s hard even then. The more people we get to fight this, the better.

  9. bloody disgusting this.

  10. panda[cRx] says:

    nice idea but i don’t think you’ll find any government in the world that would pour money into old rusty cars with no modern safety features (abs, airbags, traction control etc)

  11. Koich says:

    Yeah, I got a letter in the mail 2 years ago saying “We’ll buy your Celica for $50 if you put it in the crusher. If your car has sentimental value to you, then forget this letter.” Needless to say, the letter made it’s way to the trash can immediately.

  12. Slickwrick says:

    im behind you 100% !!!

  13. Dan says:

    The only way to combat this is to fight fire with fire. It’s great that people like Bob from or us at JNC are aware of this and are trying to bring attention to it but we need to do more than that.
    If their sending letters or flyer’s like the ones Koich received then send out your own stating why using old car is cheaper than buying a new one.
    Get the message out anywhere you can,swap meets, auto events, family or friends.
    Heck ring up the local news-channel or newspaper and ask them for and interview or mail them your own article. You have to be pro-active on this sort of thing because you can’t play defense all day, you have to land a punch if you want to win.

  14. Raia says:

    I wouldnt trade my 20 yr old Nissan Pulsar for all the money in the world.
    There arent enough of them around anymore, anyway.
    I agree with the bolt on idea whole-heartedly!! That is the way to take us to the next level.
    I’ve been thinking about doing a conversion since I saw a guy in Canada successfully did it to a Pulsar.
    Take that emission standards!! No muffler since no emissions from a lithium battery and as green as you can get since I would be “RECYCLING” an older body.
    Free your mind and show the government you want to be a part of the solution instead of their ill-advised more expensive “quick fix” to the problem.

  15. Joe says:

    This is horrible, im all for saving the enviroment, but not like this. Send your cars to the East Coast, we’ll take car of em!

  16. zulu says:

    man i just one of these today! my dad shows me it right after im done taking my shower. yeah right like they are gona get to crush my celica for $650 !

  17. Ryou says:

    I’m honestly dissatisfied at our government.

    I’m about to buy an old Cressida, and when I came to pick it up, it wasn’t there. Turns out, when I was about to pay $650 for it, he got $1K from the government, and it was crushed! I literally cried nonstop for a day!
    This Sucks! We need to sign a petition!

  18. nancyfernandez says:

    Why not just sell the car or give it to somebody who will bring it back and drive it?I can’t believe someone would actually take their car to one of these centers to be crushed.In my point of view it is a foolish thing.
    Used Cars

  19. roosterfella says:

    nostalgic..soon becomes nostragic… oh dear…

  20. hungtu says:

    i will never get a car crushed it’s these new carmakers and poliyicians that are all screwed up, instead of buy buy buy new ect just fix are cars keep them and repair them better for environment better for pocket book and this stupid buy buy buy is wat got us into this current crisis that is now costing us and next generations .
    too many new cars too many car companys too many retailers too many bankers too many commentators ect.
    fix and repai wat we have conserve and save something this govt doesnt get it wants to line pockets of everyone else instead of save for ourselves for a rainy day.

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