Here is the latest reader question, along with my reply:
Brennan asks: Do you foresee any companies like Dodge building a car like the Challenger or Charger without the engine and then selling the engine separately as a way to avoid the taxes/penalties imposed to keep the fleet average high enough? Would this be a viable way to get around Uncle’s laws?
My reply: That is an interesting idea! And it might be legal – for the moment. Kit car manufacturers are exempted from many of the mandates that apply to production cars; for example, they are not required to meet the same federal saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety standards that apply to “production cars.”
You can buy a kit AC Cobra without air bags, etc.
However, these are kit cars as defined by law – and I am pretty sure there is a restriction on volume; that is, how many may be produced/sold before it becomes not legal to produce/sell them.
A major automaker such as FiatChrysler relies on volume – mass production – to make a profit. For the scenario you describe to become feasible, the company would have to scale down to a fraction of its current output – and that isn’t tenable for a variety of reasons, including the need to amortize the massive investment in tooling, facilities and so on they’ve made.
The more likely scenario I foresee is that small operations will crop up that specialize in restoring older, pre-computer cars for use as daily drivers. These would be brought back to good mechanical order, perhaps updated here and there (for example, replacing a carburetor with a simple TBI injection system) and not as show cars. These would be ordinary older cars – not high-value collectibles.
For instance, a ’70s-era four door Malibu or similar.
My next car will probably be something similar. I have always liked mid-late ’70s El Caminos and one of those would serve the same purpose as my little truck, but without the computer and the air bags and all the rest of it!
. . .
Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
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