Hello Huib and other Lancisti,
I have read both your letter and the replies with much interest, and the points you raise are all good ones. There are a few points I'd like to add - mostly about unleaded petrol.
I live in Victoria, Australia, where unleaded petrol was introduced in 1986. Several years after that an advertising campaign was run to encourage people running suitable leaded-engined cars to use unleaded to "reduce pollution". The campaign was quietly dropped after it was realized that cars with no catalytic converter and using unleaded petrol are pumping BENZENE strait into the atmosphere. Benzene is a much more dangerous pollutant than lead once it reaches the atmosphere. At the same time a study was done on catalytic converters and it was found that most need to be changed after 40-50,000 kms, as they lose their effectiveness. I ask myself - how often is this done? How much pollution is caused by "new" cars with ineffective catalytic converters?
Several years later again, the Federal Government canvassed several options to reduce the average age of the motor fleet in Australia, one of which was a "crushing" proposal similar to that in Italy. The study done by the government revealed that the most effective proposal, in terms of cost and reduction of pollution, was to provide some sort of incentive to make people tune their cars regularly. Modern cars that were out of tune produced more pollution than an "old" car that was properly maintained. In other words the age of the car does not have a huge bearing on the amount of pollutants pumped into the atmosphere!
So what, you ask, did the government do? It raised the price of leaded petrol - "to encourage people to buy newer cars". Of course this is ridiculous - if you cant afford a newer car because you are poor this extra tax is iniquitous, and if you are a classic car owner / lover, you are not going to get rid of your car anyway!
The problem with all government intervention in this area is that they use a sledgehammer to crack a nut - any proposal they suggest will not only catch the rubbish cars, but also classics. All that can be done is to organize, and let governments know that whereas car companies (whom I believe are behind all these proposals) can provide money, classic car lovers provide votes, and any government should consider that before making any decisions.
Roger Clark, email@example.com
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