“Dyno” Don Bayti offers an inside look at the California historic vehicle movement, its work on the California Collector Car Protection Bill, and his views on the biggest regulatory threat facing the future of the historic vehicle hobby.
A former vice president and Inland Empire (California) director of the Association of California Car Clubs, Don Bayti’s love for street rods started in high school with his rebuild of a ’47 Ford coupe. Now a retired executive, this passionate car guy lives in Riverside. Bayti is a former Sportsman drag racer and member of the Over the Hill Gang Car Club (Berdoo). He’s also the former editor of the club’s newsletter and, more recently, founder of the Faithful Network, an email newsletter that offers updates and commentary on political issues impacting California collectors.
Q: What do you think are the biggest threat(s) to the historic vehicle hobby?
A: Definitely, what I call the “eco ideology.” From global warming to the never-ending parade of initiatives that are supposedly designed to help clean up our air—I believe it is all driven by greed and by people who do not understand the science. People like Al Gore are using fear and misinformation and becoming very wealthy by brokering cap and trade credits worldwide. When it comes to problems with “dirty air” collectors become an easy target. I want clean air and believe that in isolated areas in America there are problems with air quality. But I also believe Mother Nature does a good job keeping the air clean. For example, I live in the Inland Empire, right next to the L.A. basin in California. What causes smog in the basin is the inversion layer that caps the basin in the summer. It goes away on the winter and the air is clean. I live on a hillside with a view and I can see it happening.
Q: In your opinion, is the regulatory scene in California really that tough for the hobby? Why?
A: Yes, the California Air Resources Bureau (CARB) has the power to regulate our vehicles without legislation under a law known as AB-32. CARB was created to deal with the federal government after the Clean Air & Water Act and the California legislature has given them far too much power over the years. They have now become the dominant factor over the state’s economy. This is what led to Prop 23. CARB gets to keep all their own fees and fines and they are not dependent on the general fund, so they end up “fee-ing” and fining business until the owners cannot afford to do business in California any longer and leave. For the first time in the state’s history, more business and jobs are leaving California than are coming in.
Q: Can you explain what the “California Collector Car Protection Bill” is that you and other clubs are working on in California?
A: At the moment, the only protection collectors have is the "older than ‘76 rule," which exempts our cars from the bi-annual registration check only. This leaves the door open for CARB and “random” checks. The new bill will exempt older than ‘76 from all checks for a fee. Q: How important do you think it is for clubs and car guys to join and work together with groups like the HVA? A: I believe organizations like ACCC, GOODGUYS, NSRA, and HVA should provide leadership to create a "voter block" that both California and other state and federal lawmakers will listen to. Public opinion is a powerful tool to show legislators we are serious. If we don't voice our opinions and do a better job than our opposition at making our views known, our historic vehicles will become museum art and garage decoration.
Q: What do you see happening to the hobby if clubs and car guys don’t get involved?
A: That’s pretty simple. The EPA, CARB, and other state government entities will regulate our vehicles off the road and we’ll all be forced to drive "electrics." Hobbyists can no longer remain silent. They must let their legislators know how they feel in letters, emails, and phone calls. If we remain silent, eco-ideological legislators will simply regulate us out of existence.