Congressman John Campbell represents California’s 48th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. He’s also a serious car guy. See what he thinks about the future of the hobby and what he and the Republican congress plan to do to protect it.
Q: Do you own any historic or collector vehicles? If so, please tell us about them.
A: I actually own 18 cars that could be considered collector cars. The “newest” of these is a 1993 Corvette ZR-1 40th Anniversary Edition and my oldest is a 1936 Cord Westchester Sedan. In between, I have everything from a 1972 Ferrari 365 GTC/4 to a 1958 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham to a 1947 Mercury Woodie. It’s kind of an eclectic collection.
Q: How have you worked so far to protect the interest of historic vehicle hobbyists and collectors?
A: I don’t think there is much that the historic vehicle hobbyists and collectors want from their government—except to be allowed the freedom to continue to own, restore, and, most importantly, drive their cars. So, this is not so much about passing legislation as it is about making sure that restrictive legislation is not passed. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about the hobby and I try and correct that in Congress. For example, the impact of the hobby on the environment is much less than many policymakers imagine. But the economic impact of the hobby—including jobs created—is much larger than typically known.
Q: What are the implications of California’s Prop 23 being defeated? What should collectors being doing proactively to address it?
A: The defeat of Prop. 23 means that the “carbon footprint” of any human activity can now be regulated by the state. We need to make sure that state officials understand both how little these cars are driven and how many jobs the hobby creates in order to establish an exemption for historic vehicles from this new law, just as pre-1976 cars are currently exempt from smog emissions requirements.
Q: As a California policy maker, what do you see coming down the pike in regard to future laws impacting the hobby?
A: The most immediate threat to the hobby in Washington, DC is a new proposal to require 15-percent ethanol in gasoline. The current proposal is to continue to make existing E10 gas available for cars made before 2007. Since the higher ethanol content could wreak havoc with the fuel lines and fuel delivery systems in anything built in the 20th century, we need to ensure that E15 does not become universal. And, the “global warming” legislation that passed in California has a very similar federal counterpart floating around Washington, as well. New fuel economy standards and other pronouncements of the federal government should not reach backwards in time to older cars, and ensuring this is always a challenge and a mission.
Q: Do you see the new Republican control of the House as helpful to the historic vehicle community?
A: As a Republican congressman, I confess my bias on this question. But I do believe that the new Republican majority will be helpful to the collector car community. First of all, we understand that amongst our main missions are the improvement of the economy and the creation of private-sector jobs. The great expansion of the historic vehicle hobby in the last decade or so has created a lot of U.S. jobs and economic activity, and, if anything, we want to expand that growth. Also, a Republican majority is unlikely to be supportive of legislation to regulate “carbon footprints” when our foreign competitors are doing no such thing. Furthermore, I have long espoused how collector vehicles represent a rare combination of history, art, and engineering, and that policies are needed to protect these cars, the culture they represent, and our ability to drive them.
To find out more about Congressman John Campbell, visit his website www.campbell.house.gov.