In a move that shocked car enthusiasts and historians around the world, California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the state’s entire collection of vehicles (or related images) from 1966 and prior to be removed from any public grounds, museums, or other displays. 1967 was symbolic for California and the nation as a whole, as it represented the year that then-Governor Ronald Reagan approved the formation of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to help minimize air pollution from all sources.
“The time has come to erase the evil memories of these polluting machines from our public spaces,” Governor Newsom said from the front steps of an unnamed woman’s San Francisco townhome. “The divisiveness these vehicles have created is simply not worth the pain while so many enthusiast groups continue to glorify these vehicles beyond their deserved reputations.”
Referring to the long period of postwar vehicular expansion, often consider the “Golden Age of cars,” Governor Newsom’s orders struck at the heart of the world’s epicenter of car enthusiasts.
Rodrigo Garcia, owner of a Fullerton-based car customization shop, was quick to criticize the move.
“The ‘50s and ‘60s can’t just be erased,” Mr. Garcia says. “These cars are part of who we are, an integrated part of our culture. Yes, they’re slower and more polluting than newer cars, but that doesn’t mean I hate my fellow citizens. I also don’t hate safety features. I drive my family around in a 2015 Honda Odyssey!” he added for emphasis. “This is about heritage, not haze!” Garcia concluded, citing the classic car movement’s smog-eschewing rallying cry.
The environmental activist group Los Angeles County Concerned Citizens for Forcing a Better Future on Everyone applauded the governor’s decision, reiterating on its website that it has not been responsible for a rash of recent vandalism of classic car displays around the Los Angeles metro area.
Multiple incidents of arson and theft are still under investigation, with several law enforcement agencies linking the activities to the militant walking and unicyclist group Anti-Car, or Antica if you’re into that whole brevity thing.
As air quality has improved around the country and the world in recent years, many collectors have ironically doubled-down on love their heavy, slow, old, dangerous, and dirty vehicles.
“I know we all breathe the same air,” according to Mike Davis, organizer of Orange County Cars & Pepsi gathering. “But as a wealthy retiree, I don’t have much longer left, so I’m going to enjoy it!” Mr. Davis is the proud owner of seven classic vehicles with a total of one catalytic converter among them, which he plans to remove soon. He added “If you don’t like my cars’ exhaust, just don’t drive behind me.”
For his part, Governor Newsom is unfazed by critics. “This is a time for us all to unite behind a cleaner future, one where all memories of past developments, mistakes, infidelity, and inconsistencies can be completely ignored. We are all who we are today just because, and that’s that.”
The ban will not include private collections, according to attorneys for celebrity car enthusiast Jay Leno. Mr. Leno was admitted to Cedars Sinai hospital shortly after the announcement due to a minor heart attack, coincidentally sharing a room with comedian Jerry Seinfeld who had been admitted just a few minutes prior.