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Thread: Politically incorrect car parts

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Politically incorrect car parts

    Do you remember the catalytic converter "test pipe"?

    Back in the early '80s, you could buy one of these things at just about any auto parts store - openly and brazenly.

    The "test pipe" was a section of hollow exhaust tubing designed to bolt in place of your car's catalytic converter - nominally, so you could "test" the converter (no one knows how) by driving the car without the converter installed. Of course, everyone knew that the "test" would be very long term, indeed - and that the catalytic converter would be tossed directly into the nearest dumpster.

    Today, of course, test pipes are no longer available. In fact, they are as illegal as armor-piercing bullets.

    I wish I'd kept one as a historical artifact of a looser time that's now long gone.

    Here's another one - though it's not a part, per se.

    Subaru used to sell something called the Brat. It was a spunky little thing; a kind of half-car, half pick-up. But its key feature was a pair of rear-facing jumpseats bolted to the floor of the bed out back. Grab handles on either side, but no seat belts.

    Can you imagine?

    They got away with it, too. As far as I know, there were no lawsuits, no massive recalls. People were allowed to have fun - and trusted to use common sense.

    It's not like that anymore, of course.

    Safety suffocation is the order of the day. We must be protected against any and all risks, no matter how remote. Or how expensive the protection. (This is one reason why even today's "economy" cars routinely cost as much as yesterday's luxury cars.)

    How about floor mounted dimmer switches? We can't have those anymore, either. Another example of a simple, functional way of doing things made impossible - illegal - by the Safety State. Now we have these vile multi-function stalks. You (try) to hit the high beams - but the wipers come on instead. You have to take one hand off the wheel, too. Brilliant. But "safe." Or, so we're told.

    Here's a personal favorite: Cans of Freon air conditioning refrigerant. Concern about the ozone layer (in reality, DuPont's concern about its expiring patents) forced the entire industry to change over to a new, more expensive and less efficient refrigerant in the mid-'90s . But the new stuff - R134a - did have one charm. DuPont held a brand-new patent. This stuff you can buy anywhere. But Freon is as hard to find today and just as expensive as Old School Coke - you know, the stuff that's made with sugar, not high fructose corn syrup.

    I also miss steering wheels.

    Or rather, when steering wheels were one of the most distinctive styling centerpieces of new cars. Now they all look the same - thanks to air bags, courtesy of safety nags.

    Big blobs with a rim around it. Ugly as hell. But safe.

    I'll take stylish and not-so-safe. I love looking at the spoked Formula steering wheel in my '70s-era Trans-Am. Nothing else looks like it. Along with the famous engine-turned (prisma) dash facing, the Formula steering wheel defined the mid-70s Trans-Am. Other cars of the era were similarly distinctive.

    Even better, if you didn't like the steering wheel the car came with, you could easily replace it with an aftermarket wheel more to your liking. No one sells aftermarket steering wheels anymore - at least, not for any car that's been made in the last 20-plus years. You're stuck with what it came with.

    And if the bag should "deploy" in a fender bender, you'll be stuck with a $2,000 bill to replace the damn thing - which may be more than the car itself is worth.

    But that's the price of safety, eh?

  2. #2
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    I miss the old steering wheels as well.

    I remember when the earth day BS was going on and they were talking about the Ozone hole. I almost did a press release on a counter demonstration for Earth Day when we would open a can of freon and let it escape into the atmosphere.

    Unlike R12, the R134a refrigerant is extremely toxic and can cause death if inhaled in even small concentrations. It's written on the can. I am surprised that we can still buy it without a license. You can bet the Demoncats are plotting to tighten that one as well.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat View Post
    I miss the old steering wheels as well.

    I remember when the earth day BS was going on and they were talking about the Ozone hole. I almost did a press release on a counter demonstration for Earth Day when we would open a can of freon and let it escape into the atmosphere.

    Unlike R12, the R134a refrigerant is extremely toxic and can cause death if inhaled in even small concentrations. It's written on the can. I am surprised that we can still buy it without a license. You can bet the Demoncats are plotting to tighten that one as well.
    I did not realize it was that toxic - but I am not surprised.

    I did a lot of writing on the subject back in the early-mid '90s and even spoke with someone at DuPont about the patent issue. The whole thing was a giant con; a "bait and switch" very similar to the New Coke scam (via which Coca Cola subbed in corn syrup to replace sugar).

    Freon loss from automotive AC systems was minuscule and had zero effect on ozone depletion. There was some basis for concern with regard to the use of Freon as a "bath" in the tech sector - but that was an industrial use/issue and could have been dealt with separately.

    The powers that be, however, wanted Freon gone because it was about to go "generic" - and their profit margin was going to be much reduced.

    Guess who holds the exclusive rights to R134a?
    Last edited by Eric; 01-25-2009 at 07:19 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Mase's Avatar
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    I also miss steering wheels.

    Or rather, when steering wheels were one of the most distinctive styling centerpieces of new cars. Now they all look the same - thanks to air bags, courtesy of safety nags. >>


    I like THIS wheel.

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    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Dupont also outlawed hemp. Hemp itself isn't anything special. However, Randolph Hearst was a long time friend of the DuPont family. He was also a major investor in their company. When they developed Nylon and Rayon, Hemp was a competitor. It was better for some uses than the synthetic product. For that reason, the Hearst papers ran article after article on "Killer Weed" and "Reefer Madness". Movies and news reels followed. Eventually, hemp was outlawed because it was hard to tell from marijuana. Then, in WW2, all of a sudden, we needed hawsers for ships to go to war. Farmers were encouraged to grow hemp again. Once the war was over, hemp was bad again.

    I used to hear about marijuana was a gateway drug. Yes, it is. The same way alcohol was a gateway drug during prohibition. If you wanted some, you went to a criminal. Other things were available too. The same goes for pot now. It's illegal so you go to a criminal to get it. He doesn't care. The same way a robber with a gun isn't worried about gun laws.

    There's also too much money to be made by keeping it illegal. If you're wondering, no I don't use pot. I don't drink either. I don't use intoxicants of any kind.
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