It's ironic that we can be living in what's arguably the golden age of performance and horsepower with a far larger aftermarket industry with more technology and resources than ever before, and access to multiple daily driveable 500-plus horsepower muscle cars right off the showroom floor with engine technology and potential that makes our favorite small- or big-block engine look positively archaic, and yet be under the constant scrutiny of government regulators.

But that's nothing new, right? You've heard that same old thing year after year; the stuffed shirts want to take away your speed parts and good gas, and the Prius drivers don't understand you and hate your loud, smelly old car. Who cares? That stuff is usually only a problem for guys in California. Right? Not necessarily.

It's important to remember that as big as the hot rodding world seems (and it is, nearly $700 million in retail sales by some estimates), we're still the minority in relation to the general populace. Here's our favorite way to relate it: Drive around for a week and count how many vintage cars you see versus those 10 years old or less-car shows excluded of course. Small percentage, isn't it?

And that's just relating it to America, where hot rodding was born and is more widespread than anywhere else in the world. When you spread our numbers out among the rest of the global population, it becomes easy to see why our rights aren't always considered-we're not even on most people's radar.

Because of this, the hobby itself is often poorly grasped and downright misunderstood by many. While we consider hot rods and custom cars to be a unique art form-a self-expression formed in steel-most everybody else considers a car an appliance, a machine with a mission of locomotion and nothing more. They can't comprehend why on earth you would want to waste your money modifying factory engineering by adding superfluous parts.

So Why Now?
We're often tucked away in our garages or at a car show or motorsports event separated from the political world, and in many cases it's easy to just shrug off proposed legislation as if it doesn't directly affect your town or what you're wrenching on. Nevertheless, in the face of an evolving world where pollution, waste, energy geopolitics, and efficiency have necessarily moved to the forefront, we have to make sure the fingers are pointed in the right direction.

That's what this issue of PHR is about; an opportunity to bring you up-to-date on the issues and regulations the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) and the SEMA Action Network (SAN) have been addressing on our behalf, and to consider how actions being taken by federal and state lawmakers impact you and the whole hot rodding community. The need for all of us to stay informed and become involved is greater than ever. From emissions, to auto equipment standards, the state and federal governments are making decisions about your current and future car. We have to make sure our rights are represented, or we will surely relinquish them.

Registration & Titling
What exactly are street rods and custom cars, and what are the differences between the two? As SEMA has defined them, the street rods are modified vehicles with body types manufactured prior to 1949. Custom cars may have many of the same modifications as street rods, but there is a key difference; customs are based on vehicles built from 1949 through the present day. Mustangs, Camaros, as well as Shelby Cobra kit cars fall in this category.