Unocal oil company saves world from unsightly jalopies

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Nov 01, 1990

RAY: Talk about good ideas!

TOM: What? You going to keep quiet this week?

RAY: No, listen to what the Unocal oil company is doing in California. They're crushing thousands of old jalopies.

TOM: That's terrible! Someone call the police. Tell them to keep an eye on my car! They'll never get it away from me. They'll have to crush me with it! Why are they doing this??

RAY: They're doing it to reduce pollution, dummy. Have you ever seem the smog in southern California? It looks like the living room after Aunt Lucille smokes one of those fat Cuban cigars she likes.

TOM: Oh, Right. I went to a drive-through fast food restaurant in LA once, and I got lost between the place you order and the place you pick up the hamburger!.

RAY: Well, you get lost backing out of your own driveway, but that's another issue. Anyway, Unocal thought a cheap way to get rid of some of that smog was to get some of these old heaps off the road. So they offered to pay 700 dollars for every pre-1971 junker offered up for the crusher.

TOM: Wait. You mean they'll give me 700 dollars for every one of my cars?

RAY: Calm down, Exhaust Breath. They ran out of money after they crushed the first 8,400 cars. So don't spend the money just yet.

TOM: 8400 cars? That's all?? What good does that do in a state the size of California? That's just a drop in the rust bucket!

RAY: It is and it isn't. As it turns out, most cars of that vintage produce 40 to 50 times as much pollution as new cars.

TOM: Hmm. So if my math is correct, taking 8,400 old cars off the road is the emissions equivalent of taking 300,000-400,000 new cars off the road. Gee! Maybe I'll get mine crushed one of these days.

RAY: I don't know if yours will count. I don't think they consider it "crushing" when all you'd have to do is step on it.

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