Vintage car enthusiasts in the United States could be even more outraged than the new car industry, over a proposed 25 percent tariff on imported autos and auto parts.
“Increasing the import duty would cause an incredible hardship,” said a man who described himself as a 71-year-old car collector and restorer in California. “We would not be able to afford our hobby.”
Anybody who’s been around vintage-car collectors and restorers knows they carry photos of their latest project around in their wallets and on their smartphones, alongside photos of their grandchildren.
The tariff threat has deeply offended this group, judging by written comments submitted in advance of two days of hearings on the proposed tariff, which kick off today in Washington. The collectors are worried their hobby would suffer collateral damage in the tariff fight.
The U.S. Commerce Department is seeking to justify the tariff on the grounds that auto imports are a threat to national security. It is not an idle threat. The Trump Administration used the same reasoning to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.
“The importation of vintage vehicles and associated parts poses no threat to National Security, and the imposition of the proposed tariffs would only serve to harm American businesses and individuals,” said Mark Hyman, the owner of Hyman LTD Classic Cars.
Based in St. Louis, the company is one of the largest vintage automobile dealers in the United States, Hyman said in a written comment.
Besides raising the cost of importing entire vintage cars, a tariff would also raise the cost of imported parts. That’s critical for the vintage-car group because U.S. companies long ago quit making many of the parts needed to restore older, U.S.-built cars. Imports are the only source, the collectors said.
Predictably, global corporations, foreign governments, and trade associations representing auto parts manufacturers, auto dealers and other businesses with skin in the game submitted weighty objections to the tariffs.
But among more than 2,000 public comments submitted before the hearings, vintage-car enthusiasts are surprisingly well represented.