In the wake of the 2008 recession, America launched a Car Allowance Rebate Scheme (unofficially known as Cash For Clunkers). A similar idea to the UK’s scrappage scheme, Cash For Clunkers offered car buyers incentives if they traded in their old cars for new ones. It aimed to kickstart a reeling US auto economy and take gas guzzling old cars off the road.
The only stipulations in the scheme were that the cars had to be less than 25 years old, they had to be driveable, and they had to return 18mpg (US) or worse. The new car had to be registered and insured for at least a year. Nearly 700,000 cars got scrapped and, thanks to The Drive and CARS.gov, the full list is available to read.
Of course, there are a ton of cars on the list that are no great loss to society. Lots of ‘90s Cadillacs met their end, as did thousands of Chevrolet Astro vans and Blazers. Just shy of 24,000 late ‘90s Chrysler Voyager models (and the Dodge and Plymouth equivalents) were scrapped, plus 20,000 Ford F-150 pickups.
The scheme came out in 2009, and a handful of cars were just a year old when they were scrapped. Even an ‘08 Mustang and a Saab 9-3 Aero got turned into tin cans. Hundreds of other cars were just a few years old.
But it’s even more sad to see that five late ‘80s Toyota Supras were scrapped, alongside 23 Alfa Romeo 164s, a 1997 Aston Martin DB7 Volante, 13 Audi S4s, two Audi Quattros and a couple of hundred Mazda RX-7s.
These scrappage-style schemes may be returning as another recession is seemingly on the horizon, but the Cash For Clunkers programme didn’t actually improve emissions and air quality. The average fuel economy for replacement vehicles was nearly 25mpg, compared to 15.8mpg of the cars scrapped, but record US car sales in the following years negated its impact.