Chicago Auto Show Blog

Right or rude?

Posted by: Mark Bilek

With the arrival of unseasonably warm weather comes an early hint of spring. After months of being cooped in our domiciles, Chicagoans finally have the chance to stretch our legs, utilize the nation's greatest lakefront, and engage in the strange drinking game we call 16-inch softball.

The warm temperatures also signaled the start of the motorcycle and classic-car season. While this is generally a good thing, there are some drawbacks. At risk of drawing the ire of cyclists and hot-rodders alike, I suggest that Governor Quinn and Illinois' finest look to make up our gaping budget deficit by ticketing un-muffled and illegal vehicle exhaust systems.

  • Exhibit A. Cruising Lake Shore Drive on a warm spring day, windows down, listening to DMB or some other suitably jam-friendly band, I was interrupted by the constant blap-blap-blap of a Harley with straight pipes running off my starboard bow. I hate to be an eco-curmudgeon, but it totally ruined the moment--not to mention the fact that it was completely illegal.
  • Exhibit B. Teaching a group of Call-of-Duty-generation 10-year-olds the fundamentals of hitting a sphere with a cylindrical tube can be one of the most difficult tasks on Earth. Now, compound that with the staccato rumble of a glasspack '69 Camaro running hot laps through the outfield parking lot and you've entered the outer ring of Dante's seventh circle of hell.

Don't get me wrong. There is a time and a place for everything. Nothing's sweeter than a properly tuned Harley running along the Drive. Same goes for the '69 Camaro. While there's little doubt that the straight pipes emphasize the Harley's V-Twin rumble or that a glasspack silencer enhances the Camaro's V8 vibrato, you have to ask yourself, are they really necessary?

No I say! Not only that, but they are illegal as defined in Section 12-602 of the Illinois Vehicle Code:

"Every motor vehicle driven or operated upon the highways of this State shall at all times be equipped with an adequate muffler or exhaust system in constant operation and properly maintained to prevent any excessive or unusual noise. No such muffler or exhaust system shall be equipped with a cutout, bypass or similar device. No person shall modify the exhaust system of a motor vehicle in a manner which will amplify or increase the noise of such vehicle above that emitted by the muffler originally installed on the vehicle, and such original muffler shall comply with all the requirements of this Section."

And, if there isn't enough revenue to be had by enforcing vehicle-noise regulations, then perhaps the fuzz can look at a few other commonly-ignored vehicle regulations. Namely front window tinting, annoying bright blue-hued headlights, drivers texting while driving . . .

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