Old May Become New Again

Legislation Introduced To Recreate Classic Vehicles


If you’ve ever wanted to own a 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 Competition roadster, but don’t have $1.9 million lying around (the current cost per Hagerty’s Classic Car Price Guide), you could be in luck. A new bill was introduced that would allow companies across the United States to manufacture turnkey replica cars from kits. This could be a huge win for collectors that don’t have the time or expertise to build their own car. A complete kit for the 1965 Shelby Cobra costs around $12,000 - $20,000, for example.

U.S. Reps. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) and Gene Green (D-TX) have introduced the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015 (H.R. 2675). It protects low volume car manufacturers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) one-size-fits-all method for regulating automakers. The law would only apply to companies that manufacture “replica” cars, which are vehicles that resemble a car produced over 25 years ago.

“The current law does not take into account the unique challenges that small auto manufacturers face when it comes to recreating historic cars,” said Mullin, a second-term lawmaker. “We can’t expect these companies to be able to comply with a law that was established in the 1960s for automakers that mass-produce millions of vehicles every year. We need to encourage growth in our manufacturing market, not create unnecessary barriers.”

Under current law, replica cars on the market are sold as “kit cars,” which requires the hobbyist to install the engine of the vehicle. There have been approximately 16,000 kit cars sold in the United States over the past 20 years, but it is estimated that H.R. 2675 would spur initial sales of up to 500 additional kit cars per year completed by low volume manufacturers rather than hobbyists.

“While the market for these vehicles has been historically small, the enthusiasm hobbyists have for these cars shouldn’t be stymied by regulations that are clearly designed for large scale manufacturers.” Green said. “This bill will improve the current practice of selling ‘kit cars,’ bringing the engines installed into the 21st century by requiring them to meet current year Clean Air Act standards along with maintaining an onboard diagnostic system. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the committee as the bill goes forward.”

Currently, the United States does not have a separate process for certifying automobiles produced in limited numbers. The system is only designed to regulate companies that mass-produce millions of vehicles, which has resulted in an unnecessarily restricted “one-size-fits-all” marketplace. The legislation creates an alternative regulatory program for American companies that acknowledges the unique circumstances associated with limited production custom vehicles.

Under H.R. 2675, the replica cars would meet current emissions standards, and The Clean Air Act would be adjusted to require the low volume manufacturers to install engines from a current model year vehicle along with an on-board diagnostics system (OBD system). The companies producing the cars would also be required to register with NHTSA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as file annual reports and be subject to oversight by the agencies.

H.R. 2675 has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, of which Mullin and Green are both members. The SEMA Action Network (SAN) has also worked with Mullin and Green on this bill. 

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The Locator Magazine February 2020
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