SEMA has fought the hard battle, now cars produced more than 25 years ago can be legally replicated.
If you desire something truly special and exotic but can't shell out the money needed for a Bugatti Chiron or similar, a well-engineered and designed replica should do the job. Any number of specialist companies can make your dream come true and, whether you desire a $1.2 million Cobra or a modernized Ferrari 250 GTO, they've got you covered.
A new provision is set to make things easier for small volume manufacturers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has finalized regulations to enact the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act. This will allow companies to start selling replica cars that resemble motoring icons produced at least 25 years ago.
The policy change first became law in 2015 and is great news for the industry. Regulations will allow replica car businesses to create and sell replicas to customers across the USA.
The law allows low-volume carmakers to construct up to 325 replicas a year, subject to federal regulatory oversight. As mentioned, the cars can only resemble production vehicles produced at least 25 years ago. For most enthusiasts, that shouldn't be an issue, as pre-1997, there were a ton of cool cars around.
The regulations are a game-changer for smaller companies. Before this, the US had one system for regulating vehicles, geared toward larger companies that mass-produce large quantities of vehicles. The new guidelines take the challenges facing specialist manufacturers into account.
"Regulatory barriers have previously prevented small automakers from producing heritage cars that are coveted by consumers. The roadblocks have been eliminated," said SEMA's Daniel Ingber. "This is a hard-fought victory for enthusiasts, small volume manufacturers, their suppliers, and all the men and women who will be hired to fill new jobs created by this law."
But there are still rules to be adhered to. Vehicles must still meet emissions standards, with the EPA issuing further guidelines for fitting engines to replicas from other EPA-certified vehicles. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has also introduced similar requirements. Before selling vehicles, low volume car manufacturers need to register with the NHTSA and the aforementioned environmental agencies.
SEMA notes this process may take several months and, following approval, companies need to submit yearly production reports. We're sure the specialist companies littered across the country won't mind extra admin if it means they can start selling replicas across the US. So, what's it going to be? A "new" DeLorean DMC-12 or a box-fresh first-generation Ford Bronco? Whatever your choice may be, we're just happy enthusiasts finally have the option.