Low-volume manufacturers that produce replicas of classic cars can finally look forward to building complete running cars thanks to new regulations, the SEMA Action Network reports. This freedom has been a long time coming.
Companies that build small numbers of replicars will be getting what they have long asked NHTSA for: permission to build turn-key replicas and kit cars that resemble vehicles produced at least 25 years ago.
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards prohibit manufacturers from producing vehicles that do not meet safety standards or have non-compliant safety equipment. Normally, this means that if you want to produce a complete car in the U.S., the cars have to be crash-tested and meet safety requirements. That’s no problem if you are Toyota, but it’s a huge problem if you’re a smaller outfit like the current owner of DeLorean.
To get around some of these rules, manufacturers can apply for an exemption. Saleen did this with the S7, which is why that car doesn’t have airbags. However, manufacturers still wanted an easier way to produce low-volume cars without being subjected to the same rules as major automakers. Without that exception, kit car and replica manufacturers could only build rolling chassis of classics, which the buyer would then complete.
In 2015 the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act was passed. Under the law, makers of low-volume and replica cars would be exempt from most safety and emissions requirements and would be free to build complete vehicles. Unfortunately, it would take NHTSA, EPA and CARB over five years to complete the rules governing the production.
The new law allows kit cars and replicas to be produced so long as they resemble a vehicle that is at least 25 years old. Manufacturers are limited to 5,000 vehicles a year to qualify as low volume. The completed replica vehicles also have to meet current emissions standards.
This is great news for DeLorean, as the company plans to build modernized versions of the DMC-12. It could also open the door for a lot more interesting replicas as well. Perhaps a turn-key Beck Speedster?
Of course those who wish to have that full kit-car experience can still complete the vehicles on their own. These new regulations go live when they get posted to the Federal Register.