Days of assembling a kit car yourself are over (unless you just enjoy that part.) Thanks to a new federal highway bill signed into law, low-volume companies can offer turn-key replicas with no further assembly required. That’s because, and this is a biggie, they no longer have to meet government crash test safety standards.
Here’s what the provision in the new federal highway bill does. It allows small-volume manufacturers to legally sell up to 325 replica cars a year. And as long as they stick to 325 cars or less, they won’t have to meet NHTSA crash tests.
This is completely different from what’s happening now. Under current laws, replicas must meet the same crash test safety standards as mass market automakers, which is too expensive a task for low-volume builders. So that’s why replica companies sell their products as kits that buyers must assemble themselves.
As for other rules, the replicas must be based on licensed models that are at least 25 years old. The vehicles will have to meet component-level safety rules and current-model emissions standards. Companies are permitted to install engines from other EPA-certified vehicles to help achieve that requirement. At the moment, General Motors makes the only engine that meets the requirements.
Manufacturers will have to register with both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Plus, they’ll need to submit annual reports on the vehicles they produce.
Photo Credit: SEMA