Arkansas joined the growing list of states to enact SEMA model legislation to amend the vehicle titling and registration classification for street rods and create a classification for custom vehicles.. The bill was approved by the Arkansas State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Mike Beebe. Under the new law, a street rod is defined as an altered vehicle manufactured before 1949 and a custom as an altered vehicle at least 25 years old and manufactured after 1948. Importantly, kit cars and replica vehicles will be assigned a certificate of title bearing the same model year designation as the production vehicle they most closely resemble. Arkansas joins Virginia, Washington, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Missouri, Montana and Rhode Island as states that have enacted similar bills into law.
The new law allows for the use of non-original materials, provides for special license plates and permits the use of blue dot taillights. In addition, the measure exempts street rods and customs from a range of standard equipment requirements and emissions controls (only that equipment required in the model year that the vehicle resembles). Vehicles titled and registered as street rods and custom vehicles may only be used for occasional transportation, exhibitions, club activities, parades, tours, etc. and not for general daily transportation.
“The new law recognizes the unique nature of these vehicles as hobbyist cars,” said SEMA Vice President, Government Affairs Steve McDonald. “For many vehicle enthusiasts in Arkansas and throughout America, building, maintaining and enjoying their vehicles is a favorite pastime. This law represents an opportunity to acknowledge their commitment to the hobby and to protect it for future generations.”
The new law is the product of months of consultation with state legislators, regulators and the local hobbyist and business community. Arkansas State Representative Johnny Key, the bill’s sponsor, remarked, “It’s been great working with SEMA and its member businesses in our state. We’ve managed to craft and pass a piece of legislation that inserts common sense into titling and registration for customs and street rods to the benefit of the hobbyist community statewide”
“Backed by the hard work and perseverance of Representative Key, we are extremely gratified that Arkansas has joined the list of states that recognize street rods and customs as distinct classes of vehicles,” McDonald added. “The new law offers the benefit of also including qualifying replicas and kit cars in these specialty vehicle titling and registration classifications.”
The model bill will continue to be pursued by SEMA Action Network (SAN) in states that either don’t have registration classifications for these vehicles or have laws that are lacking in some way. SAN efforts are ongoing this year to work with the state legislatures in Florida, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Nevada on this initiative and to add others to that list in the coming legislative sessions.