Massachusetts Street Rod and Custom Vehicle Law Nears Critical Deadline


In 2010, Massachusetts enacted into law a version of SEMA model legislation to create a vehicle registration classification for street rods, custom vehicles, replicas and specially constructed vehicles.   The law defines a street rod as an altered vehicle manufactured before 1949 and a custom as an altered vehicle at least 25 years old and manufactured after 1948.  Replica vehicles are defined as being assembled by a non-manufacturer from new or used parts that replicate an earlier year, make and model vehicle.  Specially constructed vehicles are those reconstructed or assembled by a non-manufacturer from new or used parts that have an exterior that does not replicate or resemble any other manufactured vehicle.  The bill allows replica vehicles to be assigned a certificate of title bearing both the year in which the vehicle was built and the make, model and year of the vehicle intended to be replicated.   
The law also provides that specially constructed and replica vehicles which are registered on or before April 30, 2012 are completely exempt from emissions inspection requirements.  However, specially constructed and replica vehicles registered after April 30, 2012 are  subject to emission control requirements based on the model year and configuration of the engine installed, whether the engine is an original equipment manufacturer’s production engine, rebuilt engine or crate engine.   Under the law, if the model year of the engine installed in the specially constructed or replica vehicle requires an onboard diagnostic (OBD) system, the vehicle would be subject to an OBD system emissions test applicable to the certified configuration, including any exclusions or exemptions otherwise granted to that certified configuration.  To follow is a link to the applicable section of the law:

These concessions were necessary to receive the approval of the state regulators charged with overseeing the program.  Many of you will recall that a previous version of the law without these concessions was vetoed by the governor.

Questions or comments should be directed to Steve McDonald at

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