Car hobbyists and related businesses scored a major victory when SEMA model legislation to create titling and registration classes for street rods and custom vehicles was enacted into law in Rhode Island and Missouri. The bill was previously enacted in Illinois in 2002. This new law provides for special license plates and exempts rods and customs from periodic inspections and emissions tests. It also allows for the use of non-original materials and creates a titling criterion that assigns these vehicles the same model year designation as the production vehicle it most closely resembles. The Missouri measure also exempts all vehicles 26-years old and older from emissions inspections. The 26-year rolling emissions test exemption will replace current law which only exempts vehicles manufactured prior to the 1971 model year.
The Rhode Island and Missouri laws stipulate that 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 is the product of months of consultation with the Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA), local police departments, regulators and the local hobbyist community.
“We are extremely gratified that Rhode Island and Missouri will join the list of states that recognize street rods and customs as distinct classes of vehicles,” said SEMA Vice President, Government Affairs Steve McDonald. “The new laws offer the added benefit of also including qualifying replicas and kit cars in these specialty vehicle titling and registration classifications.”
Two years ago, the HRIA, a SEMA Council, voted to expand its market scope to include custom vehicles, also known as street-modified vehicles. This action allows this segment of the car hobby a strong united voice and a SEMA council in which their specific needs can be addressed. Street-modified vehicles are, by definition, at least 25-years old but manufactured after 1948 or vehicles built to resemble one from that era. The SEMA model legislation was drafted to reflect HRIA’s expanded scope.
“The model bill will continue to be pushed by SEMA in states that either don’t have registration classifications for these vehicles or have laws that are lacking in some way,” said McDonald. “Efforts are ongoing this year to work with the state legislature in New York on this initiative and we hope to add others to that list in the coming legislative sessions.” The New York bill was passed by the State Senate Transportation Committee in June and is currently waiting for a vote by the full body.