For many vehicle enthusiasts throughout America, building, maintaining, and enjoying their vehicles is a favorite pastime. The SEMA-model legislation represents an opportunity to acknowledge their commitment to the hobby and to protect it for future generations. As market trends come and go it seems the street rod and custom car segment remains a consistently "hot" segment of the automotive aftermarket. Participants on both sides of the counter are driven by passion and enthusiasm. After all, what could be better than going for a cruise in a shiny deuce coupe on a Saturday morning? To the citizens who the street rod and custom bill would most benefit, not much.
However, beloved street rods and customs (including kit cars and replicas) have long struggled to find their place in the law. Almost all states have processes through which antiques can be registered, but fewer provide adequately for modified cars. Hobbyists attempting to title and register vehicles that they have built from the ground up must often find loopholes in their state's code to get it out on the road. The steps can be so time-consuming and confusing that many throw in the towel.
Summary of the SEMA Street Rod Custom Vehicle Bill
Defines a street rod as an altered vehicle manufactured before 1949 and a custom vehicle as an altered vehicle manufactured after 1948. Provides specific registration classes and license plates for street rods and custom vehicles. Provides that replica vehicles and kit cars will be assigned the same model-year designations as the production vehicles they most closely resemble and allows the use of non-original materials. Exempts street rods and custom vehicles from periodic vehicle inspections and emissions inspections. Provides 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. Exempts street rods and custom vehicles from a range of standard equipment requirements.
Most scrappage programs allow "smokestack" industries to avoid reducing their own emissions by buying pollution credits generated through destroying older vehicles. These programs accelerate the normal retirement of vehicles through the purchase of older cars, which are then typically crushed into blocks of scrap metal. Hobbyists suffer from the indiscriminate destruction of older cars, trucks, and parts. America safeguards its artistic and architectural heritage against indiscriminate destruction, and our automotive and industrial heritage deserves the same protection.
While some legislation designed to spur sales of new and used automobiles is positive, such as vouchers toward the purchase of a new or used cars or tax credits to help upgrade, repair, or maintain older vehicles, scrappage provisions are not. Scrappage programs focus on vehicle age rather than actual emissions produced. This approach is based on the erroneous assumption that all "old cars are dirty cars". However, the true culprits are "gross polluters"-vehicles of any model year that are poorly maintained. Scrappage programs ignore better options like vehicle maintenance, repair, and upgrade programs that maximize the emissions systems of existing vehicles. In the past year, scrappage initiatives have been defeated in California, North Carolina, and Washington.
Through SAN, enthusiasts played a vital role in altering federal scrappage legislation in 2009 when an amendment was worked into the "Cash for Clunkers" program to spare vehicles 25 years and older from the scrappage heap and expand parts recycling opportunities. This provision helped safeguard older vehicles, which are irreplaceable to hobbyists as a source of restoration parts.