Although licensing requirements for kit cars and replica roadsters can vary somewhat by state, American drivers tend to have a much easier time putting their upgraded chassis on the road. With the rise of authentic replication car kits designed to pay homage to the era of the muscle car, some drivers may find that they need to retain manufacturer’s certificates of origin as well as receipts for purchase of body panels and other kit parts.
In general, when a factory-produced chassis is upgraded with a certified and licensed car kit, local motor vehicle offices can test and register it in a more timely fashion. When car repair enthusiasts utilize a custom chassis, however, the licensing process can be a bit more time-consuming. Not only do owners have to pass a more stringent certification process, but experts report that laws can vary extensively by state.
While for some classic muscle car enthusiasts, the allure of authentic replication makes more financial sense than spending decades number-matching classic parts, the process of certification for custom-built roadsters can be complex. Local emissions laws can vary between states, but also within states; in one state, replica race cars had insufficient clearance to pass local tests, a situation that has since been resolved.
Licensing and certification difficulties with registering classic cars, car kits, and dedicated authentic replication roadsters can “slow-track” custom vehicle owners who want to enter contests or simply get their vehicles on the road. Recently, some historically tough states have relaxed emissions regulations slightly but still issue a limited number of kit car licenses every year.
The market for custom roadster production remains strong across the United States, and digital marketing of upgrade parts, replica kits, and custom roadster panels has allowed artists specializing in custom paint jobs to have their handiwork seen on highways and at car shows in every state. As the demand for classic cars continues to rise and as limited-edition originals migrate into collectors’ hands, replica car kit merchants may find themselves facing unprecedented levels of consumer demand.