Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015
Everybody loves classic cars and trucks. Problem is, the most desirable original models are getting very difficult to find, and even when you do locate the exact vehicle you're looking for, you probably can't afford it. If that describes your situation, we have good news.
On December 7, 2015, President Obama signed into law legislation that will permit low volume car manufacturers to produce turn-key replica vehicles for customers nationwide.
The low volume provision allows small automakers to construct up to 325 such replica cars a year subject to federal regulatory oversight. Replica cars resemble production vehicles manufactured at least 25 years ago.
The measure establishes a separate regulatory structure within the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for replica car manufacturers. The companies are required to register with NHTSA and EPA and submit annual reports on the vehicles they produce. The vehicles are required to meet current model year emissions standards, although companies are permitted to install engines from other EPA-certified vehicles to help achieve that requirement.
"This law gives enthusiasts the opportunity to buy turn-key replica cars while preserving their option to build one from a kit," said SEMA Chairman of the Board Doug Evans. "It recognizes the unique circumstances associated with limited production replica vehicles, such as the '32 Roadster and '65 Cobra, which are primarily used in exhibitions, parades and occasional transportation. With enactment of this new law, kit car companies and SEMA member companies that supply equipment and components can take advantage of this unique opportunity."
"With this new law, Congress has demonstrated that it understands the importance of enabling U.S. companies to produce classic-themed vehicles that are virtually impossible to build under the current one-size-fits-all regulatory framework," said SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting. "This program will create auto sector jobs and meet consumer demand for cars that help preserve our American heritage."
Here's a quick list of vehicle we'd love to see get reintroduced into the American market as replicas.
Citroën first started building its seminal DS model way back in 1955, and over the next 20 years, the French automaker went on to build nearly 1.5 million of the quirky machines.
We're not the only ones who have a hankering for this classically French automobile. According to Wikipedia, The DS placed third in the 1999 Car of the Century competition, and fifth on Automobile Magazine's "100 Coolest Cars" listing in 2005. It was also named the most beautiful car of all time by Classic & Sports Car magazine after a poll of 20 world-renowned car designers, including Giorgetto Giugiaro, Ian Callum, Roy Axe, Paul Bracq, and Leonardo Fioravanti.
Briggs Cunningham C-4RLong before Carroll Shelby decided to bolt a big Ford V8 engine into a small sportscar chassis, Briggs Cunningham paved the way with cars like the C-4R. Cunningham, an American sportsman, used a 331-cubic-inch V8 engine from Chrysler in his eponymous race cars. Although they never achieved the racing victories that Shelby enjoyed, a third-place showing at Le Mans is nothing to sneeze at.
The General Motors EV1 was the first mass-produced electric vehicle from a major automaker. Sadly, there are practically zero of them still on the road. Not because the cars were unreliable, but because GM chose to lease them instead of selling them, and when the leases were over, the automaker famously took them back and... disposed of them.
Suffice it to say, there's plenty of pent-up demand for the EV1 even today, making it ripe for a replica.
Want something ultra fuel-efficient? Willing to give up some creature comforts to achieve that laudable goal? Perhaps an Isetta would be to your liking.
The original Isetta came from a small Italian company called Isetta, but the microcar was perhaps most successful in Germany, where it was made under license by BMW.
Today, the diminutive two-seat, single-door Isetta would make for a compelling replica. At least, compelling for anyone who only wants to get around the city and isn't particularly concerned with safety...
Lotus Elan S1
Interestingly enough, the original Lotus Elan, which featured a steel backbone chassis and fiberglass body, was sold as a kit to be assembled by its owner. The car was later sold fully assembled, and helped cement Lotus as a maker of lightweight, exciting sportscars.
We love the idea of a 1,600-pound roadster powered by a small, high-revving four-cylinder engine.
Yes, you can go out right now and buy a brand-new Mini in any number of interesting configurations. Thing is, today's reborn Mini is almost nothing like the machine it's meant to resemble.
The original Mini was truly tiny and was a marvel of efficiency. So beloved is the old British icon that it was built from 1959 all the way until the year 2000. By the time it was finally taken off the market, well over five million Mini models had been sold.
We'll take our replica in British Racing Green, preferably with a British flag on the roof.
Pontiac Trans Am
Automobile enthusiasts were dealt a huge blow when General Motors closed the doors on the Pontiac brand in 2010. By that time, nearly all of Pontiac's vehicles were mere rebadges of other existing models from General Motors, including the Firebird and Trans Am.
Still, anyone with even a passing interesting in automobiles knows a classic black-and-gold Pontiac Trans Am when they see one – or, better yet, hear it rumble past through its dual exhausts. In the late 1970s, there wasn't much of anything sold in America that could outrun a Bandit T/A; by now, Burt Reynolds' favorite vehicle is a true automotive icon.
Really, you could make a case that just about any vintage British roadster could make for a successful replica. For our purposes, we've singled out the Triumph TR3.
It's got a classic name, stellar looks and enough performance to keep car buffs coming back for more. Plus, those headlights make it stand out in a sea of more mundane MGs still seen on today's roads.
There have been a number of failed automotive ventures in the annals of history, but few are as memorable as Preston Tucker's. The Tucker 48 was truly revolutionary for its time, with a rear-engine design, pop-out safety windshield and third headlight that turned with the steering wheel.
Unfortunately, Preston Tucker and his car company were unfairly targeted by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Although all charges against Tucker were eventually dropped, the damage had been done and just 50 vehicles were completed.
Today, Tucker 48 sedans almost never go up for sale, and when they do, they command several million dollars. Perhaps a replica is in order?