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Car and Driver: Reason Prevails: New Replica Cars Don’t Have to Follow U.S. Safety Laws

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Replica automakers that sell fully assembled cars no longer have to abide by federal safety standards, according to a section in the 490-page highway bill that passed this month.



Replicas and restomods—such as those built by Singer and Icon—are officially exempt from costly certification standards relating to crash tests, child-seat anchors, and all the other requirements laid out in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) that have regulated all production cars since the 1960s. Previously, this was a somewhat gray area, as kit builders (such as Local Motors) never needed to meet requirements since they did not officially assemble the vehicles. Other companies acting as tuners and using a donor car’s VIN—despite a complete mechanical and cosmetic overhaul that would otherwise make it a new vehicle—can now fabricate their own cars from scratch so long as they represent a licensed design that’s at least 25 years old. The law allows each manufacturer to sell 325 replicas each year.


But while airbags, crumple zones, and other modern technologies don’t have to be on board, a brand-new EPA-certified engine must be under the hood (no old flat-sixes or other polluting nonsense, says Uncle Sam). Also, buyers must be notified of the safety exemptions, and various labels need to be affixed to the door jams, etc. The laws apply to any low-volume manufacturer that produces fewer than 5000 cars worldwide each year.


So, technically, after Ferrari separates from Fiat-Chrysler, we could see brand-new GTOs and Dinos that don’t have to give a damn about the rule book. Watering down resale values and the provenance of its most prized cars might not be something Ferrari wants to do, but this sort of dream is finally, legally possible.


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