Replica Cars - New Federal Law Provides More Choices for Manufacturers and Customers


This webpage provides an overview of the new replica car law. It will be periodically updated over the next year as SEMA works with federal regulators to implement the program rules. 

Background: On Dec. 4, 2015, lawmakers in Washington, DC enacted legislation allowing low volume manufacturers of replica cars to sell turn-key cars to their customers. The historic law expands customer options. Enthusiasts can still build custom cars and construct kit cars on their own. Starting in 2017, however, they will also have the option of buying a replica just like any other new car, and drive it off the lot (or from the factory). 


  • Low volume manufacturer: a motor vehicle manufacturer whose annual worldwide production (including by a parent or subsidiary of the manufacturer) is not more than 5,000 motor vehicles each year.  The company can sell up to 325 replica vehicles in the U.S. each year, with no limit on the number of incomplete kit cars that can be sold.
  • A replica vehicle is a vehicle that resembles the body of another motor vehicle produced at least 25 years ago (’32 Roadster, ’65 Cobra, etc.).

Breakthrough: After nearly six decades, the law establishes a separate way to oversee low volume manufacturers who, until now, were subject to a one-size-fits-all regulatory framework intended for companies that mass-produce millions of cars. Lawmakers understood that a car produced in 1931 is different than a 2015 vehicle, and therefore adopted the kit car approach that treats the car as automobile equipment. The law also addresses supply/demand realities – a limited supply of vintage vehicles and a much larger enthusiast base. The law will spur job creation and help preserve America’s automotive heritage in the United States and abroad. 

Status: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had one year (until Dec. 4, 2016) to issue any necessary regulatory documents for implementing the program. The agencies missed the deadline. NHTSA is pursuing a rulemaking (proposed and final rule) and the EPA intends to issue an industry guidance document. Once the program is in place work, the agencies will have 90 days to process applications from low volume manufacturers that intend to start selling replica cars. SEMA is seeking implementation of the program by the second half of 2017, if not sooner.

If you have questions or want to add your company to the e-mail list to directly receive periodic updates, contact Stuart Gosswein at

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