By on December 9, 2015

Photo credit: Factory Five Racing/Facebook

For decades, enthusiasts came to dread new motor vehicle laws, as they typically conspire against the use of motor vehicles for fun. Post-Nader safety regulations that made cars heavier and less nimble came first. Emissions laws came a few years later, which strangled the previously-unrestricted engines into submission. The death of leaded fuel helped many of those old dinosaurs meet their untimely end.

For once, however, a massive new bill has actually lifted some restrictions. The Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015 (as we covered in June) was passed last week as part of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015.

DeLorean DMC-12

Basically, the law allows small-volume replica car builders to offer turn-key cars (rather than kits in roller form) without meeting the most stringent of safety laws. However, there won’t be any coal-rollin’ from the factory as those turn-key cars will still need to be built with EPA-compliant engines.

ICON 4x4 Bronco

What this means for us: There could easily be new DeLoreans running about soon. This opens up ICON to build more Broncos, which will please TTAC’s editor greatly. MGB, Mini, and Sprite body shells have been available for years from British Motor Heritage. Perhaps someone Stateside could begin offering something like the luscious Frontline MG LE 50. Of course, there will be even more Cobras.

Photo credit: Frontline Developments

What obscure relic would the B&B like to see revived? For me, I’d like nothing more than to buy a brand new Citroen DS with a modern powerplant. What say ye?

[Photos: Factory Five RacingICON 4×4, Auctionata, Frontline Developments]

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77 Comments on “Feds Pass Low Volume Law, Turn-key Fun for Everyone...”

  • avatar

    Lancia Fulvia with STi running gear.

  • avatar

    I’d like a brand new BMW 535i of the E28 vintage with the guts of an M235i.

    • 0 avatar

      My own thoughts are similar:

      -E36 sedan body styling
      -chassis is carbon fiber tubes with aluminum nodes
      -engine options are LS376/525, BMW N54 or B58, or Ford Ecoboost 2.3L
      -kinda no-frills interior, but aggressive and driver oriented

      Basically, use Divergent Microfactories’ tech to give us a proper lightweight, modern, yet timelessly attractive RWD sport sedan. At low production levels you can build some pretty cheap cars…no need for airbags, I hope. ^_^

  • avatar

    “The death of unleaded fuel”

    You sure?

  • avatar
    Firestorm 500

    Unleaded fuel is not dead in my area. It is alive and well.

  • avatar

    People WOULD BUY low-volume XJ Cherokees and Grand Wagoneers with modern engines.

  • avatar

    Citroen SM. New engine, but keep the balls.

  • avatar

    Most of the cars I might want, like a Triumph Spitfire or MGA, would be frighteningly tiny in traffic today.

    • 0 avatar

      I know what you mean. The irony is cars used to be bigger, but people lean on crutches like ABS and 5 star crumple zones, and it makes them very uncautious.

      • 0 avatar

        People don’t drive any worse than they used to. Back in the day bad drivers just died.

        • 0 avatar


          And there’s how many more thousand/million drivers and cars on the road? Until the mid-60s it was common in some areas for the wife to not even have a driver’s license (my grandmother is like this), and if there was a car for the oldest kid, it was shared with the other kids. My family has 5 cars for 4 people, and 2 of them are pickups–that was most definitely not the way things were done 30 years ago.

        • 0 avatar

          Darwin at work.

          • 0 avatar

            “Darwin at work.”

            I first took that to mean *something* has to fill the void left by the obsoleting of large-scale ground wars.

            But this would need subsidizing to have sufficient scope.

        • 0 avatar
          White Shadow

          Then logic would dictate that on average, people do drive worse. Why? Well, those bad drivers that survive now are back on the roads instead of being 6 feet under.

    • 0 avatar

      Weren’t they tiny compared to 60s/70s full size Yank tanks?

    • 0 avatar

      I considered buying a Lotus Elan until I saw a picture similar to this:

      I’m not paranoid, but I have my limits.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t care, I still want one!

        • 0 avatar

          Gordon Murray, Harry Metcalf, Jay Leno and Ronnie Schreiber agree, the Elan is in a class by itself. Yes, it’s got all the issues that a mid-1960s Brit car would have (plus iffy electrical grounds because they couldn’t use the fiberglass body), and absolutely nothing in terms of side impact protection, but in terms of dynamics and feel, it’s in a class by itself.

          Also, I don’t think they have any downside in terms of investment value. Think about how much E Type Jaguars are worth and they made about 75,000 of those. There were less than 15,000 Elans made.

      • 0 avatar

        Actually, it wouldn’t be that hard to put the Elan back into limited production. You can still buy replacement frames and body shells. You might have to make some parts like the differential housing and rear hubs, but a lot of the components were off the shelf Ford or Triumph parts.

        A modern-day Elan with a Ford Ecoboost engine, six speed transmission, modern wheels and rubber along with bigger brakes would be big fun.

    • 0 avatar

      I have a Triumph, you drive it like you are on a motorcycle.

      Just assume that at least once a day someone is going to underestimate your closing speed and try to kill you!

    • 0 avatar
      Hamilton Guy

      No Kidding, I installed Hella Supertone horns in my 01 Miata after, twice in one week, cars decided to change lanes while I was beside them and kept coming in spite of my leaning on the horn. They just didn’t see or hear the Miata..too small. Now they hear me!!

  • avatar

    Someone (including Porsche) could go and crash the air cooled 911 market! Brand new ’69-’95 Porsches, could use water cooled flat-6 engines out of a Subaru

  • avatar

    What we need is for them to simplify the process for registering the track cars like the Ariel Atom, KTM X-bow, BAC Mono, etc for street use.

  • avatar

    Great news for the Humvee c-series, it’s stupid that you can buy a brand new civilian Humvee in Czechoslovakia but not in the US where they’re built.

  • avatar

    W111 280SE with a 6.2L M156 AMG V8. Can even label it “6.3” and be no more inaccurate than the factory. I’d sell the grandmother-in-law who asked me “Ain’t yew one uh them Oh-baaah-ma people?” to get it.

  • avatar

    As a motorcycle rider I have to laugh at people crying about how small and unsafe small cars are lol.

    I would happily trade my bike for an Exocet / Factory Five 818C. Man up!

  • avatar

    CJ-2A or 3A. Dumb simple for a kit car co to knock together. The hurdle is that near perfect originals sell for <$20k, not sure how they'd get under that and still make a profit. But, I'm dreaming here, so let me be.

  • avatar

    FD RX7. Stuff whatever new engine fits in there. Please Please Please. A brand new, unmolested, perfect-interior-having FD RX7 would be a dream come true.

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    Actually the smog laws effectively forced the introduction of EFI, which had the unintended consequence of ushering in the efficient high specific power engines that are so prevalent these days. So there are some upsides.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly. While quite detrimental to power in the early days, the push for cleaner engines is directly responsible for today’s powerful engines.

      The turnkey car is awesome. First gen Camaro anyone!

    • 0 avatar

      “Actually the smog laws effectively forced the introduction of EFI, which had the unintended consequence of ushering in the efficient high specific power engines that are so prevalent these days.”

      I think only real innovation wrought by such regs are catalytic converters. Car companies want their vehicles to make more power, be more efficient, and be friendlier to operate without any regulations.
      EFI was going to happen with onset of integrated circuit revolution no matter what.

      Speaking of such regs and modern engine control – and I’m not advocating a return to leaded gas, it is gone for good reason – but one thing I’ve always wondered is how high compression would be in today’s spark engines if we still used leaded gas; I suspect it would be getting Diesel-like in specs, with efficiencies to match.

  • avatar

    For me, the EPA is what really gets in the way of fun. I would prefer a retro with seatbelts, air bags, abs, & traction control.

    • 0 avatar

      How does the EPA ruin the fun? Today’s engines make excellent power and torque, without polluting the air. (Diesels excluded of course.)

      • 0 avatar

        “How does the EPA ruin the fun? Today’s engines make excellent power and torque, without polluting the air.”

        The EPA and its CAFE scheme for mileage has led to some stupid unintended consequences such as companies making eco-boxes for nothing else than accounting purposes, the rise of SUV’s as a way to sell people high-powered family vehicles given the old light-duty truck exemption, and the engineering of cars to hit numbers on contrived government mileage-test specs more than real-world considerations.

        Those are all fun-ruining trends – none of which, I might add, generate any real eco-improvements over just having a simple sliding guzzler tax or some-such. A lot of paperwork, oversight, lobbying, and market-manipulation for nothing.

    • 0 avatar

      You are more than free to buy one.

  • avatar

    I wonder if new Morgans will once again be available in the US?

    It’s my understanding that crash safety is what is keeping them out of the US market now. I expect the Ford and BMW engines they use are already emissions compliant.

  • avatar

    A bugeye sprite with a VTEC engine would be my weapon of choice. You’re basically doubling if not tripling output in what is probably a car small enough to get onto my patio in my apartment.

    Still, 500 units or less is actually going to be an interesting situation for the almost-too-big makes. Should be interesting to see where it goes from here.

  • avatar

    “New” DeLoreans start at $65,500. Ack! You have to really want one of those cars to pass up a new ‘Vette, Cayman, or Hellcat to get drive around in a new 30 year-old car.

    • 0 avatar

      They were slow then. Presumably “new” DeLoreans can’t use the old engines due to emission requirements (for $65.5k they need LSn or Hemi). With the old engines I’d expect them to get passed by the new Prius (even with less hp then the last).

  • avatar

    Hmmmm…. I thought long and hard about this for all of 2 seconds after Ford confirmed the 5.2 Voodoo in the GT350 and that is a GT40.

    Sure you can get the newer cars celebrating Ford’s 100 year mark and the upcoming GT would curb stomp anything cobbled together in the aftermarket but the original car is timeless and the 5.2 in the GT350 would find a worthy home in a well engineered tribute car. Especially one that could be had for a half to a third or less of the projected price for the new GT.

  • avatar

    Get ready for a bunch of fly-by-night turnkey disasters. If they wanted to change something, change the emissions laws so that if your mods result in a car that that passes the test for its year then you’re good. Period.

    • 0 avatar

      A company that produces turnkey disasters because they can’t handle a modern engine will fail because they can’t handle the laws of physics or the needs of business.

      I was going to suggest that just meeting a simple spec (less than x ppm hydrocarbons, y ppm NO2, z ppm CO), but VW certainly proved me wrong. And just what is wrong with a modern LSn drivetrain? That it isn’t a LTn drivetrain?

  • avatar

    An IH Scout – the first version – I haven’t seen one in the wild in years.


  • avatar

    Alpine Tiger

    • 0 avatar

      I was thinking the same thing but it would just feel dirty with anything other than a Ford V8 and while the Coyote would probably have plenty of space between the water pump and radiator You would have to make the engine a stressed member by attaching the front suspension to the engine since it would be hanging out in the wheel wells.

      Now that I think about it though the Coyote does fit fairly well in a fox car, bodies are plentiful (and cheap) and there is a restoration market supporting them parts wise and there are some nice suspension and brake upgrades out plus stuff to make that flexi-flopper chassis a little stronger so yeah 79-93 Mustangs would be cool with 435 hp V8’s that are in aluminum form roughly 70-80 pounds lighter than the iron V8 mill that powered the original fox car.

  • avatar
    formula m

    1969 Chevrolet c/k10 pickup trucks.

  • avatar

    I assume this means Factory built Nobles. That actually excites me.

  • avatar

    Muira w/Accord 6 spd

  • avatar

    Too blitzed yesterday with candidate interviews to dream here but now refreshed by deep CPAP sleep I have three towering choices:

    First gens each of Espace, Previa and Trooper.

    Whatever engine-y things they originally had would be fine. It’s not like I’d stress them.

  • avatar

    1965 Volvo P1800S.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    The obvious example: Nissan can start cranking out Tsuru gliders for all the rusty SE-Rs out there.

  • avatar
    Dirk Stigler

    A 1960 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint, with perhaps a Honda B16 or Ford 1.6

  • avatar

    I’d be up for a ’56 Thunderbird with a new flat plane Shelby drivetrain.

  • avatar

    1967 GT 350 with a 2016 GT350 drivetrain.
    1970 ‘Cuda with the Hellcat drivetrain.
    1967 Z/28 with the LS7.
    Saab Sonnet with the biggest rotary it will take.
    1964 300K convertible with a modern Hemi.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    Hmm….EcoBoost Lancia Stratos?

  • avatar

    Oh boy….

    An earlier Taco with the re22 in it (or a modern 4, just want a small, light truck)

    E28 with a modern inline 6 (strip out the tech, i just want reliable transportation)

    E38 with just better reliability and less running costs

    `65 Connie with better everything except style (mostly NVH concerns)

    22b STI

    Alfa Romeo GTV-6 with a larger driver position (I just dont fit, sadly. I gave away my resto project because of that)

    Alfa Romeo Spider – I cant decide if I want a new 66 or 67 long tail, or a 91 with that sweet 1.75 turbo. hmmmmm

    1989 Civic SI hatchback with a new K series in it, with better NVH.

    FD3S with something. I dont even care if it’s a rotary, just bring that body back!! A New Hope!

    First gen (if they ever launch the second gen) NSX. Bring that body back Revenge of the Reliable!

    `04-06 V70R with GM’s Magnaride, someone else’s electonics and maybe a coyote 5.0 Return of the Moose!

  • avatar

    Can’t quit this game.
    Dino Eco-boost
    240Z with modern BMW MPower
    BMW 2002 with same.
    E type with GT350 flat crank.
    Yes. Thats the one. Might have to go with a dry sump and a larger cowl, but those looks, that sound, so much shove….

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