By on January 22, 2021


Low-volume manufacturers may now sell replicas of cars made at least 25 years ago. At long last, The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has completed regulations to allow specialty car makers to produce and sell completed, turnkey cars.


A bill to reduce the requirements and red tape for manufacturers of vehicles was enacted by Congress in 2015, but it has taken five long years for the regulations to get written that would allow sales to take place. As such, makers can now produce up to 325 replicas a year, keeping in mind current model year emissions compliance, following Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines.


The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) issued the following statement upon completion of the regulations: “SEMA applauds NHTSA’s final rule allowing companies to market classic-themed cars. Regulatory barriers have previously prevented small automakers from producing heritage cars for eager customers. The roadblocks have been eliminated. Companies will be able to hire workers, start making necessary parts and components, and produce and sell cars,” said SEMA President and CEO Christopher J. Kersting.


Until the regulations were enacted, there was only one way to produce cars in the U.S., the same as it was for BMW, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford, General Motors, Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen, and other major automakers. Now, you can buy fully-assembled cars produced by small-volume manufacturers such as Superformance and Factory Five, not only as kit cars. Hooray for the cottage industry car constructors, now let’s see turnkey Cheetahs, Grand Sport Corvettes, and Porsche Speedster replicars.

[Images: Factory Five]

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51 Comments on “Replica Car Sales Ruled Okay...”

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    My wallet is open for someone willing to build me a Hakosuka Skyline replica. And I’m not even slightly joking. If it can be done for significantly less than what a real one is going for, you will have your money.

  • avatar

    Sweet, hopefully the numbers will increase over time. Such low volume will make this mostly unaffordable to the average joe. Make mine a boat tail Riv with hideaway headlights and a new corvette engine.. Or a 64 1/2 Mustang convertible, candy apple red with white interior and a modern Coyote V8, hold the cylinder deactivation. Pretty please

    • 0 avatar

      I haven’t read into the legislation at all, but I saw it reported elsewhere that it allowed for 325 units of a particular model, up to 5000 units a year per manufacturer (I believe). Depending on how much differentiation is required (I.E, 325 ‘64.5 Mustang replicas a year could be built by a company that also builds 325 ’66 GT350 replicas, and 325 ’68 Bullitt replicas, and 325 ’70 Boss 302 replicas, and so on, to amortize some of the components), it might be enough to make it affordable. On top of that, since this applies to turn-key replicas, some manufacturers might find it’s just enough to justify more models (offered as a split between the allotment of turn-key sales and the currently legal kits).

    • 0 avatar

      “Such low volume will make this mostly unaffordable to the average joe.”

      That’s the purpose of “The Law.” This one’s no different.

  • avatar

    Wow, they couldn’t even give this little win to him, because because “Trumpism” is the new enemy. :-/

    • 0 avatar

      “was enacted by Congress in 2015”

      It was signed into law by Barack Obama. It took 5 years to write the regs. The “Witless 45th President” had nothing to do with it.

      • 0 avatar

        Regulations are now being written at a fast and furious pace. Bureaucracy for the sake of bureaucracy is alive and well. 46

      • 0 avatar

        More wisdom from the guy who thought Francisco Franco was the leader of France.

        Well, gee, let’s dissect this, shall we? Congress passed the law in 2015. Now, I seem to remember some silly written document that says that the Congress passes laws and the executive branch is in charge of enforcing those laws. I also seem to recall the same document says the president is in charge of the executive branch. If I think real hard I’ll come up with the name of that document.

        Oh, yeah…it’s called the Constitution!

        Guess my coffee had to kick in.

        • 0 avatar

          That’s ok, a certain senator from Texas claimed yesterday that the Paris Climate Agreement was for the benefit of…

          Wait for it…


          The jokes write themselves

          • 0 avatar

            Lie2me, we had a conversation about it with my wife. We decided Cruz cannot be that stupid. Mind you about all these Trumpitos… don’t be fooled by their populism, they’re all pretty elite. Look up where Cruz was educated. Basically royalty.

            I think that’s exactly what all the trumplings want to hear. So there he goes with the America first twits. It doesn’t matter one iota how stupid it actually sounds.

          • 0 avatar

            Cruz was joking. He said it for a laugh, but cue the fact checkers anyway. Why should the Babylon Bee have all the fun?

          • 0 avatar

            Nick, I realize he was pandering to his lowest base, but I’m not sure if insulting his constituents is a good enough excuse

            Lorenzo, they’re always “just kidding” when called out. I read Cruz’s Tweet I got no indication of sarcasm or humor in it, he was appealing to people who hate the French, because, you know, they’re French

          • 0 avatar


            Yep, it’s the “locker room talk” excuse.

            Cruz is garbage. All you need to see is this picture to sum him up:


            After months of trashing the living crap out of Trump on the campaign trail, there he was, not only riding the Trump Crazy Train, but helping to conduct it to its’ final stop, Crazy Town, on January 6th. Plenty of conservatives kept at least some semblance of dignity through all this. Cruz didn’t.

      • 0 avatar

        “Witless 45th” wouldn’t have had enough to gain, personally, to benefit from such a small group of enthusiasts (gun rights, anti-abortion, tax cut millionaires were usefully larger).

    • 0 avatar

      ““Trumpism” is the new enemy. :-/”

      Trumpism has been the enemy since he won the presidential primary in 2016.

      All y’all just dismissed it as “trump derangement syndrome” (TDS).

      But TDS got record numbers of liberals to the polls. Trump worked hard to enrage liberals, and he succeeded spectacularly — while his fans cheered. But, insulting and enraging more than half of the American electorate was a strategic mistake — because his insults motivated 80 million Americans to vote against him.

      For a majority of Americans, Trumpism has been the enemy since the beginning. Because he literally campaigned against *us* as people. As patriotic Americans, though, we settled at the ballot box, as we do in the United States of America.

      We’re all going to the ballot box again in 2 years! Let’s settle this like Americans, again! And again! And again!

      P.S. The only reason I put up with Trump was because I believe in elections and the American Way.

      • 0 avatar

        Look I get that you don’t like the guy, but I bet you still took the money he made you in the market. Trump accomplished more in 4 years than most people did in their lifetime, I know I haven’t accomplished 1/100th as much, and I’m fairly certain you didn’t either. Trump took care of our military, and didn’t have them walking around in pink high heels for sensitivity training like Obama did. ( fact, look it up ). And he certainly would not have made the national guard sleep in a cold parking garage after they were kicked out of the capital. Those men were used for political purposes, and those that did it should be ashamed of themselves. What amazes me the most, is that Trump is living in your heads rent free, and he’s no longer even President! The swamp, whom ordinary democrats seem to love, is coming for your money and ordinary Democrats don’t seem have a clue what’s coming, and what it will cost them, but everyone will find out soon enough. Democrats favorite song must be “ can’t get you out of my head” by Kylie Minogue, because for some unknown reason they just can’t. This is my one and only post on politics because this is a car site, and I want to talk about cars, but the hate, from those that preach unity and tolerance is astounding, and I’m not going to let negative comments like I just read slide, because all Presidents deserve respect, it’s just that some deserve it more than others. Now let’s just talk cars!

        • 0 avatar

          Well put.

        • 0 avatar


          “Look I get that you don’t like the guy, but I bet you still took the money he made you in the market.”

          Thanks for the copypasta, but that’s not really true. I don’t believe you, not because I haven’t heard this argument before, but because your argument doesn’t match the data.

          Here is the graph of the S&P 500 for the past decade:

          This chart starts partway through Obama’s term, and includes all of Trump’s term.

          What you see is an uninterrupted trend of stock market growth following the Great Recession (which has scrolled off the left side of the chart).

          The only difference between the pre-2016 and post-2016 trend is the increased volatility of the Trump era.

          “Trump accomplished more in 4 years than most people did in their lifetime, I know I haven’t accomplished 1/100th as much, and I’m fairly certain you didn’t either.”

          Give me the kind of money Trump inherited from his slum lord daddy, and I’ll build better businesses than he does.

          But all of this is beside the point. Trump mounted a violent insurrection against the government of the United States and its democratically elected leaders. I only put up with Trump in the first place, because I believe in our American system — even when we as a nation make a bad decision, as we did with President Donald J Trump.

          • 0 avatar

            Doesn’t matter if you believe me or not, but my accounts doubled during his administration. Your problem referencing the index, and buying index funds in general, is that you can never exceed the index. Index funds are for people who don’t understand the market, or just want to invest and not do the research to get better returns. I suggest you read Trumps speech again. He specifically said go peacefully down to the capitol and make your VOICES heard. Now I understand that democrats call everything a dog whistle, but I can only go by the words he said, but I guess you and the rest of the people that say Trump started this scuffle can read his mind and know his intentions and thoughts. I have not acquired that ability yet, nor has anyone I know., so you must have superpowers. As for you building a better business than him? I don’t care how much you have, if we dropped you in New York and you tried to build anything, all your money would be gone in a year. You don’t understand what it takes to build in New York, I do, you have to pay off the unions, the politicians, the garbage men, the police, and anyone that can make life difficult for you. Trust me, you would t know where to begin. It takes YEARS to develop the relationships necessary to be in construction in New York, and I’d venture to say that you would not even know where to begin. As for the insults against his father, I’ll just say that it takes a real man to insult a dead guy. I’m sure you might not have meant it, but that’s how it looks to me. And as for the type of construction Fred Trump did, I guess it would be better to let the poor people sleep in parking garages right? Fred Trump provided a service, and housing poor people, and collecting the rent is difficult if not impossible sometimes, and I’d like to see you try it. I’m also amazed that you know exactly how much he inherited, I wasn’t at the reading of the will, but I guess you were, so please tell us the exact amount. Bear in mind the inheritance was split between several children, so I imagine it was less than you think. So you see, your breakdown of my post was more like a series of random thoughts pulled out of your head with no basis in facts at all. We all know that you are entitled to you own opinion, but not your own facts, because truly, none of us really knows. Listen, the democrats threw nothing but kitchen sinks at him for four years, and he still almost won. No one, and I mean no one else could have stood up to this You might want to disconnect from the mother ship emails and look into things for yourself, instead of repeating party talking points. As far as the glee in defeating him and sending him packing, yeah the Democrats really showed him! You sent him back to Mar a Lago to live in luxury with Melania, and go golfing at a golf course he owns in Scotland. You really got him good! And since even Democrats think there was massive cheating in this election, democrats are apparently happy with hollow victories. You know, like cheating in College thinking you got over on someone. That type of person only cheats themselves. Sort of like Biden berating that man on TV a long time ago, saying he had 3 degrees and graduated in the top of his class, when he barely had one degree, and graduated almost at the bottom of his class. You can tell a lot about a man from his children, and I will put Ivanka, Erik, and Don Jr up against Hunt Biden any day. You know, the guy who got kicked out of the Navy for cocaine, and although he is worth millions in Chinese and Russian money, tried to deny paternity to a poor waitress he had a one night stand with, until of course a DNA test proved he was the father. It has been fun. Let’s do this again sometime somewhere else, but next time try to be a little more factual in your comments. The Trumps a bad man, he made me cry, he’s an existential threat ( really liked that one! )is growing really old and tiresome. Living rent fee in your head he is. Now please, let’s just talk cars, I Don’t enjoy debating, although I was very good at it in college. Have a good one!

        • 0 avatar

          Oh, give me a break…I’m supposed to somehow think better of Trump because my 401k is doing well? Nonsense.

          The market has done well under any number of presidents, and none of them came with Trump’s obvious and inexcusable character issues.

          I think what Democrats like me can’t figure out is this: why conservatives seem to think that the pre-COVID economic upturn was somehow magically due to Donald Trump, when in fact it was due to stuff like tax cuts. It was policy, not personality. What, Trump somehow put those through because of his magical political abilities? Give me a break. ANY conservative president could have put through with Congress ruled by the GOP and the results would have been exactly the same. I mean, Trump is the latest in a long, long line of conservative presidents who pushed tax cuts. Did we have to put up with his stupid toxic behavior with Reagan, or either Bush? Nope.

          What folks like me can’t figure out is why conservatives can’t seem to separate their ideology from this silly personality cult that Trump has going on. But they rode his crazy train right into the station, to the very end. Yeah, I don’t get that.

          • 0 avatar

            “I think what Democrats like me can’t figure out is this: why conservatives seem to think that the pre-COVID economic upturn was somehow magically due to Donald Trump, when in fact it was due to stuff like tax cuts.”

            Based on the economic statistics, the story is even worse than that.

            If you look at the econometrics, Trump basically continued the trends of the Obama economy, except with increased volatility (due to Trump’s monkeying with tariffs).

            However, many people *perceived* that the election of Donald Trump was some sort of economic victory.

            The answer is that the economy didn’t change, but the tone on right-wing media changed.

            When a Republican is in office, bad economic journalists report every time the market goes up (and fail to mention every time the market goes down). When a Democrat is in office, they report the inverse. Doesn’t matter what reality is.

            This kind of poor reporting becomes part of our culture.

            And THAT is what changed in 2016.

            THAT is why a lot of people became optimistic — not because the numbers changed, but because of pundits who don’t follow the numbers.

            P.S. We had economic meltdowns at the end of both GWB’s and DJT’s terms. It might not have been their faults, but it is a pattern which does against the economic myths Republicans like to believe about themselves.

          • 0 avatar


            The thing is, we know tax cuts work as short-term “juice” for the economy. The recent ones were no different. The negative effects are pretty well known as well.

            But again…none of this happened because Donald J. Trump was president. We know this is what happens when tax cuts take place, and it’d have happened under any Republican president.

            The mistake Republicans made was tying their longstanding love of tax cuts with the Trump personality cult.

  • avatar

    “made at least 25 years ago.”

    1990 Olds Trofeo please.

  • avatar

    Awesome, so when is Hennessey or Shelby going to start building us a turnkey SR I Viper? That thing was basically a kit car to begin with.

  • avatar

    I keep reading this title incorrectly, as an incredulous argument.

    “Replica car sales ruled, okay?!”

  • avatar

    keeping in mind current model year emissions compliance, following Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines.

    So they can make replica cars, but they have to be equipped with modern engines and emissions equipment? Not really a replica then, more like a resto-mod.

    • 0 avatar

      Nothing wrong with a modern crate engine in a newly car, IMHO. A DeLorean with a modern engine would be a pretty sweet ride!

      The purists can still restore and maintain actual antiques. They can probably do it more easily and cheaply, since the restomod crew might not be competing with them for donor vehicles.

  • avatar

    Does this also apply to concept cars that were never produced? I’d love to see someone produce a Chrysler Atlantic, or Miata M Coupe. Maybe the Ford Forty Nine? Sadly it’s still too early for the lovely Nissan IDx…dang you Nissan!!

  • avatar

    I can see this working for 1970s and earlier bodies but not for late ’90s and, in future years, still newer models because of their greater complexity. At this point it would be legal to build a 993 Porsche with a modern engine but I’m not sure a small kit manufacturer would have resources to do so. An early ’60s 356 would be well within their capability if they could find an emissions compliant engine for it.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Just wait until Joe and Kamala get wind of this. It will be repealed by an EO in milliseconds.

    • 0 avatar

      Oh stop.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      Somebody needs to take Joe’s pen away from him before he hurts himself.

    • 0 avatar

      Joe and Kamala are preoccupied with the 4 major crises they inherited from the previous administration:

      They aren’t interested in small things like this.

      Even if this were a priority, Joe likes during burnouts ( He’s probably sympathetic, and Kamala is persuadable by a high quality argument (she’s a lawyer). It’s people like Mitch McConnel that you’ve got to worry about.

      The current set of rules seems pretty reasonable — it makes allowances for something fun which should exist (replica cars), with environmental concerns (use a modern engine), and public safety (don’t make so many that people use these as a ton cars). Also, jobs for people building these cars is a good thing.

      The average Democratic politician would find this perfectly reasonable.

      Keep in mind that the right-wing media personalities mostly argues with strawmen, rather than actual Democrats. It’s easier to win an argument with a strawman.

  • avatar

    How does this interact with intellectual property rights for the design? Does the noob mfr have to contract or pay any form of royalty to the OEM?

    • 0 avatar

      There’s the rub. With folks suggesting someone make 5 or 6 different versions of Mustangs through history, Ford may not be too thrilled. But wasn’t this essentially the source of the recent Ferrari GTO case because someone wanted to make a replica and Ferrari had let the copyright lapse?

      For more recent possibilities, expect part of that already-steep low-volume price to include a hefty royalty to the copyright holder (ajla’s Trofeo might slip under that radar, but talk about low-volume…).

  • avatar

    Somebody please make the missing 1983 missing year Corvette! But I would settle for a 1982 with an updated engine and interior. That car has been my dream since I was 12. (almost 40 years)

    • 0 avatar

      You meant to say that 83 corvette pace car I bought is a fake? Say it isn’t so! :)

    • 0 avatar

      I liked those ’81 and ’82 Corvettes too. One with modern running gear would be VERY appealing to me.

      And, no, Chevrolet did not sell any 1983 Corvettes. I read that they produced a small number of pre-production models, but one one still exists and was never sold. If we’re referring to the 1983 Indy pace car, that was a Buick Riviera.

  • avatar

    That Cobra replica has the wrong size rims and the rear fender well is all wrong. Looks like a Factory 5 perky butt?

    Should look like this.

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