Old cars could be the new thing thanks to the passage of the latest federal transportation bill.
The wide-ranging legislation signed by President Obama on December 4th incudes a section that will allow low volume vehicle manufacturers to produce complete replicas of classic cars without needing to meet the same safety standards that major manufacturers do.
Theres already a thriving market for these component or kit cars, which today need to be sold without drivetrains, leaving it up to the customer to finish the build. If not, the companies producing them would need to go through tens of millions of dollars worth of crash testing, and include a growing list of active safety features which are prohibitively expensive to engineer for a small run of vehicles.
The new regulations, which should be fully in effect by the end of next year, will let companies sell up to 325 vehicles annually, as long as they are properly-licensed, or otherwise legally approved designs based on models that are at least 25 years old. This stipulation, along with the production limit, was included in part to assuage concerns from the major automakers that they might have to compete against countless startups building modern cars that didnt have to play by the same rules as they do.
To qualify, a company has to have a worldwide output of less than 5,000 cars and cant be a subsidiary of a larger automaker, so theres no backdoor for large foreign brands to sell cars under this law in the United States.