Ford Focus Forum banner

1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Small Car Czar
Joined
·
15,328 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Does anyone have any SOLID info about exactly how a kit car gets approved and registered to drive on U.S. highways?

Does the kit manufacturer have to go through some process?

What about one-offs? Is the car registered under what it "use" to be?

I'm going to the Kruse International Auto Auction this weekend and am going to try and find out there but thought someone on FJ may hold the answer.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,580 Posts
in reference to part 1. a kit car must comply w/all vehicular law in the state of title just as any original version of the car would. ie a 65 cobra kit car would have to comply w/any and all laws that are required for any original 65 cobra. (it needs brake lights but not airbags for example).

-Ult
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,580 Posts
however its only subject to inspection laws that were issued for the car it copies (ie a 65 cobra kit would only have to pass '65 laws)...and b/c those are all historics now, you get cheap insurance and no emissions testing. here in md, as long as your the owner of a car in that situation, they wont look at it again.

thats why a few guys around here who are tired of b'g pestered bout their stangs exhaust, emissions, etc etc have actually got cobra kits (or old mustangs)...dumped their whole deal from the stang into the cobra, which in turn is subject to few of those issues. it may have a 5.0 drivetrain, a kit that was made in 2001, built in 2002...but its subject to laws of the car's origin (65 kit gets '65 laws)

when's the last time you saw a cobra pulled over for loud exhaust for example?

-Ult
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
674 Posts
Check with your state laws. My father had a kit car in MD that was built from a pinto chasis and titled as a pinto. It had to have all of the original safety equipment, ie. lap belts, all lights, and so on. But it was exempt from emmisions because it's pinto platform was so old.

However it is important to stress that it follows the rules of the car it is built from, not the one it is trying to copy.

For example, a Ferrari knock off on a Fiero would have to pass emmisions for that year Pontiac. Also, there is another category that should be considered seperately. This is for cars that are built from scratch. These are considered home built in MD and have to pass certain safety standards but no emmisions. An example of this was a formula SAE car from our school. We thought it would be fun to get it taged and driven on the road. As it turns out all we needed to do was add running lights and some identification plate and it would have been street legal. Formula SAE example

Too bad our engineering school didn't see the same humor in it and would not let us go through with it.
 

·
Small Car Czar
Joined
·
15,328 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Well, Cobras seem like an easy one to pin down. They are probably one of the most, if not THE most built kits available.

But WHAT constitutes the CAR? Is it the body? The running gear?

Say a Fiero/Ferrari, probably a Fiero, that's a no brainer.

But there is a wild exotic kit out right now that uses the running gear and suspension and other assorted parts from an Accord. I need to find a link to it.

Other then those parts, the car is sort of a NEW animal, how can it be classified/registered as an Accord? I don't think it uses the unibody of the Accord...so where does a VIN come from?

Can you use the Accord's VIN even if it is a whole new chassis? Like it was a salvage?

"Yeah, it's a salvage, we salvaged the engine, drivetrain and suspension".

WTF? The law seems pretty gray in that area!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,983 Posts
Yea, I always wondered how a car like this from www.indystreetcar.com could be road legal:

I did some research after I saw one of them at the Carlisle Import and Kit Car show. It had a Florida license plate. And from what I now understand, the registration of a kit car is for the most part dependant on the state law.

For example, here's PA's take on what they call "Reconstructed and Specially Constructed Vehicles" The last page details the different types of titles that can be issued (Read the full PDF for more detailed info):

RECONSTRUCTED
(1) Restored (totalled vehicle)
(2) Converted/Modified (convertible top, truck bed)
(3) Glider Kit (and parts)
SPECIALLY CONSTRUCTED
(1) Parts (mix & match)
(2) Kits (dune buggy)
(3) Glider Kit (no axles)

(Does anybody know what a Glider Kit is. I guess I'll have to look it up)

Also note: "All Specially constructed vehicles must be equipped as required by the PA Vehicle Code and the Equipment and Inspection Regulations for the proper body type of the Vehicle. No exceptions can be made, since specially constructed vehicles are required to pass the safety inspection program."

So, to make a long story short, its up to your local state government. For example, I was told that the above pictured car could not be registered in PA because it does not have fenders over the wheels. And that is required somewhere in the state inspection regs.

My boss here at work converted an ElCamino into a 4WD back in his High School days. He told me that a state police officer actually had to come out and take a look at it before the Dept of Transportation would issue the title.

What I'm curious about and have not found an answer for, is a 'reconstructed' or 'specially constructed' vehicle subject to emissions testing. For example, if you did the V-8 swap to your focus, would it still be required to pass emissions testing?
 

·
Small Car Czar
Joined
·
15,328 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
OK, I guess I'll let the cat outta the bag.


My theory is:

Would it be possible to canibalize/combine a Mazda3 and a Euro-Spec C1 Focus to arrive at something that can legally be registered in the U.S.?

They are going to be fairly close "under the skin". So why not put all the mechanicals from the 3 under the C1 Focus chassis and call it a "modified" or "combined" Mazda 3 using the 3's VIN for title and registration?

I'm not interested in doing anything illegal, I'm just trying to find a loophole.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,983 Posts
OK, I guess I'll let the cat outta the bag.


My theory is:

Would it be possible to canibalize/combine a Mazda3 and a Euro-Spec C1 Focus to arrive at something that can legally be registered in the U.S.?

They are going to be fairly close "under the skin". So why not put all the mechanicals from the 3 under the C1 Focus chassis and call it a "modified" or "combined" Mazda 3 using the 3's VIN for title and registration?

I'm not interested in doing anything illegal, I'm just trying to find a loophole.
I think that in the end, the vehicle must meet the Vehicle Code and pass State Inspection. So yea, as long as the end result met that criterea, it should work.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
187 Posts
(Does anybody know what a Glider Kit is. I guess I'll have to look it up)
A glider is usually a term associated with the trucking industry. It refers to a full chassis and body, but no powertrain (engine, trans, driveshaft, axles). If you want to liken this term to an automotive equivalent, consider the Focus/Cobra car. After they removed the engine, trans, and rear axle from the Cobra, they sold off the body. Basically that could be called a glider.
 

·
Small Car Czar
Joined
·
15,328 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Well, we don't have state inspections here.


Going this route I see NO WAY they could say that the car did not meet safety requirements, compared to something like sandrails, which I see driving on the street.

Can you imagine getting into an accident in a sandrail!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
480 Posts
OK, I guess I'll let the cat outta the bag.


My theory is:

Would it be possible to canibalize/combine a Mazda3 and a Euro-Spec C1 Focus to arrive at something that can legally be registered in the U.S.?

They are going to be fairly close "under the skin". So why not put all the mechanicals from the 3 under the C1 Focus chassis and call it a "modified" or "combined" Mazda 3 using the 3's VIN for title and registration?

I'm not interested in doing anything illegal, I'm just trying to find a loophole.
Ron, you really should not have let that out. I mean the theory is awesome. I am stoked to see it if it becomes a reality, but how cool would it have been to just do a real quick splash with the finished product?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
674 Posts
ok, this leads us to another interesting discussion. Gray market cars
These are cars that some how get registered even though they don't "legally" belong here. Or the cars owner finds some other way to continue to drive it without being cought. This is a whole can o' worms.

Rather than find you a loophole, I will give you some stories. So everyone gather round the campfire and lets dream about automotive folklore and legend.

Story #1)
Someone I know *cough*mydad*cough* inherited a '67 Rolls Royce right hand drive. The car was brought over from England in the early eighties and never registered. So about 4 years ago this person finds himself the owner of this big fat cow of a car and wants to drive it on the street. Off to the MVA, where he discovers they have no clue but don't discourage him. They tell him to collect documentation to prove ownership. He returns on Holloween only minutes before close of business and the start of the MVA party in the back. Rather than fight with him they take his $80 and give him his plates. There is more to the story, but it's really not that important.

The moral of the story:
You can get a lot done if you can fight the red tape and are a trustworthy looking gray haired old man.


Urban legend #B)
Old VW bugs drive down to Mexico and become brand new. There is actually a lot of truth to this, but the only part of the old bugs that make the trip are the three pieces of vehicle ID. One vin from the window, one from the center tunnel, and the generator stand with the stamped engine number. By the way wealthy people do this too, they just do it with the bugs big brother the Porsche. Not much easier HP gain than importing a earospec car. If I had the cash I would have an RS here no problem. Just depends on where you live as to how hard it is to get away with.


The moral of the story:
How legal do you want to make this?


Historical reference #3.1)
It is true that Bill Gates imported a Porshe 959. Who knows the whole story? I sure don't. I heard he drove it for years being hassled by cops before they impounded it and left it to rot. I heard he offered to buy another and have it crash tested, some stories say he even did that. Now there is a loophole for cars like these, and he is largely responsible. True story, I have only seen a Jg XJ220 in one place. That place is in Seattle and there were two of them side be side.

The moral of the story:
You my friend are no Bill Gates. There is no moral here
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
674 Posts
Look into Urban legend #B. I think that would work best for you with the least work. Just make sure it will pass emissions, and play off that it is a custom focus. But with all that energy and money, why not import an RS? Then visit the local junkyard and get a vin.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,296 Posts
these are some of the guidelines that the insurance company i work for uses to determine if it is insurable. pretty obvious questions, though. mainly you just need to prove that it is road-worthy. if you are going to try what you suggested, that might be a lot easier than trying to insure something like a dune buggy, and i'm not sure it would be classified under kit cars, but a large part of what we look at is the chassis it is running on.

Obtain prior to referring to appropriate underwriting authority:

1. What is the:
*year/make/model of chassis ?
*year and size of engine ?
*year/make/model of the vehicle it resembles ?
*VIN assigned by Motor Vehicle Department ?
*original Cost New and Stated Amount ?
2. *Was it manufactured professionally ? By whom ?
3. What type of experience does the manufacturer have ?
4. What material is it constructed of ? (fiberglass)
5. When was the construction completed ?
6. Where is the vehicle garaged and how is it used ?
7. How is the vehicle registered ? Fully inspected ?
8. Who operates the vehicle ?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,524 Posts
Would it be possible to canibalize/combine a Mazda3 and a Euro-Spec C1 Focus to arrive at something that can legally be registered in the U.S.?

They are going to be fairly close "under the skin". So why not put all the mechanicals from the 3 under the C1 Focus chassis and call it a "modified" or "combined" Mazda 3 using the 3's VIN for title and registration?
This would be just as legal as taking a current Focus and getting a bunch of parts off of the RS version from Europe and mixing/matching to come up with a whole car.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,521 Posts
Would it be possible to canibalize/combine a Mazda3 and a Euro-Spec C1 Focus to arrive at something that can legally be registered in the U.S.?

They are going to be fairly close "under the skin". So why not put all the mechanicals from the 3 under the C1 Focus chassis and call it a "modified" or "combined" Mazda 3 using the 3's VIN for title and registration?
This would be just as legal as taking a current Focus and getting a bunch of parts off of the RS version from Europe and mixing/matching to come up with a whole car.

Not quite the same. Here in the Mid-Atlantic states they title and register this type of vehicle based on the chassis that was used. I have helped people build an MG-TC which was registered as a 69 Volkswagon and an MGA which was registered as a Toyota. A fellow I used to work for later built and sold Lotus Super 7 replicas built on Toyota chassis(he called them "Rotus 7's"
. They were registered as Toyotas.

Best thing to do is contact your state DMV (call the state office not a local one)and explain what you want to do and see what they say.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,264 Posts
Ron...

The big hurdle you'll encounter is that it still has to be on a DOT approved Chassis... meaning if you were to tear the internals out and throw it on a current ford chassis.. then you're golden (thats the crash test side of things).

As long as the engine is smog legal for IN, and the frame is DOT approved... then I think you could be set.

(What you'd need to do is get the chassis off an American C1... like that volvo or something.)

Most kit cars I know are built on an existing chassis... usually from some totally different car.
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Top