Market Snapshot


What specialty-equipment market niche do you make products for? According to SEMA market research, about 12% of SEMA members surveyed said the hot-rod and custom market generates the greatest percentage of sales revenue for their company, second only to the light-truck market. For those companies in, or thinking about entering, the hot-rod market, SEMA market research provides vital statistics on the current state of this lucrative industry segment. The following is a short excerpt from the 2006 Hot Rod Industry Report:

Classic Car Registrations: It’s important to look at how many classic cars, hot rods, street rods and musclecars are currently registered in the United States. Unfortunately, not every state keeps this kind of information. Each state classifies passenger vehicles differently, and we were unable to obtain make and model data from several states.

The problem with this is that pre-'73 vehicles would include models not considered hot rods. For example, a '57 Toyota would fall into the model years we specified, but would not be classified as a hot rod. Of course, there are also probably many pre-'73 vehicles throughout the United States that are stored in garages or barns and are not even registered.

California, the birthplace of hot rodding, has 2,775,004 registered automobiles from model years 1871 through 1972. This represents 5.99% of the total number of registered vehicles in the state. The following chart shows the breakdown of registered vehicles of model years '72 and older. SEMA was able to obtain the registration data from 26 states, although the process proved more difficult than anticipated.

Most of the state departments of motor vehicles claimed they do not keep such records. This doesn’t seem possible, for in order to register a vehicle, one must indicate the make, model and year of the vehicle in order to pay the appropriate fees. Many of the motor-vehicle departments didn’t respond to voicemails, e-mails or formal request letters. Of the states that participated, many charged fees from anywhere between $35–$1,000 for the data. Others made the data available for free.

The table below breaks down the totals by state. California represents the highest percentage of pre-'73 (2,775,004), followed by North Carolina (1,033,224). The state with the least number of pre-'73 registered vehicles is Vermont (1,331).

SEMA members can receive a complimentary copy of the full-length 2006 Hot Rod Industry Report as a member benefit. In it readers will find detailed analysis of the hot-rod registration data presented above, including a deeper look at which years and vehicle makes are most popular. In addition, the report is filled with valuable facts and figures about the ever-growing hot rod industry. SEMA members can download the report by visiting