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Massachusetts Governor Signs SEMA-Model Registration/Titling Bill Into Law

ARMO-HRIA Booth at 2009 SEMA Show
Massachusetts legislators signed into law a bill that exempts street rods and customs from emissions inspection requirements.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law a version of SEMA-model legislation to create a vehicle registration classification for street rods, custom vehicles, replicas and specially constructed vehicles.

“After five years of working with the legislature on various iterations of this bill, we are extremely grateful to State Representative Carolyn Dykema, in addition to Representative Brian Dempsey, Representative Joseph Wagner, Representative Charles Murphy and Senator Steven Baddour and their staffs for taking it over the last hurdle,” said Steve McDonald, SEMA vice president of government affairs.

The new law defines a street rod as an altered vehicle manufactured before 1949 and a custom as an altered vehicle at least 25 years old and manufactured after 1948. Replica vehicles are defined as being assembled by a non-manufacturer from new or used parts that replicate an earlier year, make and model vehicle.

Specially constructed vehicles are those reconstructed or assembled by a non-manufacturer from new or used parts that have an exterior that does not replicate or resemble any other manufactured vehicle. Replica vehicles will be assigned a certificate of title bearing both the year in which the vehicle was built and the make, model and year of the vehicle intended to be replicated.

Through the persistence of former Methuen City Councilman Joe Leone, the bill was given consideration amongst the chaos that exists in the closing days of a legislative session. An avid enthusiast and owner of a FFR Roadster, Leone worked to educate lawmakers and regulators on the positive benefits that this bill would have on the enthusiast community.

“We are deeply indebted to Joe for his determined efforts to get the bill through the legislature,” said McDonald. “From countless e-mails, phone calls and visits to the State House, he helped to ensure that this pro-hobby bill would receive attention from lawmakers. Special thanks are also due to Factory Five Racing, Chop-Shop Customs, Dominators Car Club, Mass Cruisers Car Club and to the officers and member clubs of the Massachusetts Association of Automobile Clubs.”

Under the new law, street rods and custom vehicles are exempted from emissions inspection requirements. In a compromise made with the state air-quality regulators, the measure also provides that specially constructed and replica vehicles registered on or before April 30, 2012, will be exempted from emissions inspection requirements. Specially-constructed and replica vehicles registered after April 30, 2012, will be subject to emissions control requirements based on the model year and configuration of the engine installed, whether the engine is an original equipment manufacturer's production engine, rebuilt engine or crate engine.

“Street rods, custom cars, replicas and specially-constructed vehicles are the same rarely driven crowd pleasers that participate in exhibitions and as parade vehicles, and whose owners regularly contribute to charities and civic events,” McDonald added. “This new law simply recognizes the immeasurable amount of time, money and attention automotive hobbyists invest in their cars. For many vehicle enthusiasts in Massachusetts and throughout America, building, maintaining and enjoying their vehicles is a favorite pastime. This new law represents an opportunity to acknowledge their commitment to the hobby and to protect it for future generations.”

To date, the SEMA-model bill has been enacted in one form or another in Washington state (1999), California (2001), Illinois (2002), Missouri (2004), Rhode Island (2004), Hawaii (2004), Montana (2005), Maine (2005), Colorado (2006), Arkansas (2007), Virginia (2007), Nevada (2007) Florida (2007), Idaho (2008), Iowa (2008) Tennessee (2008), Utah (2009), Wyoming (2009), North Carolina (2009) and now Massachusetts (2010). The New York, New Jersey and Ohio Legislatures have introduced and are currently considering the model for the 2010 legislative session.

For more information, contact Steve McDonald at