Florida joined the growing list of states to enact SEMA-model legislation to amend the vehicle titling and registration classification for street rods and create a classification for custom vehicles. The bill was approved by the Florida State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Charlie Crist. Under the new law, a street rod is defined as an altered vehicle manufactured before 1949 and a custom as an altered vehicle at least 25 years old and manufactured after 1948.
Importantly, kit cars and replica vehicles will be assigned a certificate of title bearing the same model-year designation as the production vehicle they most closely resemble. Florida joins Arkansas, Virginia, Nevada, Washington, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Missouri, Montana and Rhode Island as states that have enacted similar bills into law.
The new law allows for the use of non-original materials, provides for special license plates and permits the use of blue-dot taillights. In addition, the measure exempts street rods and customs from a range of standard equipment requirements and emissions controls (only that equipment required in the model year that the vehicle resembles). Vehicles titled and registered as street rods and custom vehicles may only be used for occasional transportation, exhibitions, club activities, parades, tours, etc. and not for general daily transportation.
"The new law recognizes the unique nature of these vehicles as hobbyist cars," said SEMA Vice President, Government Affairs Steve McDonald. "For many vehicle enthusiasts in Florida and throughout America, building, maintaining and enjoying their vehicles is a favorite pastime. This law represents an opportunity to acknowledge their commitment to the hobby and to protect it for future generations."
The new law is the product of months of consultation with state legislators, regulators and the local hobbyist and business community.
"It was a pleasure to work with Steve McDonald and his staff at SEMA, and I am delighted to know motorsports enthusiasts have people like them on their side,” said Florida State Senator Bill Posey, the Senate bill's sponsor. “We've managed to craft and pass a piece of legislation that inserts common sense into titling and registration for customs and street rods to the benefit of the hobbyist community statewide."
House sponsor State Representative Pat Patterson commented, "From day one I have been amazed at the number of people who participate in this hobby. Nearly every day I've had someone stop me and thank me because they found out I was sponsoring this legislation. It's been a great pleasure to support an industry that I know plays such an important role in Florida's economy."
McDonald added: "Backed by the hard work and perseverance of Senator Posey and Representative Pat Patterson, we are extremely gratified that Florida has joined the list of states that recognize street rods and customs as distinct classes of vehicles. The new law offers the benefit of also including qualifying replicas and kit cars in these specialty vehicle titling and registration classifications."
The model bill will continue to be pursued by SEMA in states that either don't have registration classifications for these vehicles or have laws that are lacking in some way.