Classic cars are great, but getting into one can be difficult given the state of the collector car market. The latest Mecum Kissimmee results are a perfect example, with some rare American muscle selling for millions of dollars. But luckily replicas exists, and it was supposed to be easier for kit car manufacturers to get through regulations after the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act passed in 2015. But unfortunately, all that legislation had to make its way through the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), and it wasn’t quick. Now, at last, the final legislation has been revealed, and will make it easier for replica carmakers like Superformance and Factory Five to build replicas of muscle cars like the Shelby Cobra, and easier for you to buy one.
The new regulations allow companies to build up to turn key 325 replica vehicles. Most importantly, they don’t have to be kit cars, meaning companies can finally have an easy way to sell replica vehicles directly to consumers. They must be replicas of vehicles at least 25 years old and resemble whatever vehicle they are modeled after, but don’t have to be exact replicas. They also don’t have to follow modern safety regulations, which is a huge roadblock to manufacturers like Superformance and Factory Five, and why they’ve historically sold many of their replicas as kit cars.
There are, however, some regulations these replicas still need to follow. Unsurprisingly, those are emissions regulations. All vehicles produced under these new regulations must be California Air Resources Board (CARB) compliant. This isn’t quite as bad as it sounds though, as Motor Trend found in an interview with CARB’s communication director, Stanley Young.
Basically, since these replica muscle cars, sports cars or off-roaders would be considered new cars, they can’t use older engines that aren’t emissions compliant. They can, however, use engines from modern cars of the same model year that passed emissions testing. In other words, a 2021 replica could use an engine from a 2021 car, as they’ll be compliant for the same year. This leaves a door open for crate engines from Ford, General Motors and Stellantis to offer some crate engines specifically for these replicas.
General Motors have also announced they will offer a line of eCrate electric motors to drop in the vehicle of your choice, and will later offer their more powerful Ultium drive units for aftermarket applications. These replicas could be a great place to put them, and an easy way to avoid complication with emissions. That being said, the jury is out on who would want an electric muscle car replica. Superformance thinks there is a market, however, and is already developing an electric Shelby Cobra.
With these new regulations allowing existing replica manufacturers to have a much easier time selling products, what classic car would you like a replica of, and what should power it? With so many exciting options now on the table, we’d love to hear what you come up with in the comments down below.