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Difference Between Assembled, Replica and Kit Car Titles. (what is easier)

The world of titling and registering former track cars, race cars, or exotic vehicles can be a daunting journey filled with potential pitfalls. A common question that echoes through our helpline is, “What is the difference between a kit car, an assembled car, and a replica?” In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dissect the major differences and ensure you’re on the right path, steering clear of potential problems.

Understanding the Trio: Kit Cars, Assembled Cars, and Replicas

1. Kit Cars:

  • A kit car is a vehicle sold as parts in an assembled kit by a company. Once you assemble the kit into a complete motor vehicle, you present it to your state, where it is issued a new VIN number.
  • Kit car manufacturers are usually authorized to issue VIN numbers, although VIN numbers are generally issued for completed vehicles by new car dealerships.
  • Example: A roadster kit replicating the old AC Cobras.

2. Assembled Cars:

  • An assembled vehicle is one with a body that does not resemble any particular year, make, or model. Think of it as a completely custom vehicle, akin to a Batmobile.
  • The vehicle must meet current standards in effect at the time of its assembly.
  • Example: Custom cars built from scratch, not resembling any existing model.

3. Replicas:

  • A replica vehicle has a body built to resemble and reproduce another vehicle of a specific year and model, using new, reconditioned, or original parts.
  • Replicas offer allowances for criteria, allowing adherence to the standards of the year and model being replicated.
  • Example: Replicating a 1965 Mustang using appropriate parts.

The Importance of Meeting Standards

Challenges with Race Cars:

  • Race cars like the Lola, which were never manufactured for on-road use, pose challenges in obtaining a legal VIN number. They lack conformity to any specific standards due to their racing origins.

Modern Vehicles with Limitations:

  • Modern cars like the COPO Camaro, although resembling a production vehicle, might not be eligible for titling due to their non-compliance with safety and production standards.

Custom and Hollywood Creations:

  • Custom vehicles, like the Beverly Hillbillies custom truck built by George Barris, may only come with a bill of sale and no title if they don’t conform to federal regulations.

Navigating Federal Regulations:

  • Understanding federal regulations is crucial. Three agencies – the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) – lay down rules that states must follow when titling and registering vehicles.

Choosing the Right Path

Selecting the Appropriate Channel:

  • Whether it’s a kit car, assembled vehicle, or replica, each has its pros and cons. Understanding your vehicle’s characteristics is essential for navigating the legal landscape.

Avoiding Missteps:

  • A cautionary note about filing for an abandoned vehicle – it’s not the same as acquiring title, and once filed, the state may seize and auction the vehicle.

The Road Ahead: Ensuring Compliance

Federal Felonies and VIN Numbers:

  • Tampering with VIN numbers is a federal felony. VIN numbers are either factory-issued or government-issued; creating one independently is a serious offense.

Understanding Title Revocation:

  • Just because you have a title doesn’t mean it’s permanent. States can revoke titles if a vehicle is found ineligible or if the title was issued improperly.

State vs. Federal Regulations:

  • States cannot go rogue in setting their own rules; federal regulations ensure consistency across the nation.

Seeking Guidance

For those navigating the complexities of assembled vehicles, kit cars, or replicas, assistance is just a click away. Visit our website at for more information or reach out to our dedicated help desk. Our team is ready to guide you through the intricate process of acquiring a legal title for your unique vehicle.

The world of unique and non-standard vehicles may seem complex, but armed with knowledge and the right guidance, enthusiasts can successfully navigate the maze of titling and registration.

Have Title Questions? Talk to a Car Title Expert.

Book a consultation with a Car Title Expert from to get personalized guidance on your title recovery journey.

Don’t let uncertainty hold you back. If it’s your car, you deserve a title.

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