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Titling A Kit Car With A New VIN – 50 States

So how do you title and register a vehicle that you basically made in your garage, or it’s a replica or some custom car without having a prior vehicle base underneath it? Like if you take an old ’69 Camaro and redo it and customize it, even if you make it into a hot rod or a retro mod, you have a car with a VIN number that it started with. What if you start from scratch and you have no VIN number, no chassis?

Kit Car or Assembled Vehicle Process
Well, in most states there’s a process called a kit car or an assembled vehicle, they call it in some states. California has a program called the SB100, and SB100 is a method for registering vehicles that are specially constructed cars. A lot of these are for the movie industry. We’ll talk about that momentarily, and some people make what they call a garage creation that now you want to bring on the road. It might be a replica of an old car, Shelby Cobras are very common, it might be like a Batmobile, something totally custom, or some other type of vehicle, maybe a race car.

SB100 Limitations and Application
The problem with California is they only give out 500 of these per year, that’s a limit. A lot of these are pre-allocated to the movie industry because they have to build cars to use in movies that are customized. So some of them go to the movie industry, and you’re not going to find this over the counter at the DMV. You have to do this through the main branch in Sacramento because some of the people at DMV have never heard of this. You can get these vouchers anytime during the year if they’re available.

Steps in the Registration Process
If they’re available, you have to go through a few step process. First, you have to get the paperwork from the DMV; they have all the paperwork. Make sure you keep all of your invoices so that they know how the car was built. They’re going to charge you tax on it. You’re going to have to have paperwork required throughout the build process. Then you’re going to have to get the California Highway Patrol to inspect the vehicle. They’re looking for stolen parts; they’re going to make sure there’s no parts on it that have VIN numbers from other vehicles that are stolen.

Vehicle Inspection and VIN Assignment
So if you buy a door from another car, make sure it’s not a stolen car because they’re going to check that vehicle out. They’re also going to create a new VIN number, and they are going to be the ones that put it on the car. They’re not just going to hand you a metal tag and say do whatever you want with it; they want to put it on the car with tamperproof rivets. They don’t want you switching it to another car.

Mechanical and Performance Inspections
Then you’re going to have to get a mechanical inspection for lights and brakes to make sure that it’s safe for the road. And then they do what’s called a bar exam. This is a performance examination. They put the car on a dyno, but they also check things like carbon monoxide isn’t leaking into the car, things like gasoline isn’t leaking out of the fuel system. It’s a safety thing.

Rules and Restrictions
California talks about some of the rules on this too, where it’s not for resale. You can’t be a company that’s building these to resell. Obviously, at some point, if you decide to sell it, you can, but if you’re reselling it as a manufacturer, that’s not what they want to do. It’s not constructed by a licensed manufacturer. So, you’re a private person, and it does not include a vehicle which has been repaired by replacing parts, meaning that if you buy a vehicle that’s a salvage or a junk or a car that’s damaged and you just replace it with the same parts, that’s not what they want to do.

Smog and Verification Requirements
You also have to go through smog, and you have to go through this vehicle verification process. You have to have a statement of construction that you complete, how you constructed the vehicle, primarily constructed by me, component part information, statement of facts. You have to go through this entire form and submit this properly to the DMV.

Now, if you’re not in California, it doesn’t matter. This process is an example of what most states have for an assembled vehicle, kit car, maybe a race car that you want to put on the road. Every state has something similar; they call it different things. So if you have a vehicle that’s been literally constructed from scratch in your backyard from multiple parts and it’s not really a car that existed before and you just modified it, building it from the ground up, the SB100 kit car assembled vehicle is a way to have it be designated as a vehicle, and then you can go about getting a title.

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