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Spring 2016 5

The bill was passed by the

U.S. Congress and signed by the

President in December, 2015. Ac-

cording to information printed in

the Specialty Equipment Market




newsletter, the bill was the result

of a year-long effort by SEMA

with support from the specialty

equipment industry. It means

that a company can legally sell a

turn-key replica Cobra. It must

meet federal equipment stan-

dards (lighting, tires, windshield,

brake hoses, etc) but is exempt

from vehicle standards such as

roof crush, side impact and crash

testing. Turn-key vehicles must

also meet current Clean Air Act

emissions standards. Manufactur-

ers must install a certified engine

package from a current model

year vehicle or a crate engine that

has been certified by the Califor-

nia Air Resources Board (CARB).

It will then be permanently ex-

empt from emissions testing.

What does this mean? You can

purchase a turn-key Cobra replica

that is powered by, say, a current

Ford crate engine that has al-

ready been certified. However, if

you want something with a 289

Hi-Po or a 427 medium riser, the

rules have not essentially

changed. You’re still on your own,

buying the roller separately and

getting the engine somewhere

else. And then dealing with your

state’s DMV to register it.

We don’t know if all this is

good or bad. It appears to be the

federal government’s attempt to

install a one-size-fits-all solution

to replicas while, at the same

time, tangling them up in current

emission requirements. We have

an EPA so they naturally feel that

they must get involved. We sus-

pect that the more time that

passes, fewer and fewer replica

owners will consider original

specifications as important as

they presently do. Whatever hap-

pens, once federal regulations are

put in place, they are rarely re-

scinded. They just grow.


Elsewhere in this issue we re-

ferred to news of the new federal law

that will allow manufacturers of

replica vehicles to sidestep some gov-

ernment regulations as long as they

build cars powered by current-year

EPA certified engines. We remain con-

vinced that once NHTSA and EPA be-

come involved with hobby vehicles,

their interest will only expand.

The latest incursion by the Envi-

ronmental Protection Agency is a pro-

posed regulation that would prohibit

the conversion of street vehicles into

race cars. It would also make it illegal

to sell certain parts and products for

racing purposes on street vehicles. The

proposed regulation was hidden in a

non-related regulation titled, “Green-

house Gas Emissions and Fuel Effi-

cient Standards for Medium- and

Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles –

Phase 2.”

If this law was passed it would im-

pact all vehicle types such as sports

cars, sedans and hatchbacks most

commonly converted for use at the

race track. The Clean Air Act already

prohibits certain modifications to

motor vehicles but it was never in-

tended to regulate vehicles built or

modified for racing as long as they

were not used on the street.

Picture rows of grim, dour bureau-

crats shuffling the stacks of papers on

their desks without giving a thought

to any possible enjoyment citizens

might receive from either participat-

ing in or watching automotive compe-

tition. The parking lot outside their of

their office is probably filled with

Volts, Prius’ and Smart Cars. Could

they care any less that these proposed

EPA regulations represent govern-

mental overreach at its worst, running

contrary to the law and defying

decades of racing activity where the

EPA, itself, has allowed conversion of

vehicles for racing? Probably not.

As soon as word of this impending

action was splashed across the Inter-

net there was an immediate firestorm

of protest. Car enthusiasts contacted

their representatives in Congress, re-

sulting in the proposal being with-

drawn. SEMA released this press


“We want to thank Congress for

pushing the EPA to withdraw an ill-

conceived proposal. However, confu-

sion reigns: the agency continues to

assert new-found authority under the

Clean Air Act to regulate modification

of vehicles for use in competition. This

means that those converting and rac-

ing competition vehicles and the parts

and services industries that support

them, do so under new EPA policy that

considers the activity illegal. Only

clarifying legislation, such as that of-

fered under the RPMAct, will confirm

that such activity is legal and beyond

the reach of future EPA regulations.

The racing industry and public need a

long-term solution to eliminate any

uncertainty regarding how the Clean

Air Act is interpreted.”

Don’t think this is the end of it. If

anyone believes the EPA bureaucrats

will sulk back into their offices and

move on to some other do-gooder un-

dertaking, they do not know their his-

tory. The EPA apparatchiks will keep

coming back, again and again, and

each defeat will only stiffen their re-

solve. Think of the Terminator.