Kansas Passes SEMA-Backed Classic Car Legislation

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) applauds Kansas lawmakers for passing HB 2594 — “exempting certain modifications on antique vehicles from vehicle identification number seizures and tort provisions” — as a critical step in protecting rights of restorers and owners of classic vehicles in the state.

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The catalyst for the legislation came from a Kansas auto enthusiast who bought his dream car in 2017 — a 1959 Corvette convertible — from a dealership across Indiana’s borders. When he tried to register the car at his home in Kansas, the Kansas Highway Patrol seized it as “contraband”. According to Kansas state law at the time, the Corvette must be crushed and has since been in a Topeka impound, while the owner pleads his case in the state court system.

Under previous Kansas law, police were required to seize and destroy any car on which the VIN “has been destroyed, removed, altered, or defaced.” There was no exception for a car purchased legally by someone who had no reason to know about its VIN issues. In the case of this 1959 Corvette, the dashboard VIN plate was removed years ago during the car’s restoration and reapplied with new rivets.

After learning of the matter in late 2021, SEMA worked with Kansas Rep. Leo Delperdang to introduce HB 2594 and prevent it from happening again. The new law protects restorers and owners of classic vehicles without preventing law enforcement from carrying out their duties. It clarifies that a VIN can be removed from an antique vehicle “if the removal and reinstallation is reasonably necessary for repair or restoration, unless the person knows or has reason to know that the antique vehicle has been stolen.” .

The bill was unanimously approved by the Kansas House and Senate and has now been signed into law by Governor Laura Kelly. It can be viewed in its entirety here.

Although this is an extreme case, the Kansas enthusiast’s experience prompted SEMA to begin evaluating the language of other states to ensure this serious incident remains an isolated occurrence. The process aims to clarify similar existing laws to protect restorers and owners of classic cars.

In Arizona, SEMA-backed legislation (HB 2480) has been introduced to allow full restoration of pre-1981 vehicles, including temporary VIN removal if necessary. HB 2480 changes existing law to allow removal and reinstallation of a VIN on pre-1981 vehicles if reasonably necessary for repair or restoration. Prior to the new bill, enthusiasts who intentionally deleted or altered a VIN, regardless of the reason or the model year of the vehicle, were guilty of a crime.

The Arizona bill has passed the legislature and is awaiting approval or a veto from Governor Doug Ducey. The invoice can be viewed here.

These bills are just two examples of the work SEMA undertakes every day to protect the automotive hobby and our freedom to pursue them. To learn more about SEMA’s legislative activities, visit semasan.com.

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