October 19, 2019

THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS: SEMA files lawsuit against NHTSA over failure to implement replica car rules.

“Companies have not hired workers, businesses have lost money, and consumers have been denied their rights to purchase replica cars,” SEMA [Specialty Equipment Market Association] President Chris Kersting said in the press release.

Earlier this year, Craig Corbell scuttled his plans to build a Cord replica and put the Cord trademark up for sale in part because of the NHTSA’s [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s] delay. “Until we get all the information from the government, I don’t want to get a long way toward getting stuff made and then have to do something different,” he said.

Former race team owner Charley Strickland hasn’t yet given up on his plans to build a replica Lamborghini Countach – one that’s already designed, prototyped, and ready for production – but said he has lost funding for the project entirely due to the NHTSA’s delays.

“I’ve done the proof of concept, but without further funding it will not exist, and I won’t get the funding as long as people are clueless about the Low Volume act and whether I can build it,” he said. “I’m the only one whose eat, breathed, and lived the Low Volume act for the last three years, and I’m the only one who it’s life or death to.”

Other companies interested in building replica cars under the act have found it difficult to keep suppliers on hold as well. Jim Espey, vice president of the De Lorean Motor Company, noted two years ago that he’d already missed windows for long-lead tooling necessary to begin production of replica DeLoreans. “The supplier said ‘Are you real, or are you jerking us around?’” he said.

It’s possible to buy near-perfect replicas of 1957 Fender Telecasters and Stratocasters, and reissues of vintage German tube microphones from the 1960s. But if you’ve ever wondered why you can’t buy a modern clone of a classic 1957 Chevy Nomad or ‘65 Ford Mustang, read the whole thing.

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