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New House bill may pass that kills the Classic Muscle car industry!

Updated June 27, 2015

Everyone loves American muscle cars of the 1960’s and 70’s, but a new bill may pass soon that could kill the value of some of the most beloved classic cars. I’m afraid it is going to flood the market with so many well-built cloned or replica cars that it will water down the values of the legit high-end original classic hot-rods and American muscle cars.

Let’s examine the facts first and you will see what I’m talking about; A new bill (H.R. 2675) introduced this month in the House of Representatives could allow small companies to build fully drivable classic car replicas. This bill would also keep companies proposing to build these cars from meeting the same expensive safety and emissions test that the major auto manufacturers are required to meet. If this bill passes, it will bring about new rules for these registered companies allowing them to produce and sell up to 500 finished and ready to drive cars in the US each year. The big difference is now they will carry a federally issued VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).

This new bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Mark Mullins (R-Okla.) and Gene Green (D-Texas) and supported by the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), a group that represents the kit car and aftermarket parts industry. H.R. 2675 would also require these vehicles to be powered by modern engines already certified by their suppliers to pass current emissions standards, but with the ability to be exempt from the more stringent federal safety regulations.

SEMA’s senior director of federal government affairs (Stuart Gosswein) said previous attempts to create this type of low volume classification have been stymied in part by opposition from some of the major automakers. He also said that allowing only classics (25 years and older) and not unique designs should make it more palatable for the industry to accept. The cars must be exact visual replicas of the vehicles and their original auto manufacturers must license the designs.

FF-Cobra-blue

(Factory Five Racing , the largest kit car builder in the world and the Shelby Cobra kit is seen here is most popular)

Even though one advantage being promoted is the possible thousands of job this new bill could create, Gosswein was quoted as saying “The impact on the auto industry will be small, eventually accounting for only about 1500 cars a year”.

Now this begins my argument, this new bill could be a classic car market killer because if you look at recent trends the classic and muscle car prices and popularity has been on the rise. Allowing these new companies to start building replicas of American classic car may indeed flood the market and water down the value of the original cars. Why pay upwards of $200,000 for an all original classic muscle car when you will be able to purchase an exact replica for a fraction of the cost. If collectors stop paying premiums for original stuff, the value will drop and kill the classic car auction market. Auction companies such as Barrett Jackson and Mecum will definitely feel the impact of such a market shift.

barrett-jackson-1967 gt500-mustang

(A 1967 Shelby GT-500 crossing the auction block at Barrett Jackson)

Replicas and clones have been doing very well at the car auctions, however, those cars are built from original cars and cloned as a more rare or desirable car….i.e. a Shelby GT500 Mustang, Plymouth Hemi Cuda, or a Chevy COPO Camaro. Those cars in an all original, numbers matching state have been fetching premium prices north of six figures for a while now. But these cars in a replica or “Clone” as their called, have been bringing good prices that are trending upward.

MecumAuctionCOPO Camaro

(Original Chevy Camaro’s in COPO trim have been trending upward at recent car auctions)

Industry experts are predicting that potentially dozens of new companies may begin building new cars like it was in pre-World War II period before the big three took over (Ford, GM, and Chrysler).

I’m not saying that some fine replicas won’t be built, but at what cost to the market? If 15-20 companies pop up and begin building good quality classics such as Corvettes, Mustangs, and Camaros, how will the classic car market react to these new vehicles hitting the streets? My grandfather use to refer to the old classics as “They are only original once” and that statement is still true today. Maybe I’m wrong and a bold move like this will cause collectors to hold on to the originals and drive the price of those car higher, but it’s a risky gamble to assume that.

SP GT40

(Superperformance sells replica kit cars like this Ford GT40, but owners have to complete it themselves)

If you own an all original classic car you may be faced with a decision soon….as Kenny Rogers said in the song The Gambler, “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run”. He was talking about gambling at the poker table, but how will you gamble with your classic muscle car?

Currently the bill (H.R. 2675) awaits further action from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, so only time will tell how the passing of this bill will affect the collector car market.

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Calvin Escobar
About Calvin Escobar

The Car scene is so diverse Where I come from, most enthusiasts recognize the amazing engineering (particularly the engines). The bulk of the ridicule originates from the manner in which many of the vehicles are modded/maintained. Thus, the jokes and or hate tends to be aimed more at the owner rather than the machine. All of which makes seeing properly sorted old Toyota's and Hondas at car meets, auto shows, and track days all the more refreshing.

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