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 passionate Kansas automobile bought the car of his dreams in 2017 – a convertible Corvette 1959 – from a dealership across the borders of Indiana. When he tried to register the car home in Kansas, the Kansas Highway Patrol seized it as “contraband.” According to the law of the state of Kansas at the time, the Corvette has to be crushed and is in a pound from Topeka, while the owner pleads his case to the state court system.
Under previous Kansas law, the police were required to seize and destroy any car on which the VIN “was destroyed, deleted, modified or degraded”. There was no exception for a car legally purchased by someone who had no reason to be aware of its problems VIN. In the case of this 1959 Corvette, the VIN plate on the dashboard had been removed years ago during the restoration of the car 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 specifies that VIN can be removed from an antique vehicle “if the removal and reinstallation are reasonably necessary for the repair or restoration, unless the person knows or has reason to know that the ancient vehicle was 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 experience of passionate Kansas prompted SEMA to start evaluating the language of other states to ensure that this serious incident remains an isolated event. The process aims to clarify existing similar laws to protect restorers and classic car owners.
In Arizona, a law supported by SEMA (HB 2480) was introduced to enable the complete restoration of prior to 1981 vehicles, including the temporary removal of the VIN if necessary. HB 2480 amends existing legislation to enable the removal and reinstallation of a VIN on previous vehicles and 1981 if it is reasonably necessary for the repair or restoration. Before the new law, enthusiasts who intentionally suppressed or altered a VIN, whatever the reason or the vehicle model year, were guilty of a crime.
The Arizona bill has passed the legislature and is awaiting approval or a veto from Governor Doug Ducey. The bill 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.