Kit Car 101: Understanding Custom-Built Car Registration

Date posted: 07/31/2012

by Melissa Crumish on
in Registration & Titling

2864 Kit Car 101: Understanding Custom Built Car Registration

A kit car (also known as a custom-built car or assembled car) is the automobile world’s version of Frankenstein, minus, of course, the crazy, tamped-down hair. These are popular with hobbyists and mechanically inclined people good with building things from scratch.

A kit car is generally made from component parts, supplied by manufacturers. In many cases it replicates a current or classic vehicle with or without modifications.

Custom-Built Vehicle Registration

If you intend to drive your custom-built vehicle, you must register it with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office.

While car registration laws vary by state, in most scenarios you will need to comply with some or all of the following requirements:

  • Receipts or bill of sales for every component part. This is a must. DMV and law enforcement authorities require purchase verification as a way to cut down on criminal fencing operations (the illegal sale of stolen car parts). Some states require detailed explanations for any component part without a receipt.
  • Complete an ownership statement explaining how all parts were obtained and how you assembled the custom-built car. This form, if required by your state, may go by a variety of different names.
  • Have the vehicle inspected. Depending on your state, this may be a DMV official or a law enforcement agency. In most cases, this inspection will include verification of the car’s vehicle identification number (VIN). If the vehicle does not have a VIN, the inspecting agent will issue you one.
  • Pass a smog check, if applicable to your area.
  • Complete a register custom-built vehicle form. To reach this step, your vehicle must have passed all required inspections.
  • Provide proof of vehicle liability insurance, meeting your state’s minimum requirements.
  • Pay registration fees.

Some state DMV offices may simultaneously process registration and titling. Otherwise, you’ll also need to apply for a title. In most instances, the title will receive a special stamp, designating it as a kit car. In Utah, for example, titles get stamped SPCN, standing for “specially constructed.”

Have you ever built and registered a kit car? What process did you have to follow?

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