- Location: Hawaii
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The hot rod craze seems stuck on the West Coast of the mainland. But with reality television beaming the cool subculture across the airwaves more and more these days, it is bound to strike a testosterone chord in some island car aficionados.
After all, the evidence of truck modification is rampant on the islands. Just head upcountry on the Big Island and you might feel like you have entered another dimension where everybody drives monster trucks with 15-foot tires.
Then there are the souped-up low-riders with fancy paint jobs and funky sounding mufflers that look straight off an episode of MTV's Pimp My Ride. So it is only a matter of time before one of these enthusiasts puts together a hot rod from a kit or builds a car from parts collected at the junkyard.
There was a time a few years ago when it seemed almost impossible for one of these cars to pass an inspection, but the laws have opened up a bit― even if the way they define a custom vehicle remains a bit complicated.
If you intend to purchase some modern or futuristic-looking kit car, you might want to call your county registration office (locations below). The law that covers these "special interest" type vehicles tends to focus on those designed to look like historical hot-rods and the like―pre-1968.
There are two types of vehicles that fall into this category: street rods and street rod replicas. Both need to be insured, thoroughly inspected, and registered with the county in which you live before they may be driven. Essentially, both vehicle types undergo the same registration process―with just a few slight differences.
Modified or Custom-built Street Rods
These vehicles have quite a definition range, but the one common denominator is that they are the real thing. That is, the main body or chassis was manufactured by an automobile maker, and at one time or another it was a roadworthy vehicle.
Either the car was manufactured prior to 1968 or it was manufactured after 1967 to look like cars made prior to 1968. Confused yet? Basically, if you customize or modify an old car with a bevy of parts, then you will mostly likely fall into this category. To register the vehicle, you will need the following:
- You will need to be assigned a vehicle identification number (VIN) if it is either missing or there is more than one. Your county's director of finance is in charge of issuing new VINs.
- Inspection certificate.
- Bill of sale or invoice for every part used to modify the vehicle.
- Certificate of title.
- Weight certificate from a state scale.
Street Rod Replicas (Kit Cars)
These are defined as vehicles with a prefabricated body or chassis that was created to look like another vehicle. Again, check with the registration office if you are looking into buying a kit car that resembles an airplane on wheels or something. Kit cars are hard enough to get through the inspection and registration process without running into a hitch from day one.
Hawaii law defines replicas as those vehicles made to fool others into thinking you have a fancy, mint condition car from the years before the Nixon administration. Regardless, once you build your life-size working model car, you will need to register it. The following documents are necessary for the process:
Other Topics in This Section
- You will need to be assigned a vehicle identification number (VIN) by your county's director of finance.
- Weight certificate from a state scale.
- Bill of laden or other freight forms for all components.
- Invoice or other documents showing evidence of ownership from the manufacturer.
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