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  • Custom Built Car Registration in Illinois

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    Custom-built cars follow a more complicated process for titling and registration than do ordinary cars and trucks. In many cases, these cars are reproductions of older antique models, also known as kit cars. Others are cars that were either heavily modified or built from scratch from parts.

    These unique cars are classed three different ways: as custom vehicles, street rods, or specially constructed vehicles.

    Custom Vehicles

    To be classified as a custom vehicle, your car must be all of the following:

    • Newer than model year 1948, or a replica of such a vehicle.
    • Altered from the manufacturer's original design or has a body constructed from non-original materials.
    • Used only for occasional transportation, exhibitions, club activities, parades, tours, and similar uses.
    • Not used for general daily transportation.

    Street Rods

    A street rod is different from a "custom vehicle" in that it is older. A street rod is defined as a vehicle that is all of the following:

    • Built to resemble a vehicle with a model year 1948 or older.
    • Has been altered from the manufacturer's original design or has a body constructed from non-original materials.
    • Used only for occasional transportation, exhibitions, club activities, parades, tours, and similar uses.
    • Not used for general daily transportation.

    Registration Process

    Custom-built vehicles and street rods follow the same registration processes. You'll need to provide documentation of where the vehicle came from by supplying one of the following that shows the VIN (vehicle identification number) for the body of the vehicle:

    • A certificate of origin from the manufacturer of the body.
    • If not from a kit, then a title for the vehicle from which the body came.
    • If you don't have a title or certificate of origin, provide bills of sale.
    • Completed certification by a National Street Rod Association (NSRA) inspector (see bottom of article).
    • A check for all applicable fees and taxes made out to the Illinois Secretary of State.

    You'll also need to document the source and VINs of the engine and chassis. The Vehicle Services Department gives more details about the documents needed to register your vehicle.

    Send all the documentation to:

    • Illinois Secretary of State
    • Attn: Custom Vehicle/Street Rod
    • Michael J. Howlett Bldg.
    • 501 S. 2nd St., Rm. 698
    • Springfield, IL 62756

    Don't be surprised if you are asked to bring the vehicle to a police station for inspection before a title or registration will be issued. You may need to show all the receipts for the vehicle or its components to prove that there are no stolen parts. The department will contact you to schedule an appointment if an inspection is needed.

    Instead of the above process, owners of custom vehicles and street rods may opt to use the process for registering a specially constructed vehicle, described below.

    Specially Constructed Vehicles

    A vehicle is considered specially constructed if it's a type that is normally required to be registered and either of the following apply:

    • It has been materially altered from its original construction by the removal, addition, or substitution of essential parts.
    • It was not originally constructed under a distinctive name by a generally recognized manufacturer of vehicles.

    Registration Process

    This process differs from the one above. You'll need to provide the following:

    • Photos of the completed vehicle showing views of the front, rear, and both sides.
    • Title for the chassis and all bills of sale or other ownership documents for any essential parts of the vehicles, or a certificate of origin from the manufacturer if the vehicle was assembled entirely from a kit.
    • Completed title (or title and registration) application.
    • Check made out to the Secretary of State for $95 for the title (or $196 for both title and registration).
    • Sales tax form with a check made out to the Illinois Department of Revenue for the amount of sales tax due.

    Send all the documentation to:

    • Illinois Secretary of State
    • Department of Police
    • Salvage Inspection Station
    • 2719 S. 11th St.
    • Springfield, IL 62793

    This process requires an inspection; the department will contact you to schedule one.

    Because the titling and registration process is complicated, we recommend that you consult the Vehicle Services Department for more detailed information.