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  • Custom Built Car Registration in Wisconsin

    Whether it's a father and son spending some quality time together, or a way to impress the girls, many people find joy in custom-building cars. However, just because the car didn't come off the lot at one time doesn't mean it doesn't have to be registered.

    The good news is that Wisconsin may be the most hobby/custom car friendly state in the nation.


    Before we go any further, it's important that you understand the differences in these vehicles. Here are a few of the common definitions you'll hear while processing your custom or modified vehicle:

    • A hobbyist is someone who collects, modifies, works on, loves, lives, breathes, eats and sleeps cars, car modifications, car rebuilding and car magazines. Hobbyists know who they are.
    • A homemade vehicle is a car made from scratch―no pre-existing body or chassis was used.
    • A replica is a reproduction of a vehicle made by another manufacturer from at least 20 year ago. Most kit cars are designated as replica cars.
    • Street-modified vehicles are rebuilt and refurbished vehicles that may or may not be modified from the manufacturers original specification, that are at least 20 years old. The street modified vehicle remains recognizable as the original vehicle. These vehicles are also known as "street rod" and as "hot rod" cars.
    • A reconstructed vehicle means any vehicle (in this case, 20 years old or older) that has been substantially altered or modified from its original construction and no longer resembles the original vehicle.
    • A parts car is the old, inoperable car owned by the hobbyist and used to supply parts of any vehicle being constructed or reconstructed.

    Get Registered

    It's actually pretty easy, compared to lots of other states, to get your homemade, reconstructed, or hobby hot rod registered as street legal. If you already owned the vehicle from which you took the original frame or chassis, then you can go straight to the registration process, as you have already titled the car in your name.

    If you have not, then you will need to follow these steps to title the vehicle before you can register it. The applications you'll find in this section can be viewed using the free Adobe Reader.

    Take the following into your local DMV service center:

    • All receipts for major components.
    • A vehicle identification number (VIN) number if you purchased a rolling chassis.
    • A regular and unmodified vehicle registered in your name as your regular form of transportation.
    • The fee for the hobbyist license plates.
    • The vehicle's State Patrol inspection verification.
    • The certificate of title, signed off by the previous owner, if you obtained the body from another vehicle.

    Once the title is clear, you may begin the registration process. You will need the following documents:

    Mail the package to:

    Wisconsin Department of Transportation
    Special Plates Unit
    P.O. Box 7911
    Madison, WI 53707

    Specialty and Personalized Plates

    If you have a homemade, custom, or specialty car, you are required to have the hobbyist specialized license plates for your vehicle. The hobbyist plates never expire, but can be transferred from one vehicle to another as long as all vehicles are owned by the same person. Hobbyist plates cannot be personalized. You can find out more information about hobbyist plates at the custom vehicle registration page of the DMV website.

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