TMCP #501: SEMA’s Colby Martin – What is the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act All About?


Colby Martin SEMA Action Network Director


Colby Martin – Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act

This week I spoke to Colby Martin of the SEMA Action Network to get all of the nitty gritty details on the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act. The news of the act finally being able to move forward after 7 long years of it becoming law has been huge! Specifically, it now means that a licensed replica vehicle manufacturer can build up to 325 replica “classic” cars per year! Unlike current replica and “kit” cars, the customer can purchase it fully completed (running/driving) and register it in their own state accordingly. It’ll look and feel just like the original, but there is one catch; it has to be emissions compliant with “modern standards!” Clear as mud, right? Colby was here to sort out the minutia of it all.

Colby grew up in car crazy southern California not far from Pomona race track. Sometimes his dad would get him out of school to go hang out and watch the races and the smell of high octane fuel and burning rubber became embedded in his memories. He also watched the car culture movies and TV shows we all love, and this gave him an appreciation of classic hot rods and muscle cars. When he went to college he applied for a SEMA scholarship and many years later he is loving his work for the venerable automotive organization.

The history of what became the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act is interesting. As Colby shared, the genesis desire to produce a full car came those just looking to restore cars initially. Even back into the 50’s and 60’s Car fanatics have been able to build kit cars or completely restore vehicles that they wanted to drive. This has created a market with enough parts to actually recreate complete vehicles. The next logical step would be to empower companies to use these parts to professionally assemble and sell complete vehicles from new parts. That idea was the spark to start the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act to allow them to do just that.

Obviously, the actual process of proposing a new law like this required going directly to the federal level. SEMA’s legal team knew best way to get their relatively tiny bill included was to attach it to a much larger bill, in this case the FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation). While the act became law in 2015, it didn’t define the path forward for manufacturers specifically. That duty was assigned to the NHTSA to do. Unfortunately, the NHTSA took so long to actually do anything with it that SEMA was forced to sue them over it just to get the ball rolling.

So with that established, Colby was able to fill in the details on the regulations a replica manufacturer will need to comply with to start making vehicles. The rules include some things like emissions compliance, how many vehicles can be produced, and titling requirements. Colby also pointed out that these vehicles could exported or imported now that the law has been passed. The emissions compliance requirements themselves are the most important parts to identify at the moment as that’s the only area that isn’t completely clear on how a manufacturer can comply.

You can find out more about the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act at the SEMA Action Network (SAN) website. You can also support SEMA and their efforts to protect our hobby by becoming a SEMA Individual Member at

Thanks Colby!

-Rob Kibbe

This interview sponsored by our pals at National Parts Depot – your premier source for muscle car restoration parts!


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