Kansas lawmakers have passed SEMA-supported H.B. 2594, which “[exempts] certain modifications on antique vehicles from vehicle identification number offense seizures and dispositions,” the organization announced.
The new legislation is “a critical step forward in protecting the rights of restorers and owners of classic vehicles in the state,” according to SEMA officials.
The catalyst for the legislation came from an automotive enthusiast in Kansas who purchased a 1959 Corvette convertible from a dealership in Indiana in 2017, SEMA said. When he tried to register the car in Kansas, the Kansas Highway Patrol seized it as “contraband.” According to Kansas state law at the time, the Corvette must be crushed and has been sitting in a Topeka impound lot ever since, while the owner pleads his case in the state court system.
Under the previous Kansas law, police were required to seize and destroy any car on which the vehicle identification number (VIN) “has been destroyed, removed, altered or defaced.” There was no exception for a car lawfully purchased by someone who had no reason to be aware of its VIN issues. In the case of this 1959 Corvette, the dashboard VIN plate had been removed years ago during the car’s restoration and reapplied with new rivets, the owner said.
Upon learning of the case in late 2021, SEMA worked with Kansas Rep. Leo Delperdang to introduce H.B. 2594, the organization said. The new law protects restorers and owners of classic vehicles while not impeding law enforcement from carrying out their duties.
The new law clarifies that a VIN may be removed from an antique vehicle “if the removal and reinstallation are reasonably necessary for repair or restoration unless the person knows or has reason to know that the antique vehicle is stolen.”
The bill cleared both the Kansas House and Senate unanimously and has now been signed into law by Gov. Laura Kelly.
In response, SEMA has been evaluating other states’ language to help ensure this severe incident remains an isolated occurrence, the organization said, and seeks to add clarification to similar existing laws to protect classic car restorers and owners.
In Arizona, SEMA-supported legislation (H.B. 2480) has been introduced to allow complete restoration of pre-1981 vehicles, including temporary removal of the VIN when necessary. H.B. 2480 changes existing law to allow the removal and reinstallation of a VIN on pre-1981 vehicles if reasonably necessary for repair or restoration. Prior to the new bill, enthusiasts who intentionally removed or altered a VIN, regardless of reason or vehicle model year, were guilty of a felony.
The Arizona bill passed the legislature and awaits approval or veto by Gov. Doug Ducey.