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California Definitions of vehicles : Collector : Historic Interest

Sean Morris Posted on May 8, 2021

Collector cars and special interest cars in California

There are many terms that are used, but are not often defined or understood. Some of them people assume they know what something means, but they don't.  Legally speaking, its very important to know and understand terms when it comes down to things like vehicles. Many times you have to know more about the terms, than the people trying to hold you to some law, they don't even understand. 

A few people have asked what a collector car, or special interest vehicle is. Here it is defined in the Calfornia vehicle code.  Currently this designation does not exempt you from any emissions requirements, unless the vehicle itself meets one of the requirements for exemption. There was a time when some cars with Historic license plates were understood to be smog testing exempt, but that time has passed.   Generally speaking a gasoline powered car needs to be 1975 or older to be emissions exempt. 

We always said that most regulations are like the worst chose your own adventure book ever, as you have to skip around to different sections, different books, different codes to understand what is written.  Not all terms and definitions are the same across multiple different agencies, times, and documentation. 

Collector motor vehicle -  “Collector motor vehicle” means a motor vehicle owned by a collector and the motor vehicle is used primarily in shows, parades, charitable functions, and historical exhibitions for display, maintenance, and preservation, and is not used primarily for transportation.

Collector - “Collector” is the owner of one or more vehicles described in Section 5004 or of one or more special interest vehicles, as defined in this article, who collects, purchases, acquires, trades, or disposes of the vehicle, or parts thereof, for his or her own use, in order to preserve, restore, and maintain the vehicle for hobby or historical purposes.

Section 5004 - (3) A vehicle which was manufactured after 1922, is at least 25 years old, and is of historic interest.

Historic Interest - a vehicle is of historic interest if it is collected, restored, maintained, and operated by a collector or hobbyist principally for purposes of exhibition and historic vehicle club activities.

So more or less what that all means, is if the car is over 25 years old, isn't your primary means of transportation, its interesting to people, you take it to car shows or events, then its of historic interest, a collector car, and you are a collector. 

R32 GT-R at Laguna Seca R's Day Toprank Importers

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codesTOCSelected.xhtml?tocCode=VEH

 “Collector motor vehicle” means a motor vehicle owned by a collector, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 5051, and the motor vehicle is used primarily in shows, parades, charitable functions, and historical exhibitions for display, maintenance, and preservation, and is not used primarily for transportation.

(Added by Stats. 2004, Ch. 107, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2005.)

ARTICLE 8.3. Historic and Special Interest Vehicles [5050 - 5052]

5050.  

The Legislature finds and declares that constructive leisure pursuits by California citizens is most important. This article is intended to encourage responsible participation in the hobby of collecting, preserving, restoring, and maintaining motor vehicles of historic and special interest, which hobby contributes to the enjoyment of the citizen and the preservation of California’s automotive memorabilia.

(Added by Stats. 1975, Ch. 753.)

5051. 

As used in this article, unless the context otherwise requires:

(a) “Collector” is the owner of one or more vehicles described in Section 5004 or of one or more special interest vehicles, as defined in this article, who collects, purchases, acquires, trades, or disposes of the vehicle, or parts thereof, for his or her own use, in order to preserve, restore, and maintain the vehicle for hobby or historical purposes.

(b) “Special interest vehicle” is a vehicle of an age that is unaltered from the manufacturer’s original specifications and, because of its significance, including, but not limited to, an out-of-production vehicle or a model of less than 2,000 sold in California in a model-year, is collected, preserved, restored, or maintained by a hobbyist as a leisure pursuit.

(c) “Parts car” is a motor vehicle that is owned by a collector to furnish parts for restoration or maintenance of a special interest vehicle or a vehicle described in Section 5004, thus enabling a collector to preserve, restore, and maintain a special interest vehicle or a vehicle described in Section 5004.

(d) “Street rod vehicle” is a motor vehicle, other than a motorcycle, manufactured in, or prior to, 1948 that is individually modified in its body style or design, including through the use of nonoriginal or reproduction components, and may include additional modifications to other components, including, but not limited to, the engine, drivetrain, suspension, and brakes in a manner that does not adversely affect its safe performance as a motor vehicle or render it unlawful for highway use.

(Amended by Stats. 2006, Ch. 574, Sec. 6. Effective January 1, 2007.)

5004.

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, any owner of a vehicle described in paragraph (1), (2), or (3) which is operated or moved over the highway primarily for the purpose of historical exhibition or other similar purpose shall, upon application in the manner and at the time prescribed by the department, be issued special identification plates for the vehicle:

(1) A motor vehicle with an engine of 16 or more cylinders manufactured prior to 1965.

(2) A motor vehicle manufactured in the year 1922 or prior thereto.

(3) A vehicle which was manufactured after 1922, is at least 25 years old, and is of historic interest.

(b) The special identification plates assigned to motor vehicles with an engine of 16 or more cylinders manufactured prior to 1965 and to any motor vehicle manufactured in the year 1922 and prior thereto shall run in a separate numerical series, commencing with “Horseless Carriage No. 1”.

The special identification plates assigned to vehicles specified in paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) shall run in a separate numerical series, commencing with “Historical Vehicle No. 1”.

Each series of plates shall have different and distinguishing colors.

(c) A fee of twenty-five dollars ($25) shall be charged for the initial issuance of the special identification plates. Such plates shall be permanent and shall not be required to be replaced. If such special identification plates become damaged or unserviceable in any manner, replacement for the plates may be obtained from the department upon proper application and upon payment of such fee as is provided for in Section 9265.

(d) All funds received by the department in payment for such identification plates or the replacement thereof shall be deposited in the California Environmental License Plate Fund.

(e) These vehicles shall not be exempt from the equipment provisions of Sections 26709, 27150, and 27600.

(f) As used in this section, a vehicle is of historic interest if it is collected, restored, maintained, and operated by a collector or hobbyist principally for purposes of exhibition and historic vehicle club activities.

(Amended by Stats. 1984, Ch. 918, Sec. 1.)

 

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