How I titled my car as a "Lotus 7 Replica"
(Complete with an Antique tag!)

Latest update:  12/7/12

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Background:

Each (USA) state has different requirements for titling your creation. Florida is now one of the more friendly states in regard to titling our cars. Part of this is due to the efforts of SEMA.  SEMA has a list of states and their definitions of the various classes of cars here.  But you also need to look up the specific statutes in your state or country.

Before July 2007, Florida didn't seem to have a easy path to getting our replica cars titled. After July 2007 Fla. Statute 320.0863 (link) was updated and the wording was clarified so that our Locosts (Lotus Replicas) now fit into a defined area as a "Custom vehicle" as per 320.0863 (1) (b).

In addition, the title application form that the DMV used then had a selection for "Replica" and another selection for the body style as "Roadster".

[Edit 9/27/11]  Since this article was written Florida has -again- changed the details and added explicit forms that help you apply for a title.  See http://www.locostusa.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=37&t=2382  for details.  Scroll down the first page to

He hasn't been able to get his car titled as a replica because the statute was changed such that a replica has to be built by a registered manufacturer. The only way he can get a title is as ASPT (assembled from parts).  I feel that a ASPT title has the stigma that the car is just something assembled from [junk] parts and does not represent the amount of work put into a Locost.

In 2011 I checked the then current version of 320.0863(1),(b)  and the wording concerning a Replica car had been removed.  In addition at that time Florida was interpreting the word "manufactured" as NOT being built by a home builder.  I'd now try for a Custom Car title rather than a ASPT title if they still want a business to have built the replica.



Wording in the Florida Statute that is applicable to titling a Locost 7:  (This information was current in late 2011.)

The exact paragraph that Locosts fit into is;  (As of 9/27/2011)
320.0863(1),(b) "Custom vehicle" means a motor vehicle that:

    1.  ............. or was manufactured to resemble a vehicle that is 25 years old or older and of a model year after 1948; and
    2.  Has been modified from the manufactures original design or has a body constructed from non original materials.

When applying for a title they asked me about the "number of doors" I just smiled and said "doors?" (While thinking, "I don't need no steenking doors!") I did explain that the car at the "door" area is only 18" above the ground and that Lotus 7s never had doors (or many other creature comforts).

Two other side benefits to having a "Custom vehicle" in Florida is that you only have to meet the safety requirements that were in affect for the year that the original car  was manufacutred.  You will need seat belts in Florida though.

The last time Florida had emission testing, cars built before 1976 were exempt from the tests anyway.

Note:  In Florida the state Statues concerned with titling etc is under "Title XXIII, Chapter 319 (TITLE CERTIFICATES)"



What paper work you need to title a car, general:

When I first called the DMV and asked what paperwork I needed to get my car titled they said, "make two copies of whatever you want to present". Well that wasn't too descriptive but I knew that they want to see (and keep) receipts for all the major parts like the engine, the drive line components, frame etc. The DMV will keep the original receipts etc and one copy.

With the new rules there are now standard forms that you fill out. (Again, see Tim Taylor's post on LocostUSA to get you started.)

All the paper work is to basically build a paper trail of where all these parts came from that ended up on your car. They are also looking to make sure that none of the parts are stolen. For instance, in the case of the engine, you need a receipt that has the serial number of the engine, the VIN number of the car/motorcycle that the engine came from and a brief description of the engine. You should get a bill of sale for the major parts of the drive train (engine, transmission and rear end).

You can be sure that the DMV inspector WILL check the serial number on the engine when they inspect your car and it better match your paper work.



Kit car:

If you buy a kit from a manufacture make sure that you get a quote and later an invoice that lists ALL the major parts that they are going to deliver to you. If the car is a "kit" that includes a chassis,  a "roller" or a "turnkey" make absolutely sure you get a proper MCO (Manufacturers Certificate of Origin) for it in your name. This tells the DMV that this is an original manufactured vehicle that has never been titled. Keep receipts for any major parts you buy to complete the car. 

If you want to try to have your car titled as a Lotus 7 replica make sure your invoice and MCO has "Lotus 7 replica" written somewhere on the form(s). My MCO had "CMC7" on it and the DMV person said that didn't prove that the car was a replica of a Lotus 7. I replied that the manufacture couldn't call it a "Lotus 7" because of copyright laws.



Built from scratch or ASPT, "Assembled from parts"

If you are going to build the car from scratch using a complete donor car, titling your Locost as a new car could get tricky since you rightfully should have a title for the donor. Some states may just want to re-title your Locost as a "rebuilt" or a "re-bodied" vehicle. On the other hand, this may be the only way you can get a Locost titled in some states.

When talking to the DMV people, make a point of saying that you are building the frame/chassis from scratch and you will have bills of sale for all the materials used. Also tell them that you are only going to use the engine/transmission and "other minor parts" from the original titled car. Basically you are scrapping the car for parts. The original car is not going to exist when you are finished. Since the laws may have been revised after I write this it would be best if you look at the latest versions and then talk to your local DMV office inspector.

If you buy the major parts individually you must get bills of sale, serial numbers etc and keep the paper work for the DMV. In addition to the major parts, keep receipts for the raw metal that you make the frame out of, the welding supplies that you use etc. This will provide the paper trail that the car started as individual parts and was built to be a car when finished.

Here is a link to the Florida Statute 319.30 that is concerned with junk or scrapped vehicles.



Trials and tribulations of getting my car titled:

Stage 1, March 2007:
When I was first titling my car, the DMV people wouldn't accept my CMC MCO because the information wasn't organized in the same manner as the major car companies use on their MCOs. Also since I bought the car from the person who the MCO was originally made out to, it wasn't in my name.

The DMV people said that a MCO normally has a section on the back where the MCO can be transfered to another person if the chassis etc was resold before it was titled. My MCO was blank on the back, so they basically disallowed the MCO as proof that the car was indeed of new manufacture even though I had the original CMC invoice that showed that the car was custom built by them and used new parts for the chassis etc. Such are the mysteries how government works.

After several weeks of driving back and forth to the DMV office and presenting more paper work, my car was finally titled as "ASPT" (assembled from parts) mainly because I did have the CMC invoice that showed that CMC installed those parts on a new chassis that they built. I kept insisting that the car was a "replica" and a "roller" that was manufactured to look like a Lotus 7, Series 2 but that information fell on deaf ears as they had no way to accommodate the paper work to the statutes as then written.

I must add that the DMV people were trying to help me through the titling process but for some reason the way they were reading the rules nothing was happening to get it done for awhile. At one point they even suggested that the original owner come 900 miles to their office and HE could get the car inspected and after he got a Florida title he could sell the car to me even though he didn't live in Florida and I had presented the DMV with a bill of sale that I had already bought the car.  It -was- just a suggestion of course.

At that point they suggested that I title the car as ASPT, which I did.  I just felt lucky to have the car titled and licensed.

Two months after my titling ordeal, the revised version of the statute was signed into law. I decided to wait until my tag was up for renewal to see if I could get the title "corrected" to truly reflect what my car was.



Stage 2, March 2008:
After dealing with government entities in my business life I've found that the way to get things done is to study the rules/laws and make the job of the government people as easy as possible. Especially so after my first attempt to get my car titled as a replica.

Many times they aren't sure of the wording/meaning of the statutes and a little nudging in reading the rules to favor what you want to happen will work. If you go in and don't have a good understanding of how the rules can favor you then all sorts of obstructions can appear in your path to getting a proper title. i.e. a title that states that you have a "196x Lotus 7 Replica".

When my normal tag on Locouki was up for renewal, I went back to the local DMV office armed with the new Fla Statute 320.0863 information and my copy of "Lotus Seven" a history/restoration/maintenance book by Tony Weale. By then the DMV people knew me and actually were asking me where I found the rules and how I thought they applied to my car. Apparently I was one of the first applicants to have a title changed under the new replica rules at that office.

I decided that I needed to prove that my car was a Lotus replica by presenting pictures of real Lotus 7s from my restoration book. I pointed out the similarities between my car and the 1963 Lotus 7, Series 2 etc. They quickly agreed that my car was indeed a replica and three business days later I picked up my new "corrected" title.

I now have a "1963 Lotu (DMV speak for "Lotus") Roadster Replica". That seems to be as close as they can get to a Lotus 7.  I kept trying to get the "7" included as the model of the Lotus but there is no place on the title application form for the "Model" to be entered even though the title itself has a "Model" block which isn't filled in. Such is the way government software is written.

Since my car is now a 1963 I was allowed to buy an Antique license tag ($7.50/yr plus additional "fees" for a total of ~$15/yr).  I now drive a genuine "Antique 1963 Lotu Roadster Replica"!    :-)

That's much better than ASPT (assembled from JUNK)! Here's hoping you get your car titled the first go around.

[Edit: 9/16/2011]
For the latest forms, information etc click on this link to the LocostUSA.com  forum.


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