I’ve heard horror stories about registering a kit car. Wanting to head them off at the pass, I visited Troop C in Chesterfield, MO to discuss the requirements. I’ve learned so far:
Note: these steps apply to a ground-up build. There are shortcuts available to those using a donor car.
♦ When purchasing your car, SAVE EVERY RECEIPT – you will need it later. Ask for notarized receipts on all major components (Engine and transmission)
♦You need to start with a Form 551 which is available from the Drivers License offices. There is a $50 charge to initiate the form and there is a time limit on it. Don’t apply for it till you are ready to run the gauntlet.
♦ Missouri titles cars based on their appearance. ie, if your kit looks like a 1917 Zephyr, even if it was constructed in 2007, it will still be titled as a 1917 Zephyr Replica. That will help on insurance, emissions and probably a thousand other things I haven’t thought of yet. Your ego will want to use “1965 Shelby Cobra” but that trips the property tax trigger as an original with associated tax base. Better for your pocketbook is “1965 Ford Convertible” or “1965 Ford Roadster”
♦ You can not legally drive your car (or go-cart assembly) on the public roadways without a license or permit. The local licensing offices do have what they call a “Drive Away Tag”. It allows temporary use of the vehicle on public highways BUT
A) it is only good for predetermined travel from Point A to Point B.
B) There is a $25 charge for each permit
C) Check your insurance coverage. Some policies do not cover an unregistered vehicle. Better safe than sorry
♦ When you’re ready to get your vehicle licensed, it will have to be inspected by the local law enforcement. In Saint Louis, it is done by the State Police. You will need to take your car (via trailer or properly endorsed Drive Away tag to the Troop C headquarters. Call for an appointment, it takes about 3 weeks to get in. Bring with you all your receipts. You will need your papers from your kit manufacturer – the vehicle origination form(MSO). You will need notarized receipts for the major components – engine and transmission. In essence, they want to make sure you didn’t steal the car and trying to get a clean title.
Once they’ve done their inspection and approvals, they will endorse the Form 551. HAND-CARRY this and your paperwork to the DMV in Jefferson City. DO NOT MAIL IT! You get the honor of paying sales tax on the vehicle and they will finalize the form to apply a VIN number and title. If there is an error, you can correct it while there. Had you mailed it, it would take 6 or more weeks to wind its way back to you for correction. Your paperwork will be given a tour of all the offices in Jefferson City before it finds its way back to you. I am told this can take upwards of 6 weeks – and you’re chomping at the bit to get your car on the highway.
When the title shows up, you then need to return to the State Police to have a VIN tag affixed to your car. They will pop-rivet a tag to the frame of the vehicle. But wait, you’re not done yet.
Once the car is identified and labeled, now you need to get it mechanically inspected. Since the vehicle is licensed as a 60’s vintage vehicle, you are exempted from emissions testing, but you still have to have it inspected mechanically, just as you do your other vehicles. Any inspection station can do this.
With your title, inspection certificate and checkbook in hand, you can now go to the local licensing office and plunk down even more money to buy your plates.
The worst part of the registration process is the unknown. Read the rules & fine print and you’ll do just fine..