Vehicle Industry Registration Procedures Manual

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Section 8 of 38

Chapter 7: Miscellaneous Originals

7.090 Specially Constructed Vehicles (VC §§580 and 4153)

A specially constructed vehicle (SPCNS) is a vehicle built for private use, not for resale, and not constructed by a licensed manufacturer or remanufacturer.

  • Specially constructed vehicles may be built from a kit, new or used parts, a combination of new and used parts, or from a vehicle reported as dismantled, as required by VC §§5500 or 11520 which, when reconstructed, does not resemble the original make and model of the vehicle that was dismantled.
  • A specially constructed vehicle does not include a vehicle which has been repaired or restored to its original design by replacing parts or modified from its original design, but not completely assembled from parts, which is still recognizable as the original make.
    • Example #1-A Volkswagen modified with a conversion kit to give the appearance of having the grill of a Rolls Royce is not registered as a specially constructed vehicle, because it still resembles and would be recognized as a Volkswagen.
      This also applies to a Volkswagen modified with a “Baja Kit” in which the fenders, engine compartment lid, and possibly the front end, are modified, but leave the vehicle still recognizable as a Volkswagen.
    • Example #2-A motorcycle, such as a Harley Davidson, modified only with extended forks but still recognizable as a Harley Davidson is not registered as a SPCNS.
      However, if a motorcycle is constructed entirely from parts, even if they are Harley Davidson parts, the vehicle cannot be registered as a Harley Davidson since it was not constructed by a manufacturer or remanufacturer; it must be registered as a SPCNS.
    • Example #3-Vehicles that are modified by a body change only, when the Certificate of Title held by the owner shows the correct make, is not registered as a SPCNS.
  • All specially constructed (SPCNS) motor vehicles and SPCNS trailers weighing 6001 pounds or more unladen must be referred to the California Highway Patrol (CHP) for inspection and determination of, or assignment of a VIN.
    • SPCNS trailers weighing less than 6001 pounds, except logging dollies, are assigned a VIN by the DMV unless the original unaltered VIN is on the frame.

Smog Certification

The first smog certification for a SPCNS vehicle must be issued by a Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) Referee Center.

  • Once the vehicle is certified by the referee, a BAR label will be affixed to the vehicle.
  • Any licensed Smog Check station may perform subsequent inspections as long as the BAR label remains in place and the vehicle’s emissions equipment remains the same.

SPCNS Registration Requirements

  • Application for Title or Registration (REG 343) or an alternative, completed and signed.
    • Power-of-attorney may be used for the signatures of the registered owner.
    • The cost information must include the materials and labor costs, even if provided by or done by the applicant. No year model is shown.
  • Vehicle Verification (REG 31/REG 343), only if the application is a trailer and the original trailer VIN is on the frame; or the completed REG 124 from CHP or DMV, if the vehicle is other than a trailer.
  • Statement of Construction (REG 5036) completed by the owner. The total value of the vehicle as shown in Section 5, Cost Information and Vehicle Value, must agree with the cost information shown on the REG 343.
  • Bills of Sale, receipts, and invoices for all major component parts (body, frame, transmission, and engine).
    • A Manufacture’s Certificate/Statement of Origin is only acceptable as proof of ownership for the part(s) described.
    • A junk receipt issued by DMV may also be submitted for the major component parts.
  • Satisfactory evidence of ownership for the materials used in constructing the vehicle must be submitted as part of the application.
  • Motor Vehicle Ownership Surety Bond (REG 5057) or alternative, if the vehicle is built from either:
    • An altered vehicle, or component parts of such a vehicle, registered or formerly registered in California or any state, or
    • Materials not previously part of another vehicle to which a VIN plate is issued.

The penal sum of the bond (the dollar amount that the surety is liable for under the bond) must be equal to the amount of the fair market value of the vehicle, including parts and labor.

A Motor Vehicle Bond is not required if the documents submitted as evidence of the ownership identify:

  • A verified VIN on the vehicle or the value of the completed vehicle, or
  • Component parts (body, frame, transmission, and engine) for which bills of sale cannot be obtained, is $4,999 or less.

See Chapter 23, Bonds and Certifications, for additional information regarding bonds.

  • Official brake and light adjustment certificates.
    • When an official brake and light station that inspects specific vehicles, such as motorcycles and large commercial vehicles, is not located within a reasonable distance, a Statement of Facts (REG 256) from a repair shop attesting that the brakes and lights are in proper working order, is acceptable.
    • Brake and light certificates are not required for trailers weighing under 3,000 pounds gross vehicle weight.

Fleet owners who operate a licensed inspection and maintenance station may submit official brake and light adjustment certificates from that station for a motor truck with three or more axles and an unladen weight of more than 6,000 pounds, or for a truck tractor.

  • Weight certificate for a commercial vehicle weighing less than 10,001 pounds.
    • If the vehicle weighs 10,001 pounds or more, or if the vehicle is a trailer in the PTI program, the estimated unladen weight is required and must be shown on a Statement of Facts (REG 256).
  • Declaration of Gross Vehicle Weight/Combined Gross Vehicle Weight (REG 4008) completed and signed by the owner for a commercial vehicle weighing 6,001 pounds or more unladen. (Not required for pickups).
  • Smog certification, if appropriate, or a Certificate of Sequence and BAR referee datasheet, if applicable.
  • All fees due. Use tax is not due if the owner who constructed the vehicle is registering the vehicle in their name.