I'm sitting here several weeks after the late summer events have concluded somewhat pleased and provoked. I'm thinking perhaps our hobby has become too popular. Like California real estate, the prices for vintage tin and custom creations are going through the roof.
For the past several years, the classified sections of various automotive publications have been ripe with vintage cars and trucks for sale. There are for sale signs in 20-25 percent of the entries at NSRA and Goodguys' events, making me both anxious and paranoid. Currently there seems to be too much buying and selling going on.
Everyone it seems looks for a way to save on ever-higher DMV fees. But we suggest that it's dangerous and illegal making false statements to the DMV about the purchase price of any vehicle. And, if the asking price was printed on the vehicle's for sale sign, we've heard rumors that on rare occasions photos have been taken at some events and entered along with vehicle license plate numbers in DMV electronic files.
So, like many hobby, antique, or collector activities, there's money to be made and millions of dollars (so it seems) changing hands without a public record or paper trail when these cars and trucks are sold privately. Most of this commerce proceeds in a legal fashion; it's the 5 percent of illegal transactions that cause problems for the remaining 95 percent of us.
What also bugs the DMV is when a newly built reproduction rod or kit car/truck is built and registered as a vintage vehicle, depriving them of a higher registration fee, not to mention smog test revenue for vehicles that should be equipped with such equipment. Of course, the DMV departments of all states have set up the most complicated rules and, I suspect, unknowingly left a number of creative loopholes for guys to find.
Speaking of registrations, in past discussions, what I feel is a positive may not necessarily be a positive to someone else. It's my opinion that every state should voluntarily appreciate the benefits of saving our automotive cultural heritage, to the extent that there should be vintage vehicle discounts and special plates that recognize our low-mileage hobby cars and trucks, regardless of what value they're appraised for. Some owners argue that we're simply playing into an identity trap and that we'll then be charged extra for these expensive toys by the DMV, and that our insurance rates will reflect what an insurance agent thinks they're worth, raising our premiums sky high.
Speaking of appraisals, some builders have years of sweat equity invested in their vehicles, while some more affluent owners can simply sign a check for a six-figure custom creation. While I can appreciate both approaches, is it fair to charge both owners the same amount for title transfer, licensing, and renewal fees? I'm curious to know how our readers feel. I've heard it said, what's fair and what's honest is not always the same when it comes to owning and insuring vintage vehicles.