Hart's Crash Won't Be Changing California Classic Car Laws

by Michael Satterfield

Kevin Hart's 1970 Plymouth Barracuda was a restomod dream machine, in fact, it was slated to be featured at the 2019 SEMA show in November hosted in the Motul oil booth. But this wasn't just your average custom. Hart's Cuda debuted at the 2016 SEMA show, built by SpeedKore a company that is known for their heavily modified carbon fiber versions classic muscle cars. Powered by a modern Dodge Challenger Demon drivetrain, the car had custom suspension and a handcrafted interior. To put it mildly, there wasn't much of the original Cuda left, a fact which has piqued the interest of the California Highway Patrol (CHP). Hart reportedly fractured his spine in three places and had to undergo immediate surgery but is expected to make a full recovery.

Multiple sources including TMZ have reported that the CHP is planning to do a thorough mechanical inspection of the car which will take a few weeks. This isn't out of the ordinary in major accidents, but what has many in the automotive aftermarket is the scrutiny of the customization and statements which seem that the CHP would be pushing legislation to require restoration shops to install modern safety equipment in classic cars. While many aren't worried about proposed changes, those of us who watch automotive policy closely know this could have a major impact on the restoration industry and that many state governments are passing more restrictions on classic and specialty cars.

Law enforcement sources told TMZ that the CHP may recommend new laws that would require companies who restore or customize classic cars that will be registered and sold in the state of California to at a minimum have updated seatbelts. Kevin's Barracuda only had lap belts. Sources at the CHP also told TMZ that they are concerned about if the car was rebuilt correctly. A CHP representative confirmed that to Entertainment Tonight that there is no criminal investigation at this time and that the inspection will not mean stripping the car completely as some have reported.

Instead of just taking anomouse police sources, I reached out to California Assemblyman Jim Frazier, Chair of the State's Transportation Committee for comment.


We are in the last week of the legislative session and there are no bills pending before my committee or this Legislature regarding the safety of custom built or classic cars. I generally defer to the California Highway Patrol on road safety, and if such a bill were to be introduced next year my committee would seek their input on such legislation. I have no reason to believe at this time that such legislation will be introduced.

 It looks like for now, classics are safe in the State of California.



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6 Comments

  1. This is nothing but TMZ click bait bull shit

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  2. I dont see why.
    The car is custom.
    Improve driver education instead.

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  3. I see it as the car owners risk and responsibility, the car restorers should not be held liable. If the car owner runs out of gas will it be the responsibility of the car restorers to provide the extra gas?

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  4. Cause for concern, absolutely. I guess we'll have to keep an eye on anything that might come out of this.

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  5. This is a prime instance of where classic car owners need to join together to say that this was just one instance and one bad apple does not constitute heavier regulations for all of the good apples

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  6. posting this to my Automotive ends ....see what sort of responses I get

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