All of us knew it was a matter of time. As far back as the '70s, hot rodders and legislators were headed toward a collision course over hot rod titling and registration. Many of us knew it was coming while others choose to "temporally" ignore the subject. STREET RODDER will feature this month the first of several articles that will deal with hot rod registration in both broad and specific strokes.

Starting next month, STREET RODDER will address the specifics of each of the following subjects: the current 2010 California amnesty program, registering hot rods under SB-100 (Calif. VC 4750.1), registering hot rods under the Special Construction Vehicle (SVC) law, and the tried-and-true method: "It's nothing more than a used car so why do I need to do anything?" approach.

As part of this series we will try our hand at re-registering a hot rod through the amnesty program, register a car under SB-100, and install one of the new GM Performance Parts E-ROD powerplants. There is a wealth of information rodders from all states can glean from the series of articles, not just California rodders. A number of states already have registration laws that treat rodders fairly, and that's a good thing.

While states handle hot rod registration differently there's a basic covenant between the state and the rodder. The state takes it on good faith that hot rodders are building cars with legally purchased (or obtained) components, owners are declaring appropriate values (for tax and registration fee purposes), and in California comply with specified emission standards. In the past rodders were not always forthcoming with correct data when registering their hot rods. Conversely, the State of California never made it easy on rodders to register these cars and the state had little accurate information available at their DMV sites to help rodders who wished to follow the law. So who was to blame? Talk to officials from the State of California, and it's the hot rodders. Talk to hot rodders, and it's the state.

To say that hot rods and the Department of Motor Vehicles have "enjoyed" a live and let live existence would be an understatement, but that's exactly what has happened-in all states. What could now be called a "fire storm" began on Wednesday Oct. 6, 2004. On that afternoon, 22 law enforcement agents and other individuals from the State of California, Department of Justice Fraud Division, Department of Motor Vehicles, California Highway Patrol, Bureau of Automotive Repair, and others arrived with guns drawn (yep, six-shooters in hand) and flak vests on-at the then shop of Boyd Coddington Hot Rods & Collectibles in La Habra, California

The surreal scene would have been funny if it hadn't been so serious. This wasn't the filming of an episode of American Hotrod but rather the real deal of serving a warrant to Boyd Coddington on the suspicion of fraud. Over the previous decades there had been "uprisings" here and there but nothing, absolutely nothing matched the intensity and seriousness of this latest event. [I remember standing at Boyd's shop within an hour of the occurrence wondering if this would be the end of hot rodding as I knew it.

Boyd's shop was clearly the most visible and that is why he was the first to be "approached." The State of California visited a number of shops throughout the state as they were looking for cars that met one or more of the criteria that would lead to registration or license fee fraud. Mind you, while this is all occurring in California the fact remains, all states function under the premise that hot rodders are being honest.

In researching for the web-published story and subsequent registration articles for STREET RODDER, we had the opportunity to exchange a series of emails with Robert Morgester, the deputy attorney general, special crimes unit, for the State of California Department of Justice. According to Morgester, "The California attorney general's office has been conducting an investigation into the fraudulent registration of replica vehicles. The initial investigation was limited to Cobra-replica vehicles due to known VIN sequences. We are aware that the same fraudulent vehicle registration issues apply to other replica vehicles and hot rods." According to Deputy Attorney General Morgester, he wanted to make sure California hot rodders understand that to correct a common misunderstanding of California law, it's a felony to do the following:

1. Register a vehicle where the year of vehicle is misrepresented
2. Register a vehicle where the value of the vehicle is understated
3. Register a vehicle where the year of the vehicle is misrepresented to avoid compliance with California smog laws"Any of the above actions are a felony in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 4463(a). Additionally, the above actions constitute the crime of perjury, in that all statement of facts contained in California DMV documents are taken under penalty of perjury." And this is where it gets "uncomfortable" for many hot rodders-again, regardless of what state you live.