Do super/hyper cars need to go through destructive safety testing?

Do $1 million plus dollar cars need to go through destructive crash tests before they are sold?

Cars like an Aston Martin One-77 of which only 77 were built. Or the Bugatti Veyron or the Koenigsegg One:1.

Plenty of other examples but in the end when do car manufacturers have to submit to government safety regulations and start crash testing their cars (not to mention meeting other regulatory standards such as emissions and so on)?

There may be exceptions, especially in these days of declining budgets and staff in the enforcement end of regulations, but yes - supercars, too, are wrecked to prove crashworthiness and standards compliance.

It should be noted that 1M$ cars likely have a much lower marginal cost than 1M$. Much of that price tag likely comes from the R&D, tooling, facilities and exclusivity-related prestige.

Considering these are small cars designed to be driven at very high speeds, I’d say there’s more need than usual to test their crash capabilities.

As for the cost of wrecking some vehicles in tests, that’s part of what accounts for the half million dollar price tag.

So if I decided to build a car, one of a kind, and sell it I have to build a few more to crash test?

There is a “Show or Display” rule that allows cars to be imported without destructive testing, if it meets certain criteria and usage limitations (e.g. only used for <2,500 miles a year on public roads).

But the Bugatti Veyron, for example, was approved under normal rules, including a crash test.

ETA: that video seems to be from Europe. But (which I think is a US site) seems to have a listing for the Veyron.


The key words there are “car” and “sell.”

It varies from state to state, but in most states you’re allowed to build a ‘custom-constructed vehicle’ like a hot-rod, and license it on a one-off basis as an owner-built vehicle. (The same is true if you take a more or less existing car and cram in a huge engine or whatever - it comes under the same “custom constructed” heading, whatever it’s called in each state.)

If you want to build cars for people, you have to stop at delivering a fully turnkey vehicle. This usually means selling it without an engine or engine/transmission, as are Cobra and Porsche replicas. It’s up to the owner to install a suitable engine and then register his, yep, “custom constructed” vehicle.

But if you’re going to build a car and hand someone the keys, it has to meet pretty much all current-year standards, including proof of crash survivability etc.

I’ve done the custom-constructed vehicle process in two states, one fiendishly difficult and one a matter of filing the right papers.

Are vintage cars grandfathered in?

This pic always brought a tear to my eye.

The key word is “new.” You cannot build a car and sell it to someone as new (I.e. They will be the first title holder) unless you certify it to current model year safety and emissions standards. Vintage cars are used, and assumed to meet the standards in place for the year they were built.
The exception to the rules for new cars is if you build a car and sell it sans something important, like the power train. I can sell you an entirely brand-new car with no engine, tell you where to buy said engine, and as long as you the buyer go get an engine and do the final assembly you can register it as a self-built (“kit”) car. This is how some people have cars like Ariel Atoms and Noble M400s they can plate and drive on the road.

The rules for that changed recently. As long as the manufacturer builds a fairly small number (under about 300 cars per year I think) replica cars can be sold without going through all of the usual approvals. The law was specifically written for low-volume replica type cars so that they wouldn’t have to jump through these types of hoops any more.

Or you can build your supercar the like Mclaren F1. While it sustained damage to the outer shell, it drove away from the 40 MPH crash test.

I’m not sure what you’re saying, or where it applies. Vehicle registration is by state, and each state has its own rules. All states, AFAIK, have a “custom vehicle” loophole for individually crafted vehicles and low-volume production replicas. The rules vary, but in general you cannot manufacture a turnkey vehicle anywhere without meeting current year requirements. You can build a complete “roller,” which any number of Cobra, GT40, and Porsche 356/990 makers do, and sell that for the owner to install an engine (even a completely packaged one), and then it’s a legit “owner-constructed” vehicle.

California does it by issuing only 500 such registrations a year; I had to get in line at 5 am on January 2nd to be sure of getting one. CT does an inspection but is otherwise fairly generous. MA is similar. They pretty much waive all emission and crash requirements and are concerned only that the vehicle can be safely driven on normal roads without endangering others.

I think that engineer_comp_geek is talking about a recent statute that requires the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to exempt certain small-volume manufacturers of replica vehicles from crash standards. Under the same law, the EPA is required to allow those manufacturers to install certain engines meeting certain emissions standards into the cars. See section 24405 of the bill here:

The law applies to manufacturers that produce fewer than 5000 cars per year worldwide (so Ferrari and Porsche are out), sell fewer than 500 per year in the U.S. (I think that knocks out Lamborghini), and only applies to cars that are basically licensed replicas of 25-year-old cars (so Koenigsegg and Pagani are out too). This bill is intended to companies, like Superformance, that make replicas of Cobras or makers of '32 Ford Hot-rods.

Vehicle registration is, as you note, state by state but I’m not aware of any state that imposes safety regulations above those required by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. The NHTSA is required to amend those standards under this statute. I haven’t done a 50-state survey but I’d imagine these cars will pass safety inspections in every state. Because they are new cars, my state wouldn’t even require them to be inspected.

Under federal law, only the federal government and California can set vehicle emissions standards. Other states can either stick with the federal standards, opt for the California standards, or stew silently that they lack the authority to do more.

Ah, okay. I haven’t been active in the craft car field for a while so the news wouldn’t have reached me.

About twenty plus years ago Bill Gates and a friend, probably Paul Allen, wanted to buy some imported super-car but couldn’t because the company selling them refused to crash test one. Gates even suggested doing a computer simulated crash but the authorities still said no.

If it was the Porsche 959, they each got one anyway. Just not registerable/street legal.

This just isn’t your day. You can now import any 25-year-old car without considering whether it complies with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. I think this would cover every Porsche 959 ever made. See question 7 below.

Bill Gates imported his car under another exemption from the FMVSS for the “show and display” of certain technologically significant cars. The NHTSA had a lot of authority under that exemption to approve cars and to impose limitations on their road use but Bill Gates was allowed to register and drive his 959 for up to 2500 miles per year. I’m lazy and don’t feel like finding another cite, so here is Wikipedia.

Plus Bruce Canepa’s business created a new turbocharger system that allowed the 959 to pass all the relevant emissions tests. That was the last piece of the puzzle as the 959 already met crash standards.

Someone was using a 959 as a pit car at the Historics at Laguna Seca a couple of weeks ago. It was glorious.

Too late to add:

See the ‘Canepa’ section.