Maryland emissions bill targets historic vehicles

In Maryland, registered historic vehicles less than 40 years old are presently exempt from periodic emissions inspections. Maryland’s House Bill 1258 seeks to amend that provision and reinstate emissions testing on such vehicles.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2020/02/21/maryland-emissions-bill-targets-historic-vehicles
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Their concern has probably become, once again, those vehicles that are new enough to be driven daily but that arent really historic in the collector sense. They ran into this problem when they safety inspection that is required at time of title transfer in most cases was not required for any historic vehicle. Suddenly, mid 90s economy beaters and other poorly maintained main stream vehicles that wouldn’t pass the stringent inspection, were being driven daily on historic tags. This placed an burden on the police to enforce it…but it was difficult and time consuming to prove someone wasnt using the historic registration as intended. So they rolled state inspections back to be required on any vehicle newer than 1986 regardless of registration. Considering the difficulty of sourcing emissions components, and having dealt with trying to bring vehicles into compliance for state inspection purposes (theres an emissions equipment portion on that), I think it would be very unfair to now require compliance and testing. The equipment is already required to be present 1986 and newer…now it has to function properly. Furthermore, the state got rid of its advanced testing facility equipment for tailpipe emissions, merely doing an idle test i believe on older non-obd2 vehicles; which is not comprehensive enough to make a difference.

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This article is a little off. I just went through registering a 1979 vehicle. Passenger cars built before 1996 no longer require emission testing regardless of how it is registered. I choose to register with regular (not historic) tags and I am exempt from testing. I asked the MD VEIP administrators and have this in writing in case there is ever an issue.

I think that’s what they’re trying to change. Its 1996 because of obd2 testing. I may have been incorrect about tailpipe idle testing.

Isn’t the solution to this just setting a mileage cap and a drive through or similar check every year? Then, there will be no concern of whether cars are being used as transportation or as collectibles.

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I think anything newer than 1980 isn’t really historic.


Whoever said they require inspections on 1986 and newer Historic vehicles, this is not true, they changed it at the last minute. 1986 and newer vehicles are now simply subject to repair orders.

I can’t speak to the Maryland experience directly, but these things often appear as a misdirection of intentions.

I live in a rust belt area… very few cars get daily used that are 20+ years old (and the ones that are generally look so bad the police would have reason to pull them over to check safety anyways). A moving window of “20 years or newer gets an annual inspection” meets all the needs of an environmental-aimed rule.

Anything going after 20+ year old vehicles (which amount to minimal emissions due to the real-world limited miles they get used) is just a tax grab and/or vexation towards the hobby.

Fight it Maryland.

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You are talking about the current law which says that vehicles older than 25 years do not require emissions inspections. The proposed bill will change that to 40 years. The article is accurate!

The following letter was sent to Del. Kumar Barve, Chair of the Environment and Transportation Committee and one of the representatives from my district in Maryland:

I am asking that you oppose H.B. 1258, the bill that would change the exemption of periodic inspection of cars that are designated as a “historic motor vehicle” to 40 years.

In recent years, Maryland has changed how it performs emissions checks. That standard changed from taking active readings with a tailpipe probe to a lesser idle reading and relying on the data from the vehicle’s OBD-II connector. Thus, the emissions test requires vehicles to be capable of accessing the on-board diagnostics using the OBD-II standard port. OBD-II was not mandatory until 1996. If the vehicle as OBD capabilities and were manufactured before 1996, the emission testing equipment will not be able to perform the tests. Passing this bill will require the VEIP to upgrade their equipment to test a few vehicles.

To quantify the costs, ask the MVA for the number of vehicles registered that were manufactured between 1980 and 1995. It would be surprising if that number were higher than 5-percent of all registered vehicles. How much will have to be appropriated for VEIP to test that small of a percentage of vehicles?

Finally, the bill fails to recognize the restrictions already placed on these vehicles. According to the current law (Maryland Transportation Code §13-936), “[a] vehicle registered as historic cannot be used for general daily transportation, or primarily for the transportation of passengers or property on highways. It can only be used in exhibitions, club activities, parades, tours, occasional transportation and similar uses,” as summarized by the MVA. (http://www.mva.maryland.gov/about-mva/info/27300/27300-28T.htm#historic)

Following the passage of stricter usage laws in 2018, many jurisdictions have increased enforcement. The result is that the number of miles driven is far less than the percentage of the number of vehicles on the road, making these vehicles a minor risk for any enforcement action.

As Chair of the Environment and Transportation Committee, my representative from District 17, and a historic motor vehicle owner, I ask that you not support this bill.


C’mon people! There is a difference between historic, significant, important or JUST OLD, and you know it. My house may be old, but it isn’t historic, and, most likely, neither is yours. Even a modest number of old beaters on the road, and used daily can muck up the air. An old beater owner’s rights should stop at everyone else’s nose.

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^I don’t disagree with the spirit of most of your points.

But I think wide-spread programs to catch a couple of beaters are not cost-effective or really about what they say they are about.

Today’s online auto listings for a city of 100 000 near me:
2014 173 vehicles.
2009 117 vehicles.
1999 20 vehicles. [4 SUV/van, 5 cars, 7 trucks, 2 sporty, 2 parts]
1994 7 vehicles [2 SUV/Van, 1 car, 1 truck, 1 sporty, 2 parts]
1989 3 vehicles [1 car, 2 parts]
1970-1988 total 16 [1 SUV/van, 2 cars, 5 trucks, 6 sporty, 2 parts]

So (of the vehicles for sale) by 20 years there’s only a handful that might get used a lot and be a beater. By 30 years it will be hit and miss for a given year if there is anything, but when you look at the combined 18 years (70-88) you now have way more representation in the sporty cars and of the others most would consider collectible (i.e., the 70s trucks) rather than daily beaters.

The cars in use on the road is an upside-down pyramid where the 20 year mark is well on the way to being the fine point of insignificant numbers.

However, the collector cars is the opposite kind of pyramid where low-use vehicles become more common as they get older (only a few drivers of the large number of new cars can low mile a new car). By 30 years old collectors are the larger ownership group of that cohort of vehicles rather than A to B daily drivers.


Good points, a 1996 is just an old car, no matter how exotic or mundane a model it happens to be.

A 1980 vehicle that is subject to 1980 emission standards is no big deal they can’t expect then to match current standards. Here in NC they just look to see if the original emission equipment is still there on anything 35 years old or newer. If you have modified your 1980 or newer vehicle you may have to make some alterations.

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You raise a good point, and I agree that anything made after 1980 hardly qualifies as historic. But it causes me to wonder how do you classify an interesting car that was produced after 1980?
I have 1990 Audi CQ, it’s a well preserved original car that gets driven to the local Cars and coffee or when I need to drive something different for any one of a number of reasons. I’ll be the first to admit it’s not historic, just interesting.

I’ve seen plenty of cars on the road in Maryland that are clearly taking advantage of the lax policies on historic registration. In many cases they are rust buckets that probably won’t pass safety inspect for any one of a number of reasons including the blue cloud of smoke that follows along.

The tougher question is where do you draw the line on what qualifies as historic and what is taking advantage of the policy. I know I don’t want to be the guy writing the guidelines.
If putting normal tags on my less than 40 year old car helps reduce the number of junkers on the road and improves safety and reduces pollution, I’ll inspect and reregister it tomorrow.


I drive an 87 Volvo wagon as my DD.I got it thru MD state inspection.
I really believe that the clapped out 300K mile Corolla rust buckets should not be issued historic tags.Requiring working brakes and safe suspension parts is not government over reach.
Md. state inspection is really a safety inspection. Where else can you get a comprehensive inspection on brakes, suspension, lights,exhaust, tires and glass. It’s a bargain at less than $100.00

Only in some areas in MD were emissions inspections required. '‘The older vehicles (pre 1996) represent only 24,000 motorists and will now be exempt, according to to the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration.’'https://www.heraldmailmedia.com/news/local/md-changing-emissions-inspections-guidelines/article

There are 18 full service stations emission testing stations With testing on a bi annual basis each station
There are 24,000 cars in the pre 1996 class that were tested. The stations are open roughly 300 days per year. We get to the math. 24000div by 300days divided by 18 stations, divide by 2 for bi annual testing. 2.22 vehicle per sta per day. A poor return on investment in training people and equipment needed. So they let it go

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“A 1996 vehicle can’t be historic it’s just old”

What a load of nonsense! Who are any of you to decide what is and isn’t historic? Do only 68-72 American muscle cars fit that category? Or exotic super cars?

I say my 92 bronco IS historic. It was the first year of the final era of full sized 2 door SUVs. But it doesn’t fit the parameters of “historic”? Why not?

I’d be hard pressed to want anything to do with pre war cars, but I wouldn’t want to try and claim any status as to what they are.

Historically significant is and always will be in the eye of the beholder in this hobby, any other judgement is simply snubbing one group of car lovers over another


AMEN. Right ON!!

Get out and VOTE.

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I feel like any vehicle of a certain age should be considered an antique. Just because one person or one group doesn’t think a vehicle is historic, that is purely subjective, it should go off of age from the current year.


jr - I live in MD and have a 1985 Monte Carlo LS. I bought the car new and have owned it for 35 years this summer. It certainly isn’t historic by any means, but MD only has Historic and Street Rod plates available, and it certainly isn’t a Street Rod!

I have put maybe 3000 miles on it in the past 4 years because I use it as MD law envisions cars with Historic plates to be driven - C&C events, Sunday afternoon drives, and the occasional evening cruise. However, there is a guy that parks at my train station that drives a g-body El Camino with Historic plates on it every day, and I’ve never seen any enforcement action taken against him, even though the transit police see it parked in nearly the same spot every day. That guy is doing it for the wrong reason - $250 Hagerty insurance, reduced registration costs, etc. They should enforce that law, not screw the rest of us.

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