Registering Kit Car in Montana

   Posted by: kdavis

So, after 8 weeks of waiting, and about 100 emails and phone calls, I finally have my registration in place, and I’m waiting on the arrival of my plates. The local county office rep of the DOJ (dmv) was completely wrong in telling me that I had to send my paperwork to the state directly, which cost me 2 months of drive time.

If you happen to get the same information from your local office, you will need to be your own advocate and insist that you know what you’re talking about, ask to see a supervisor and explain it again. Be careful in saying “custom vehicle,” that is apparently where I went wrong. It is a “vehicle assembled from kit” and you are designating is as a custom vehicle for the purpose of getting a single plate exemption. That should help.

I thought I’d post some information here on the blog to help future builders in Montana for registering a kit car like this, or others.

Step 1

Go to the DOJ website and download the following forms: MV20 (VIN Inspection Form); MV1 (Application for Title); and MV121 (Fact Sheet).

Step 2

Call your local law enforcement office and request that an officer come by to do a Stage 1 Inspection (they will come to your house or where the car is. I live outside of city limits, so in my case, it was the local Sheriff’s office. The dispatcher, nor the officer actually knew what he was supposed to do, so I explained it to him. Basically, they need to look at the certificate of origin, and verify that the serial/chassis number matches what’s on the car. They fill out the form MV20 and sign it verifying that they match. According to the DMV, a stage 2 inspection isn’t necessary because you’re not trying to re-title a salvaged car, so only the stage 1 is needed. I made it clear that only a portion of the rear end, the motor and transmission were used from the donor (and not even complete), so you’re really just building a car from parts, not retitling the original donor. Obviously, if no donor is used, then this doesn’t apply.

Step 3

Complete your MV121. I chose Custom Vehicle vs. Kit Vehicle so that I can run without the front plate. It probably qualifies for either. I’m also not going to use this as my daily driver (weather in Montana wouldn’t permit anyway), so the non-general transportation thing does apply. The local office had some computer issues getting the single plate thing to go through, so I will have to make one more trip down there to sort that out, or I’ll end up just putting that paperwork in the car in case I get stopped. MT law requires 2 plates, and it’s a $200 fine, but it doesn’t seem to be a big issue.

Take ALL of your paperwork (including the MCO/COO, donor title, etc.) and go to your local Vehicle Registration Office, and they can issue the title and plates. In Montana, they will title it as a 1965 Shelby Cobra, even though it’s a replica, which only really means that in this state, since it’s titled as more than 11 years old, you are able to get a permanent registration completed (you pay 3.5 years worth of tag fees and it’s tagged for life). I also got a personalized plate for mine, which may or may not be part of the process for you. The personal plate fees are also done permanently in the same way as the normal plate. This means that once you have your plates and title, you don’t ever have to go through this process again with this car.

They issued a temp tag for me, so I can drive it like any other car. The cost for registration and plates was about $200.

Current Copies of the Forms:


Title Manual