We at JNC have always had a rolling 25 year cutoff for what is considered a classic. That’s because 25 years is when the US allows cars to be imported, and when most states allow for historic registration plates. Sadly, that is no longer the case for Arkansas, as the state has passed a new law that moves the cutoff for historic registration from 25 to 45 years. That means the state no longer considers any car made after 1973 to be a classic.
According to Hemmings, the bill was introduced to the state legislature by State Representative Jack Fortner, who actually tried to introduce a similar bill in 2017. Back then, he was interviewed by Little Rock’s KATV and was quoted as saying, “There are no historic cars from the ’90s.” Before the Arkansas state legislature, he also stated on the record, “I don’t think anything good happened in the auto field after ’72,” although he then claimed he was joking.
Outcry from classic car enthusiasts forced Fortner to change his mind back in 2017. As Hemmings reports, “Three days after introducing H.B. 1547, Fortner withdrew it, citing opposition from Arkansas car collectors. ‘Regardless of my personal feelings, I must go with the will of the people,’ he said at the time.”
This time, not so much. Earlier this year Fortner re-introduced a very similar bill, and it was subsequently passed into law, making all cars built after 1973 ineligible for historic plates (1973 and newer cars with existing historic plates will be grandfathered in). Fortner claims that the historic plates were subject to abuse, but the law already stated that proof of registration for a daily driver must accompany their application.
The crazy thing is, Fortner himself is a car collector. “I have 14 vintage cars right now,” he told KATV. About 43 percent of the cars in Arkansas with historic registration were built between 1974-94. With this new law, Arkansas becomes the state with the most restrictive historic registration rules in the country.