Mr. Bill Cox
President
Monte Carlo Minis Limited, Inc.
2011 Pleasant Hill Church Road
Shelby, NC 28152

Dear Mr. Cox:

After you received our letter of September 29, 1998, you faxed Taylor Vinson of this Office several additional questions on October 6, 7, and 9.

You previously informed us that you were building Minis for export to Japan. On October 6 you asked "Do you want copies of the export shipping documents for proof that the new Minis are not being sold in the USA?" We appreciate your offer, but the export shipping documents would prove only that those particular Minis were not being sold in the United States. The documents would not cover any Minis that were not being exported.

You also asked "We assume that for compliance in the USA the rebuilt Minis have to be a rolling chassis, is this correct." In a second fax on the 6th you explained that "A rolling chassis is one that rolls by itself and stops with brakes. It also has steering rack, brakes, engine and transmission and can be driven." We are not sure what your question is. As I explained on September 29:

"the agency's opinions over the years have been premised upon the fact situation of a vehicle in use being modified to incorporate a new body on its original chassis and one which retained its original title. We have said that the resulting vehicle would not be considered a new motor vehicle subject to the FMVSS."

You seem to be asking "We assume that, to excuse compliance in the USA, the rebuilt Minis have to use an original chassis with steering rack, brakes, engine and transmission." That is essentially correct. The vehicle must also retain its original title, i.e., must continue to be registered with its original model year designation.

You also asked "Why can the tires not be replaced [if they have] DOT markings?" We think you mean to ask whether a rolling chassis whose tires have DOT markings needs to have new tires when a new body is placed on the chassis. If the vehicle that results when a new body is placed on a rolling chassis is not considered a new vehicle that must comply with the Federal motor vehicle safety standards that apply to new vehicles, then it need not have new tires but may retain its old ones.

Your October 7 fax is the first indication we have had that you intend to rebuild Minis for the American market. You ask:

"If we retain the rear brakes, drums, can we upgrade to 8.4 discs in the front, which will greatly help stopping distance, but this would require upgrade to 12 inch wheels and tires for the 8.4 inch discs will not fit over the 10 inch rims."

If your "rebuilt" Mini is a "new" vehicle, it must conform with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 105, "Hydraulic Brake Systems," no matter how it is designed, as well as with all other applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards.

Finally, on October 9 you faxed us asking whether a statement had changed that was made to you in a letter of March 24, 1997, from this Office. That statement was "Because vehicles more than 25 years old are exempt from compliance with Federal motor vehicle safety standards, you are free to make modifications without violating our regulations." This remark was made with reference to pre-1973 Minis that you import. This remains true: a motor vehicle that is at least 25 years old at the time of importation, and which was not originally manufactured for the U.S. market, is not required to be brought into conformance with the Federal motor vehicle safety standards.

Sincerely,
Frank Seales, Jr.
Chief Counsel
ref:571
d.12/29/98