Strange things are happening in Maine. Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) actively de-registrations Mitsubishi Delicacies that were imported into the United States and were previously registered in Maine under the well-known 25-year federal import rule…
Guys from Crankshaft culture brought this news to our attention and published a fairly detailed report at the beginning of the month. Since we saw this, we have been trying to find more answers from the Maine BMV and the Maine Secretary of State’s office.
Here is a summary of what has happened so far. Crankshaft culture dug up the Mitsubishi Delica Owners Club Facebook page and discovered that Maine was sending letters to people in the state who currently own Delicas. The letters clearly state that “this vehicle is not eligible for a Maine motor vehicle registration and cannot be used on public roads.” He then requires the owners to remove the plates from the Delicas and return them to the BMV. In addition, it states that “registration cannot be used as proof of ownership for the sale of this vehicle as a car.”
So no, Maine isn’t exactly mean.
Of course, here’s the question: Why? Why Maine is deregistering Mitsubishi Delicas? These vans were imported under the federal 25-year import law. We know this rule, but here is a summary from the Customs and Border Protection website: “A vehicle that is at least 25 years old can be legally brought into the United States regardless of whether it meets all applicable requirements. POINT Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards ”. In theory, this would make it legal to bring in any Delicas over 25 years old, as well as almost any other gadgets you want to bring, but old enough. Maine told us that this is only targeting Delicas before 1995, so there is no time difference.
We went to the secretary of state of Maine to find out what was going on. The answers are a little confusing, so bear with us. In short, Maine considers the Delica an “SUV.” Maine law – Name 29-A – very clear with “off-road vehicles”. It reads: “SUVs cannot be registered under this Section.”
OK. Next question. What does Maine consider an “SUV”? How does Delica qualify? Here is a new modification (LD 1433 sections 1-8) to Section 29-A comes into play. The secretary of state’s office informed us that on June 15, 2021, Maine passed legislation to clarify this issue. The definition of “SUV” in Maine is as follows:
“SUV” means a vehicle which, by virtue of the design of the vehicle
and, configuration, original manufacture, or original intended use, does not meet the US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards Chapter 15 inspection standards. Environmental Protection Agency Pollutant Requirements or National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration crash testing standards, and this is not a moped or motorbike… “
The secretary of state’s office gave us even more information, as this also applies to Delica.
“Considering that these vehicles are generally right-hand drive and have few modern safety features, or emission control, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and EPA both have ruled that this class of vehicle can only be used for off-road (or similar) use. Maine thinks these cars are ATVs. “
Now wait. We know what you are thinking. Maine thinks Delica is an ATV? Delica is minivan… From the era we are talking about, you could buy Delicas that were almost the length of the newest minivans on sale Today. They can accommodate both many people and many things. It is far from an all-terrain vehicle, and while this vehicle is a good SUV, the Delica is not an agricultural vehicle either. We explained to the Maine Secretary of State that the Delica was actually sold in the United States in several variants (both passenger and cargo) in the late 1980s, but this did not spark any further discussion on this matter.
Maine gave his answer, and it seems definitive.
However, this definition of “SUV” raises another question. It’s incredibly wide. Right-hand traffic and non-compliance with US safety requirements or emission standards – These are the categories in which many cars fall under the 25-year rule. Crankshaft culture thought about the same question.
We asked Maine about specific models that could theoretically fall into this bucket – older Nissan GT-R, Nissan Silvias, Toyota Hiaces and so on. Will the registrations be revoked (of course, a few) of the owners of these unique imported cars from Maine? Again, Maine’s answer is vague and slightly worrisome for the owners of said vehicles.
“Any car that has been wrongly registered will receive a letter similar to the one recently sent out by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.”
This is how it was arranged for us. Time and again, Maine has stated that it believes the Delicas were incorrectly registered (when they were registered in the first place) for road use due to their state-defined status as SUVs. The secretary of state’s office has confirmed that the same applies to other vehicles that it places in the wide SUV bucket.
This does not guarantee that other vehicles will be safe. It also does not guarantee that they will not be deregistered. Without any clear model-specific answers, the future of these 25-year-old imported cars in Maine is shaky at best.
To continue this definition (just for the sake of it), any classic car sold in America decades ago will not meet current crash or emission safety standards. Delica will break worse and pollute more than a new one. Toyota Siennabut the same can be said for 1990. Oldsmobile silhouette or 1929 Ford Model A. If this is what Maine is heading for, then the language of this law falls into the old slippery slope cliché.
All this can also be attributed to the state. Travel to a different location in the country, and as long as you comply with federal regulations on legal car import, you can buy a Mitsubishi Delica and drive it on the road. Maine, however, appears to be following its own rules rather than federal laws.
And the last
You will notice that Crankshaft culture report points out that Maine called the Delicas “mini trucks.” It’s almost as confusing as labeling the Delica as an ATV, but we asked Maine about that for clarification. The state responded by saying, “We had to be more precise in our language with regard to Delica and mini-trucks.” A similar return as per condition can be found in Crankshaft culture post too. It looks like the state has moved away from using the “mini-truck” designation as a way to deregister, and now it all depends on what they call the Delica “SUV” instead.
We’ll be keeping an eye on Maine and this space for any additional news, but for now, it looks like Maine Delica owners are just out of luck.