Why Are Mitsubishi Delicas Being Deregistered in Maine?

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Some car enthusiasts decide to import vehicles into the United States, and they’ve usually had some legal protection when it comes to registering and driving those vehicles. Even if they’re older and lack modern safety features or use right-hand drive, most states allow you to register imported vehicles if they meet certain requirements.
On June 15, Maine passed new legislation that has prompted the state to deregister certain Mitsubishi Delica models.
Closeup of a steering wheel with Mitsubishi logo
Collectors are concerned with Maine’s decision to deregister Mitsubishi Delicas.

Why is Maine deregistering Mitsubishi Delica models?

Most Mitsubishi Delica models were brought in under the 25-year federal import rule. This allows any motor vehicle over 25 years old to be legally registered whether or not it complies with the federal Department of Transportation’s safety standards.
However, many Delica models aren’t covered by this legislation but were still registered. Maine is currently only deregistering pre-1995 models, so the 25-year import rule still stands.
According to Autoblog, Maine is sending letters to Delica owners to notify them that their vehicle isn’t eligible for registration. Owners must remove and surrender plates to the BMV.
The current registration can’t be used as proof of ownership to sell the Delica as an automobile. It can, however, be sold as an off-road or farming vehicle. Under the new law, the Delica is now considered an off-road vehicle and designated as an all-terrain vehicle (ATV).

Maine’s new law redefines ‘off-road vehicle’

The Mitsubishi Delica is a van that’s no larger than today’s minivans. It was offered as a small cargo van or a passenger van. Under Maine’s new legislation, it’s now classified as an off-road vehicle.
The legislation attempts to clarify Title 29-A in Maine law. Under LD 1433 Sections 1-8, Maine law defines an off-road vehicle as any vehicle that isn’t a moped or motorcycle and has a design that doesn’t meet the state inspection standards. This includes the Federal Department of Transportation safety standards, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash test standards, or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission standards.
Unfortunately, the Delica falls into this category. It’s not a moped or motorcycle and it doesn’t meet national safety standards because it’s usually a right-hand steering vehicle. The pre-1995 models don’t pass the EPA emissions testing.
Because of these reasons, Maine classifies older Delicas as off-road vehicles and unsuitable for legal registration. Even Delicas with a left-hand steering configuration are being deregistered.

So far, other imports aren’t impacted

Autoblog reached out to Maine officials to try to clarify the situation. The state stood firm on its decision that the Mitsubishi Delica would be deregistered. When asked about other imported vehicles, officials said that only mistakenly registered ones will be deregistered under the new law.
That raises some concerns among collectors and enthusiasts. Many imports use right-hand steering, and older American muscle cars may not meet modern safety standards or emissions requirements.
Owners outside of Maine will not be affected unless other states decide to take the same route. If you own a Delica or an older import that’s registered in Maine, you’ll want to check with your local officials. Maine is still sending out letters to owners.
If you plan to buy a new vehicle to replace a deregistered import, you can use Jerry to save money on car insurance. The app will compare rates from name-brand companies for free so you don’t have to overpay for coverage. Jerry is available in all 50 states and helps you save money on insurance for any car you own.

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