California and Texas rank...
California and Texas rank First and Second in population, respectively, and both are under tremendous pressure by the EPA to regulate the emissions generated by their large manufacturing industries. Both states can earn pollution credits by indiscriminately crushing old cars in lieu of actually reducing emissions. Additionally, California and Texas both offer credits or vouchers that encourage people to trade in older cars that have failed emissions tests. Despite each state's bustling car culture, their silly scrappage policies prevent them from making our list. Fortunately, no other states sponsor similar programs.
In addition to the racing, Nevada has thousands of miles of superb driving roads that snake between the Sierra Nevada mountains, along picturesque Lake Tahoe, and through some of the most desolate desert roads in the world. Nevada State Route 375, also known as the Extraterrestrial Highway, is essentially a 98-mile straightaway with only one small town in its path. It runs adjacent to Area 51, and you can traverse its entire length without ever seeing another life-form. Think of it as the American Autobahn-just watch out for the cows.
Of course, none of this would matter if state regulations made building hot rods a pain, but this is where Nevada truly shines. In 2007, Nevada signed a SEMA-modeled bill for street rods and customs into law. It stipulates that kit cars can be issued VINs, and be titled and registered as the make and model of car it most closely resembles. The bill covers both pre-'48 vehicles, and cars that are at least 25 years old, so it includes everything from '32 Ford replicas to Dynacorn reproduction '69 Camaros. Although new cars are subject to emissions testing in the Las Vegas and Reno areas, pre-'68 vehicles are exempt, as are street rods and classic cars that are at least 25 years old, and driven fewer than 2,501 miles per year. Likewise, after passing an initial safety inspection, kit cars are exempt from annual safety and emissions inspections. What really distinguishes Nevada from the pack is that it clearly outlines emissions, titling, and registration laws for all types of enthusiast vehicles, eliminating any gray area and protecting residents from bogus reprimands.
Up in Big Sky Country, sparse population is both a blessing and a curse. With less than one million residents, from a legislation standpoint, Montana doesn't need to do much regulating at all and therefore pegs the hot rod-friendly meter. The state has no emissions or inspection laws whatsoever, so you're free to build your cars however you please. Thanks to having the third-lowest population density of any state in the country, it's highly unlikely that anyone will ever complain about cars stored on your property, or the sweet sound of impact wrenches blaring away in the barn at night. Not only has Montana enacted SEMA's model legislation for street rods and customs, it goes the extra mile with simple, one-page forms for registration and titling that are available for download online. Need a VIN for that '32 Dearborn Deuce? Just fill out a one-page form and the state will give you one. Has the title to that '57 Chevy gone missing in the 54-plus years since it's been built? Simply fill out a one-page application and pay $8, and the state will issue a new one. Despite the low population total, Montana is home to three dragstrips: Lewistown Raceway, Lost Creek Raceway, and Yellowstone Dragstrip-along with several paved ovals and dirt tracks. Located at the crossroads of the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, Montana boasts the spectacular backdrops of Yellowstone and Glacier National parks along miles upon miles of secluded asphalt. This is, after all, the state that technically had no speed limit between 1995 and 1999. Unfortunately, the state's brutally cold and prolonged winters, lack of major motorsports events, and a population too small to sustain any major hot rodding culture prevent Montana from finishing higher up on the list.