TOPEKA — Hesston classic automobile owner Stephen Owens isn't convinced upgrading features on an old Ford should prompt law enforcement officers to declare the vehicle ineligible for an antique license tag.

Anecdotal reports of the Kansas Highway Patrol‘s stepped-up enforcement and a murky understanding across the state of what qualified to be adorned with an antique plate prompted Owens and several allies to press for change. And, the group is in position to do something concrete. They’re members of the Kansas Legislature.

"You‘re out of compliance if I took the wooden wheels off my 1927 Model A and put on metal ones," said Owens, a Republican in the House.

Their remedy written into House Bill 2528 would broaden the state‘s definition of antique vehicle to be any at least 35 years of age, powered by gasoline, steam or electricity and -- here’s the legal amendment -- regardless of components or equipment installed after it left the factory.

Rep. Nick Hoheisel, a Wichita Republican, introduced the bill with seven co-sponsors. He did so after a constituent who operates car shows in the Sedgwick County area reported a KHP trooper pulled over an antique-tagged car as it left a gathering. The trooper asserted modern tires on the vehicle disqualified it for the antique license plate displayed on it, Hoheisel said.

He said sponsors of the bill had received 375 emails in support of the reform proposal.

The idea hasn‘t won endorsement from the state Highway Patrol or the Kansas Department of Revenue, which oversees vehicle registration and licensing. The state can miss out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual revenue if hot rods and other modified vehicles are allowed to get antique tags in Kansas, a revenue department official said.

Under current Kansas law, there is financial incentive for owners of antique cars and trucks to get an antique tag. Owners of these vehicles pay a one-time $40 registration fee and $17 annually in property tax.

The bill raised a skeptical question from Rep. William Sutton, a Gardner Republican on the House Transportation Committee.

"I have a 400-year-old hammer. I've replaced the head and the handle numerous times. Is it still a 400-year-old hammer?" he said.