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Thread: Importing vintage cars into California, USA

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    Senior Lancista Timo04's Avatar
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    Importing vintage cars into California, USA

    Greetings,

    Has anyone heard of any recent rule changes on importing vehicles directly into the state of California, USA? Just today, I was told by a trustworthy friend, who runs a local Italian auto repair shop, that it is now "impossible" to import a car newer than 1966 into California. Is this correct? Does anyone have any recent experience with this?

    Thanks in advance,

    Tim

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    Legendary Lancista 1,6 HF's Avatar
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    Re: Importing vintage cars into California, USA

    I think your friend's confused. There's been an issue with post-1967 for some years now, but nothing's changed recently, AFAIK.
    Ed Levin
    Fulvia 1,6 HF

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    Senior Lancista Timo04's Avatar
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    Re: Importing vintage cars into California, USA

    Thanks Ed. Yes, it is probably, and hopefully just hearsay and confusion.

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    Re: Importing vintage cars into California, USA

    What's the issue with post-67 cars?

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    Re: Importing vintage cars into California, USA

    New Federal safety & emissions standards took effect beginning 1 Jan 1968. Before the US standards were passed, CA passed its own, and the Feds agreed to let CA enforce theirs instead of pre-empting them.

    The Feds no longer enforce those standards for imports that are over 25 years old. But a few years ago, CA decided – for reasons no one seems to understand – that they would require compliance for new imports of models for which there was no US-spec version -- back to 1 Jan 1968. So owners of newly-imported post-'67 Fulvias (among many others) began to get letters stating that their new registration was being considered to be provisional, and requesting documentation that the vehicle meet the safety standards for its year of manufacture – a letter from the manufacturer was preferred.

    We keep hearing that there has been lobbying to get the law changed, but for the time being people are hiring DMV consultants to get individual cars through the process. There are some Fulvias still in this pipeline, which typically takes months. But I haven’t heard of any cases that weren’t ultimately resolved successfully.

    CA
    Ed Levin
    Fulvia 1,6 HF

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    Re: Importing vintage cars into California, USA

    Dang, that's a hassle. But all other CA cars don't require any smog, etc. if they're '75 or earlier? Due to the once rolling exemption. I guess some smog laws did start late 60's but not widespread til '74. I think that's why some 850's came with smaller engines for a couple years. I'll never quite understand some of California's rules. What if a car is imported to another state, registered, and then sold into California?

    Confuzled up North,
    Dave

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    Re: Importing vintage cars into California, USA

    There seems to be no issue with cars coming in from other states. SO one way around the CA DMV issue is to register it in a state that doesn't require residency for registration (there are a couple) and some months later re-register it with CA as an out-of-state import.

    No smog check required for cars built before 1 Jan 1976. CA used to have a 'rolling' 30-year exemption. But some years ago this was discontinued, and the exemption date was fixed at 1976.
    Ed Levin
    Fulvia 1,6 HF

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