This is the best write up I've seen on the subject, so I thought I'd share for the Californian's out there. So, if you're ready, kick back, grab a beer and take your time to read this THOROUGHLY. TWICE! I thought I had and hit some snags because it is a lot of info. If you have questions PM me.
http://home.thegrid.net/~ffr4776/SB100_Registration.pdf To print out.
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Registration in California is fairly straightforward. There are a number of steps that have to be taken, some forms that have to be filled out, and an inspection or two to go through. I have found that it's always best to bring down everything you can possibly imagine when registering your car. Be over-prepared. Be organized.And don't forget to bring your checkbook!
California Vehicle Code, as it relates to replicas,
"...Section 580. A "specially constructed
vehicle" is a vehicle which is built for
private use, not for resale, and is not constructed by a licensed manufacturer or remanufacturer. A
specially constructed vehicle may be built from (1) a kit; (2) new or used, or a combination of new
and used, parts; or (3) a vehicle reported for dismantling, as required by Section 5500 or 11520,
which, when reconstructed, does not resemble the original make of the vehicle dismantled. A specially
constructed vehicle is not a vehicle which has been repaired or restored to its original design by
So, technically, if your car was built by a manufacturer (for instance, ****** American, Inc. claims to be a
licensed automobile manufacturer (****** Series One)) then you can't register it as a Specially Constructed
Vehicle; and these cars should meet all of the criteria form the DOT for a brand new car (like SRS/air bags, 5 MPH
bumpers, seat belts, anti-lock brakes, anti-intrusion beams, and - most importantly - they should have brand
new engines with all the necessary smog and noise abatement equipment on them).
You have to have built your car, or had it built for private use by someone other than a licensed manufacturer or
Perhaps the single greatest contribution to the California kit car builder comes from Senator K. Maurice
Johannessen, who penned SB1911 (struck down by the California Air Resources Board...although Gov. Davis - in
a letter that contained exactly the verbage of a letter from CARB - said he would not sign the bill), and then
refurbished it to be SB100. The differences between the bills being that SB100 limits the number of cars that can
be registered to 500; the previous bill had no such restriction.
The newer - and passed! - legislation allows private builders to register their cars as smog exempt - assuming
that you meet all of the necessary criteria.
In a nutshell, SB100 allows you to register your car as a BRAND NEW car (called a 'SPCN'), with a 1965 smog
exemption. Do not attempt to register your kit in California with a bogus Alabama title, or sneak past the
DMV...they'll eventually find you and impound your car. And if you signed any paper making any kind of bogus
claim...well, you sign all of those papers "under penalty of perjury," which could mean jail time. Don't lose your
car, don't go to jail, just follow the steps outlined below.
What California Is Looking For
First and foremost, the DMV isn't looking to keep your car off the road. I'm sure that if you could drive it, they'd
license a tree. What they are interested in is getting their fees. This is the most important part of the whole
license process, and the part that seems to throw up the most red flags. Red flags are bad. How you can avoid
getting in any trouble is to be able to five an accurate number when asked how much your car costs. Don't say
it's been in storage for years. Don't say you got it for an absurdly low amount of money. The DMV - contrary to
every counter person I've ever had to deal with at any of the local offices - isn't stupid. Bring receipts, documents
that show how, where and for how much you purchased parts for, etc. A good median line for Cobras is between
$25,000 and $50,000. Be prepared to pay title, tax and licensing fees on that amount.
The Hoops You Must Jump Through To Get Registered
The new SB100 law allows the first 500 people per year to pretty much fly through the registration process. If
you pay attention to what I write, California registration is absurdly easy.... Just make sure that you have all of
the necessary documentation with you and ready when you go to the DMV, and make sure the person you're
talking to at the DMV is fully aware of what a kit car is (SPCN), and that they know all about SB100.
As mentioned in my other blogs, outside of the DMV & licensed VIN verifiers like myself, the next group of people that can verify your vehicle are peace officers, more specifically, the California Highway Patrol (CHP). The REG 31 form indicates that a DMV employee, licensed VIN verifier, or peace officer can verify your vehicle – so if you have a cop buddy, they can do a VIN verification for you as well – however, sometimes they don’t know how to do it and it results in you having to re-do it (I’ve seen it happen several times before).
In my experience, and as the DMV’s & CHP’s website indicates, when you are referred to the CHP for a VIN verification it is for a few of the following reasons:
- Your vehicle falls into a category of vehicles that have “a high probability of the vehicle having identification numbers (VIN) switched or being used for stolen parts” – this is directly from the CHP’s website.
- Your vehicle is salvage/junked.
- You are missing your Federal Certification Label and there is no primary VIN
- Motorcycles that had previously been registered in CA but fell off of the DMV system due to inactivity or a motorcycle that is having an engine swap.
In essence the VIN verifications the CHP conduct involve more scrutiny – they are not simply attempting to locate a VIN – but what they are trying to determine is if there is evidence of tampering, altering or swapping of VINs. The DMV can conduct these verifications as well, however, if they feel the need to, they will refer you to the CHP for a more in depth inspection. This is why there are vehicles which licensed VIN verifiers like myself are PROHIBITED from verifying vehicles that fall into the categories listed above. It is also mentioned on the CHP’s website that local CHP and DMV offices discuss and determine what type of vehicle will AUTOMATICALLY be referred to the CHP – these are your newer Toyotas, Hondas and maybe even Nissans – late model vehicles that have been salvaged or junked.
You will notice that with the reasons I have listed above there is the potential of parts being swapped out or VINs to be re-assigned to other vehicles. This is one of the “tricks” that car thieves use – they steal a car from out of state and have the VIN tags from a junked or salvaged vehicle re-assigned to the stolen vehicle. To the un-trained eye this vehicle will pass the inspection, however, to the trained eye, they would’ve stopped the registration of a stolen vehicle. It is good to see that the DMV and the CHP have mechanisms in place to halt and deter theft. The CHP has a few other programs that are un-related to VIN verifications, however, they are for the public good – such as the random inspections of heavy commercial vehicles.
When a customer comes into my office with paperwork indicating that it was referred to the CHP I automatically advise the customer to not look for alternatives to the CHP because if it was referred there it was for a reason. However, I will admit that sometimes the DMV refers to the CHP “just because”. This is an issue because getting the CHP to verify your vehicle requires an appointment, and to get an appointment at your average CHP goes weeks out, unless you are lucky, or have a “copy buddy”. Also, the requirements that the CHP has are not like one for a licensed VIN verifier or DMV tech, they will sometimes require that you have receipts & documentation to substantiate the claims that are being made to ensure that no fraud is being committed and no stolen parts are being used.
As a consumer, after learning these things about CHP verifications – I will strongly advise the following: do your due diligence. If you are purchasing a vehicle from a “curbstoner” – an unlicensed car dealer/car flipper – dudes that sell cars off of Craigslist – and you see a “salvage certificate” – do your due diligence. I strongly advise that you stay away from “curbstoners”, however, the reality is that people will continue to buy from them. Contact a registration service like ours and come in with the paperwork before you commit to buying; let us verify that you have the proper paperwork. Also, insist that the inspection be done prior to the sale being complete. Make certain that the paperwork burden is complete prior to you buying the vehicle.