1. Rezzato

    Rezzato Puttering Along

    Hello everyone! I was wondering if anyone has had any success registering a Trabant newer than 1972 (Or around 72 per CARB rules) in California.

    I tried a few years ago with my 1989 but needed a letter from Volkswagen saying it conformed to California emissions of 1989 or needed to spend lots of money for some company down in SoCal to bring it into compliance. Perhaps titling it out of state and then titling in California would work because it is now "not coming from a foreign country."

    Also I should point at as per the CA DMV the Trabant is smog except because it has two cylinders. They don't need to know it's a two stroke.

    Thanks in advance if anyone has any experience with doing this.
  2. RogerDerSchrauber

    RogerDerSchrauber Loyal Comrade

    I think you mean "Smog-exempt"? I've never been to CA, but we have had members here who live in CA and got theirs registered in CA. One guy had the license plate DDRCAR, I think.

    FWIW, I live in MA, whose enviro laws mirror California's in utter lockstep. Even so, I had zero trouble importing a Trabant from Germany to MA and getting it registered and insured here. If it's over 25 years old, and it got off the boat, - and it would only get off the boat through customs by being exempt from the DOT and EPA- then it should be no trouble. YMMV.
  3. Rezzato

    Rezzato Puttering Along

    Yeah exempt. Was typing from my phone in the garage. Those might have been registered pre 72.
    Is your smog exemption 2008 or 15 years? Found that in a quick search.
    The car scene would be much different here if that was our policy.
  4. tricken

    tricken Loyal Comrade

    Ca smog omg that would not be fun
    I am in arizona and if you claim it as a classic car and get collector insurance and drive less then 5k miles a year you are smog excempt.

    may want to regestier out of state if you can
  5. RogerDerSchrauber

    RogerDerSchrauber Loyal Comrade

    Smog exception in MA is 25 years or older.
  6. tricken

    tricken Loyal Comrade

    smog in az exception is one of 2 ways pre 67 or collector car insurance. Or you register out of major cities in az.

    If it was me i bring it across the state line and go north or go to az both will be way way easier to get tags then ca.
  7. Rezzato

    Rezzato Puttering Along

    I've been driving it a few days a week for the past year with no problems in Santa Cruz County.
    I'm finished with my other projects so it is time to figure out how to register it. I will do out of state as a last resort.
    A rolling 25 years is amazing!
  8. RogerDerSchrauber

    RogerDerSchrauber Loyal Comrade

    Aaargh! I just looked it up again. It is now very complex.... various gradations.... https://www.dmv.org/ma-massachusetts/smog-check.php

    maybe CA has such a system, with lots of "exceptions"....
  9. Mithras

    Mithras Newbie

    In California, all foreign built cars 1975 (in January, 1976) and older are exempt. There are only three exceptions, according to the sources I've been able to pull, plus one odd fourth case.

    I can find no evidence for a two stroke exemption regarding cars. I've asked the DMV. They barely knew what a Trabant was, but confirmed that no car they are aware of meets the standard. I'd love to see something contrary!:)

    1. Diesels of smaller engine displacement
    2. Electric Cars
    3. Motorcycles

    The fourth case is a bit weird... Any foreign built car that was intended for the US market or converted with a fuel injection system will often be waved. These were "grandfathered in."

    This applies even in the case you have a car that was previously registered in another state.

    Yes, it's insane. Yes, it violates the interstate commerce clause, but that's California for you (and it's not me being political.. it's just the way it is. California has weird laws on both sides of the aisle.)

    Now, there are individual exceptions. I know of at least two Nissan Paos that have been registered in California and one Lada Niva, but I believe the first two required very large payments (in excess of $3000) and the third, well, I don't have a clue how they managed to do it. Cars that have rebuilt engines or extensive conversion work can also pass, but I'm told that gets also gets expensive.
  10. RogerDerSchrauber

    RogerDerSchrauber Loyal Comrade

    Maybe this is why so many Trabants that came over in the 1990s were listed as 1960s cars, in order to circumvent such rules...
    Rezzato and Mithras like this.
  11. Rezzato

    Rezzato Puttering Along

    Two cylinders and engines under a certain displacement are exempted. It took me five minutes of arguing at the DMV for the employee to bring up internal records. I saw the exemption with my own eyes. They would not print me a copy. Everything was moving forward with registering my 1989 until CARB (California Air Resources Board) put a stop to the registration process, I even had a two month temporary registration and insurance. CARB sent a letter stating that I needed a letter from the manufacturer saying it complied with California emissions regulations of 1989 or it needed to pass something called Import Direct Testing. That is where you pay the " excess of $3000 to bring the car into compliance. I don't think a two stroke Trabant could be compliant. The car got t-boned and totaled before my temporary registration expired so that was the end of that. The DMV refunded my $120 for the registration/title application.


    I have noticed a few Trabants that were obviously from the 1980s being sold as ones from the 1960s.

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