1. In order to combat the SPAM challenges we have been facing, I have chosen for the registration of new forum members to be manually approved. If you are registering as a new member, please fill out your profile as much as your comfortable doing. By doing this it shows us that you are not a spammer and will ensure that you’re registered to the form quickly. Should you be denied by mistake, please reapply with a fully completed profile
  2. I have received a lot of messages asking about the future of the forums once my car sells. Well today it sold and will soon be on its way to its new home. With that said, for the forums, there is more information under 'Announcements" titled "Future of the Forums' you could also copy and paste this link: http://www.trabantforums.com/threads/future-of-the-forums-donations.1762/
  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 Premium Member Forum Donor

    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 Premium Member Forum Donor

    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 Premium Member Forum Donor

    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 Puttering Along Moderator

    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 Premium Member Forum Donor

    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.
    Mithras likes this.
  12. Mithras

    Mithras Puttering Along Moderator

    So, to add to this, I've done a lot more digging in the month or so since I commented here. It helps that my wife is a lawyer, because she can get access to some of these laws faster than most of us.

    The reason that "some" cars are being treated as an exception as to weightand historical significance is all down to a misunderstanding. The DMV and the BAR disagreed on a point of law. In 2012, the DMV began to tell people with historical plates that having historical plates exempted them from having to get smog tests. As such, cars built from (then, 1972, now 1976) onward were given historical plates and owners were being informed that they were exempt from the requirement for smog tests. This caused confusion with standard plates as well. The BAR issued a ruling saying that this was all incorrect reading of the law by the DMV. The two had a minor feud about it, BAR won out in the end. The problem is that some car owners were -specifically- told they'd be 'fine' as far as testing went, and that they would not need to be tested. So, people like R. are throwing a shit fit - as they rightfully should - about the sheer unfairness of such an error being held against them.

    In truth, there is still no exception in any written law for the majority of owners. Even if you drive a two stroke car with low curb weight. It still needs to be smog tested. There has been discussion to the effect that no two stroke engine of that vintage could successfully pass clean air standard. But that has fallen on deaf ears. Multiple attempts to change or amend the law; all died in committee.

    Of course, it's.. theoretically possible to get special certification, make them compliant, etc, but see above for R.'s comments on the extra costs we've both been told about.

    Yes, it's ludicrous. Yes, it's quite unevenly applied. The California Legislature did a study that showed less than 1% of cars were affected by the regulations, and as such, according to members of both the leading parties, were a waste of money and time to enforce. But the protectionism in the state is pretty hard core, and it's difficult to get past that machine.
  13. mbeamish

    mbeamish Loyal Comrade

    The 601 didn't change it's looks much during production probably easier to find a late sixties model . You can always add stuff like electronic ignition to an early car. Ealier cars are better looking anyway ie bumpers plus more chrome ( more chrome is always better)
    Mithras likes this.
  14. RogerDerSchrauber

    RogerDerSchrauber Premium Member Forum Donor

    A solution in search of a problem.....
    Mithras likes this.
  15. Mithras

    Mithras Puttering Along Moderator

    That’s the challenge, aye. Finding one.
  16. Steve

    Steve Loyal Comrade

    Don't ya just love the freedom to do what you want in the glorious sunshine state where there are no restrictions on what you wanna do. Unlike the poor repressive state that was East Germany where our beloved cars were built and driven.
    RogerDerSchrauber and Mithras like this.
  17. Mithras

    Mithras Puttering Along Moderator


    California is one of those places where the absurdity of accusing any one political affiliation for being overly authoritarian sort of crumbles away for all to see, since the majority of laws that cause us the most problems were bi-partizan efforts, often beginning as "propositions." It's an interesting object lesson, being an Historian and living in a state with the kind of political machinations that make Roman Senators look positively mild by comparison. I learned this the hard way, but it still stuns me.

    I thought Virginia was odd; DC disorganized; Indiana full of revenge politics; that British law I was exposed to whilst living there was sometimes needlessly complex; but none of those held a candle to California. Not even close. My wife, who passed the California BAR to begin her law work, told me that California Laws were unique... and I had -no idea- what I was in for;)
    RogerDerSchrauber and Steve like this.
  18. RogerDerSchrauber

    RogerDerSchrauber Premium Member Forum Donor

    You'd love MA, it has its own special brand of automotive legal insanity, but they mirror fed law on antique cars and leave them alone. Probably because there are so many antique and classic cars here per square mile.
    Mithras likes this.
  19. VADOC

    VADOC Premium Member Forum Donor

    Rezzato, did I read you're post correctly, was the Trabant destroyed in a collision or another car?
  20. turbofiat124

    turbofiat124 Premium Member Forum Donor

    Tennessee doesn't have any kind of inspection system. They depend upon using police officers if anything needs to be verified like VINs for example. But they don't bother to check for equipment mandated on cars of that year like backup lights, seat belts, etc. Of course if they see you riding around without proper seat belts, then they will write you a ticket.

    When registering cars in Tennessee the big thing is, the state is more paranoid about someone cheating them out of a dollar when it comes to registration more than anything. Like if the car has passed hands without being registered by the previous owner, they want to make sure that person had paid their fair share of the 4% tax imposed on automobiles. I've ran into that situation in the past and it can be a pain to sort out. It's all about the tax. They can easily verify if the car is stolen.

    Unlike some other states I've heard of, the sales tax is paid up front after the purchase of the vehicle. Then from there on out, everybody pays the same, no matter the value of the car. At least they only charge 4% since our sales tax is 10%, one of the highest states in the country. But at least we don't have a state income tax like Virginia does. So I guess it balances out.

    Last year the state raised their fee to $27 from $23. However the county I live in imposed a wheel tax back in 1984 to either buy new school buses or for something school related and it stuck. The county tax turns out to be higher than the state tax. So in my county it used to cost about $52 a year to register a vehicle but in neighboring Sullivan county their fee was only $23.

    So last year the idiots that run my county couldn't balance the budget so they ended up adding an additional $44 to the wheel tax. So now to register my van and Subaru it's $96 a year. Sullivan county it's $27.

    Luckily all of my cars over 25 year old have antique licence plates so they are considered permanent. So I no longer have to pay a registration fee every year.

    I think it all boils down to the fact that the state allocates more money per student based on the population of that county.

    Sorry, I had to rant!

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