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Licensing an out-of-state Seven in California...

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  • Licensing an out-of-state Seven in California...

    I think I have a reasonably good idea of the procedure needed to license a newly constructed Seven in CA. However, I don't have much of a feel for how successful people have been with purchasing a used Seven, licensed in another state, into CA and being able to get it licensed. Does anyone have any suggestions or experience with this process? (I have been interested in purchasing out-of-state Sevens but start to get cold feet when faced with the uncertainty of being able to license it here in CA. The DMV's answers to my questions don't inspire much confidence that this won't turn into a major hassle). Thank you to anyone that has some insight into this problem.

  • #2

    The funny thing is my wife goes " What is that car a Morgan ? " and I said "No that's a Caterham but there is a Morgan driving it " -delise


    • #3
      So I made my first foray into the DMV since getting my 98 Caterham (with 1600 Crossflow) from Pennsylvania. Though it took talking to several people, and helping them through the SB100 process, I walked out with a temporary registration, no CHP visit, no brake and light inspection, and an SPCNS number. All I need to do now is get a smog referee to look at the car and verify the few requirements for a 1965 Lotus. In California, that apparently means a Type IV PCV. I have some research to do on how to rig this up since I don't want to drill any holes in my intake manifold or air cleaners. I'm sure I will, but want to make as little impact as possible, and know that whatever I do, it will be acceptable.

      I had the same feelings Centerfireman had when he called DMV. Nobody would give me any straight information. It made me very leery. To put it bluntly, most people at the DMV have no clue how to register an out of state SPCNS. To their credit, any given person at DMV may only do one SPCNS a year, so it is not at the top of their skill set. My first trip to the DMV was prior to owning the car. I went down to inquire about the process, and they would not talk to me at all. They said I needed to have the car and start the process with by filling out the form. They did not specify the form, but said to look it up on the internet. They basically blew me off by stating that the SPCNS numbers are a January 2nd thing, and that they were all gone for the year. Do not listen to anyone who tells you this! It is September 5th, and I got number 306. As of this morning, there were 194 left. So on to the process.

      I will preface this with the statement that this has been my experience so far, and that because this process is not well understood by the DMV, I doubt that it will be replicated in your instance.

      Firstly, read everything you can about SB100 and SPCNS on the DMV sites and forums like this. Everyone's experience will help you to understand something about the process. Secondly, have all the information you have about the car handy when you go. If you can get receipts from the original owner/builder, bring copies. Take photos or magazine articles about the Lotus 7 that show a 1960s car, and how similar it is to your car (I took the Wikipedia photo of a 1965 series 2.) Make an appointment.

      Have three forms filled out, REG356, REG343, and REG5036. ( Make the case in the Statement of facts that this is a KIT car built as a REPLICA of a 196x Lotus 7. They may not want all three forms, but the directions say to have the 343 and 5036, so it's better to have them and they will pick and choose what they want. The 356 is kind of extra. It makes it much easier for them to have them all than to have to fill them out there. In my case, they really only needed the 343, but looked at the 356. They only glanced at the 5036 statement of construction, and handed it back when they realized that it was a previously registered car.

      They will do a VIN check on the car and fill out a form. They will check the VIN to the out of state title, and license plates (if you have them.) Then they send you in to go through the registration process. Be prepared to pay all fees and taxes at this visit, including the 7-9% use tax depending on where you live.

      The DMV folks will figure out a make and year for your car. At this point, my paperwork says that I'm driving a model year 0000 SPCNS. Whatever, as long at it ends up getting me a plate. In my case, they said I didn't need an SPCNS number because it was an out of state car that is already registered. THIS IS WRONG! Do not leave the DMV window until they call Sacramento and get you an SPCNS number. The BAR will not give you an appointment for the referee station without the SPCNS Certificate of Sequence number. They will not test it without the certificate in hand. I found this out when I called to try and make an appointment. They wouldn't make the appointment, and told me to go back to get the SPCNS number. BAR also told me that "as of two weeks ago, there were only nine numbers left for the year and that I was unlikely to get a number which meant I'd have to park the car until January." Don't trust anyone about how many numbers are left. They likely have bad information. This guy did, and when I called him back later with my SPCNS number, he was very surprised. He ended up being a great help, but was unfortunately working to bad information.

      When you do get your number, you will have your receipt, a temporary registration, and a list of tasks to complete. These can be:
      A trip to CHP for more VIN inspection
      Brake and light inspection.
      Smog Referee.

      In my case, my list includes only the Smog. I'll follow up later with how that goes. Talking to BAR, it does appear that I'll need the PCV taking vacuum from the intake manifold to actuate the valve, then hooking the breather tube from the block to the air cleaners. This is where I need more research.

      Overall, the process has been easier than I expected, and I think it will end up being relatively painless. The people I worked with at DMV today were pleasant and professional. They were just working to a process that they are unfamiliar with. Be patient with them, and point them in the right direction when necessary. You have probably researched this process more than anyone in your local DMV office. You'll probably know when they misstep, and can push them back in the right direction.

      I think this can be done, and hopefully in a month or so, will have my dream car, a fully licensed 0000 SPCNS.


      So, today I completed the process and got my plates. I got my SPCNS number (2012306) a couple of weeks ago, built a rudimentary PCV system described in another post, had it inspected by the referee, and got a BAR sticker next to the VIN plate. (They didn't even measure emissions.) After that, it was a very painless trip to the DMV.

      The only hiccup to completing the process was that BAR didn't want to make an appointment without CHP verification. Since it's an already titled car, DMV didn't find this necessary and did the VIN verification themselves on a REG31 form. The full CHP VIN verification is done on a REG124 form, but CHP will also do the REG31. This confused the appointment center and when I said I had an REG31 filled out and signed by DMV, they accepted that. (The REG124 VIN inspection requires an appointment at CHP. REG31 does not.) The smog referee never even asked for VIN verification. Like I said before, your experience may differ, but this is how it went for me.

      The car is now fully registered as a 2012 SPCNS. Body type 1960 Lotus, engine type 1966 Ford Cortina 1.6L.
      Last edited by tikijose; October 12, 2012, 01:30 PM.


      • #4
        Well, as far as the DMV staff's knowledge level, a LOT depends on which office you go to.

        The CHP part is determining that the car is legit, w/ no stolen bits etc. They affix a VIN tag if required and that's it. They didn't even question the lack of windshield on my car.

        B&L is a cursory joke.

        Smog guy will be the worst part. Getcher drill out and oil it up. This part used to be easier - once upon a time one didn't have to do any PCV stuff at all, way back when.

        And yes, it is relatively painless, particularly given the reward when you're done.

        Edit: If you think it was lumpy for you at the reg window, think about the people behind you in line! :-D
        Last edited by moosetestbestanden; September 7, 2012, 07:13 AM.
        A day you don't go a hundred is a day wasted


        • #5
          My experience this year moving back to CA (Had owned mine registered out of state for more than 10 years)
          Had to go through the entire SPCNS process.

          This is what I did for BAR/SMOG (you might have to do something different)

          1600 Xflow, dual dcoe's

          Added PCV system to satisfy, they would not even look at it unless it had at least a PCV system.
          I would not suggest an appointment unless you at least have a PCV system on your car.

          1) used a Pinto 1600 PCV valve (1600 cc, seemed like a good starting point)
          2) tapped manifold for 10-32 1/8 barbed nipples (has to be after throttle plate, not a lot of room choose location wisely)
          3) machined a balance tube to input the 4 manifold fittings to a 3/8 nipple
          4) machined a vapor tank, grommet PCV in, 1/2 out to crankcase vent (mounted using bellhousing bolt to mount)
          5) machined up valve cover oil filler cap that would clear closed hood and connect to 1/2 hose.
          6) machined up fitting for air cleaner (so valve cover would be vented inside air cleaner, rearmost carb, tricky but doable)
          7) all hoses were emissions rated.

          If you need some pix let me know.

          ...kind regards,


          • #6
            Sounds like a nice setup. I would love to see some pics. Thanks. Tom
            Tom "ELV15" Jones


            • #7
              Robolt, That does sound like a nice setup. It will balance the crankcase vent between all cylinders. You can pass smog with a simpler setup, though it will affect intake balance. I just got through BAR today with a line that goes from the crankcase vent to a Pep-boys inline PCV 1/2" hose to 1/4" hose (Small is good because it will restrict flow and keep vacuum up at the manifold.) I drilled and tapped cylinder 1 intake with a 1/8" NPT to nipple fitting for the 1/4" hose. Took off the vented oil cap and put a hose vent cap on. This is routed with a 5/16" hose into a grommet drilled into the back of the rear K&N filter.

              This requires no machining, and can be accomplished in a couple hours. The picture shows drilling into the outside of the air cleaner, but there is enough space between the carb barrels on DCOE40s to drill a 1/2"-9/16" hole to insert the grommet. I don't have photos at this point but will be taking some this weekend. This layout that passed BAR this morning.

              If you have the time tools and skills, I would go with Robolt's balanced system. If your goal is to pass with a minimally invasive system, this should work for you.
              Last edited by tikijose; October 12, 2012, 01:35 PM. Reason: spelling and clarification