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SPCNS Title in California

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  • SPCNS Title in California

    I'd like to buy a used 7 which is currently titled in another state. It would be brought into CA and have to be titled and then registered as a SPCNS for smog exemption (under SB100/SB1578). In terms of documentation, I would have a clean out-of-state title and invoices for all the major parts. It seems this has been done before, but I have a few questions about this case in particular:

    1. It is currently unclear if this car was ever registered for road use in the other state (track car). Would this history be an obstacle for SPCNS and road use in CA? i.e. having a title but no history of registration.
    2. It is currently titled as a "2002 CATERHAM" - i.e. it doesn't have a special SPCNS equivalent classification in the other state. Presumably this is not an obstacle to re-classification as SPCNS in CA?
    3. Since the MSO was surrendered to the out-of-state DMV to obtain the title, it's not available for the CA DMV. Presumably an out-of-state title would substitute for the MSO to get SPCNS?
    4. I've read conflicting info on whether the "7,500 mile limit" applies to SPCNS applications. Can you register a used out-of-state kit-car which has <7,500 miles on the clock?

    Thanks so much. I'm trying to contact DMV for their verdict, but getting through to Sacramento on the phone is taking ages.

  • #2
    I don't believe it will be any problem.

    Make an appointment with a local DMV and go talk to them. If the closest one is busy, try the next.

    Or just go there and wait in line.

    Sometimes early AM has long wait lines. I have gone mid afternoon and found only a short wait. YMMV.

    Where are you located?


    • #3
      Hi Doug - thanks for your reply! I'm in San Diego. I agree, from everything I have gathered from previous folks who have bought out-of-state cars, this should be no different. I actually bit the bullet, since the deal would have slipped through my hands by the time I'd have spoken to someone in person at the DMV. I called Sacramento a few times, but the folks there were clueless about SPCNS. Cheers!


      • #4
        Hi. I was in a similar situation. I bought a 2000 Super Sprint 1700 from a dealer in Texas. I'm the third owner. For whatever reason the car was titled as a Ford. I took delivery in early May, 2 weeks after I bought it. Because of COVID it took me four tries to get into DMV once it started opening offices. Some people there didn't know about SB100; but I was fortunate to find someone with at least a passing knowledge. Once I paid my fees and got a temporary registration I had to see the CHP for a VIN verification. I then had to wait 3 weeks for an appointment. The officer was a great guy and the inspection went quickly. Although my car has a 17 digit serial number I was told it didn't meet federal parameters. So I was issued a CA Identification number and a tag was attached to the car in the engine compartment. Next stop is the smog referee at the Bureau of Automotive repair. But to do that I needed a Certificate of Sequence Number. I requested that from DMV when I paid my fees. It took 3 weeks to receive that in the mail. But I couldn't make an appointment until the CHP inspection. I made an appointment a couple days ago and the first available is August 31. But it's going to be a telephone call virtual appointment. Not sure what that will entail and if a physical appointment will come after that. Also the referee stations are not all open right now. I'm in the Folsom area and will have to go to Vallejo or Chico unless other offices are open. They will determine if I'm smog exempt. So, patience is the watch word in getting it registered. Good luck and keep us informed. I will, too. Here are shots of my car and my new ID number plate.
        Attached Files


        • #5
          Originally posted by Ferrino View Post
          I'm in San Diego.
          Where in San Diego?

          I'm in Escondido.


          '62 Lotus Seven
          '84 Turbo Esprit (x2)
          '14 Evora
          '77 Esprit S1 (RIP) :(

          "A man must keep a little back shop where he can be himself without reserve. In solitude alone can he know true freedom." -Michel De Montaigne 1588


          • #6
            Hello heloman,

            What documents did you need to initially provide the DMV, e.g. did you need a Statement of Construction (REG 5036)? I'm in the same boat with a 1980's Seven I just purchased out of the Rhode Island. None of the original build documentation/MSO/receipts exist, so I am trying to establish how to go about proving it was custom built. The title does list it as a 1985 Caterham.



            • #7
              Hello Panamaw. Somehow I missed your question. Very sorry for the delay. In California, for registration for an out of state purchase, I just needed the title and have it inspected by the Highway Patrol. But because it's considered a special constructed vehicle I have to get a smog exemption which is handled by a separate state agency. Much more complicated. Here's what I had to provide the Bureau of Automotive Repair:

              Requirements for referee inspection:
              • Certificate of Sequence
              • VIN verification (REG 31)
              • Application for Assigned Vehicle Identification Plate (REG 124) (if applicable)
              • DMV Report of Deposit of Fees
              • Certificate of Origin
              • DMV Application for Title or Registration (REG 343)
              • Statement of Construction (REG 5036)
              • Statement of Facts (REG 256) (this one is not always necessary)
              • Certificate of Title if not a new construction
              • Brake certificate of compliance
              • Lamp certificate of compliance
              • Receipts for all of the major components including chassis, body, engine, trans.
              • A value for labor must be entered on the statement of construction
              • Pictures of the build are always helpful
              • If the vehicle is being certified as a non-emission controlled vehicle, (1965 Cobra), then at a minimum, it will need to have a closed crankcase with a type 4 PCV.
              It's been months and I still don't have an appointment and I've submitted the information. The DMV has been good about giving me temporary tags until I get the smog exemption.


              • #8

                I believe the listed items are mostly for a NEW build. The Certificate or Origin is something Caterham sent me. The DMV keeps it.

                If you have the out of state title that should be most of all you need, plus the smog inspection. I don't know if a transfer needs the brake and lights but they may.

                Let us know how it works out.



                • #9

                  I'm running into some issues with registering my Caterham 310S in California. It was built last year and titled in WA, and I purchased it from the owner and drove it down to CA. I've done the brake and light inspection, got the sequence number, done the CHP inspection, and paid the sales tax... but when going for the SB-100 exception I got this response:

                  Your vehicle cannot be registered in the state, because the manufacturer Caterham is importing their vehicles without meeting USEPA or California emissions standards. These vehicles do not meet the definition of a specially constructed vehicle. These are made and sold by a small volume manufacturer and they are by passing customs, EPA, and CARB regulations by shipping the vehicle in parts. Your case was reviewed by the California Air Resources Board and the Bureau of Automotive repair. If you have any questions, you can contact my supervisor at <snip>
                  This sounds...serious, like the CARB and BAR no longer want to register Caterhams in the state!?



                  • #10
                    Who built it?

                    Per the California DMV website a specially constructed vehicle is:

                    A specially constructed or modified vehicle (SPCNS) is a homemade or kit vehicle built for private use, not made by a licensed manufacturer and not eligible for resale. These vehicles may be built from a kit and may include a combination of new and used parts, especially if they are constructed using a junked vehicle that was previously dismantled.

                    The Caterham is built from a Kit.

                    If you have the sequence number you should be able to go to your local DMV and complete the registration.

                    See more HERE

                    If the above was given to you by a particular DMV Office, try a different one.



                    • #11
                      If the car was built and or registered in another state there is different pathway to registration in California. At the time it was SB1578 (Senate Bill 1578) the DMV may call it by another name.

                      I don't have personal experience but others on the form have. Search for SB1578



                      • #12
                        It was an old friend of mine that built it, we used to talk about building one 10 years ago, and lockdown for him was a perfect excuse to go and build one with his kids. He enjoyed the process so much he sold me the finished car and immediately ordered another kit!

                        Unfortunately I need the SB-100 exception. It wasn't the DMV that rejected me, it was the BAR who need to put the sticker in the car so I can finish the registration at the DMV.


                        • #13
                          Try a different BAR location if you can. Unless they put 'notes' in your file for the number. I have never heard of any others being denied.


                          • #14
                            Unfortunately this was the phone interview (During COVID it's phone interview first, then in-person later, but I never got to that stage...) and Sacramento that declined me. So I may be screwed.


                            • #15
                              All I know is that you should be able to get it registered. Many others have done so.