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I'm looking at several cars that are currently registered/liscensed outside of California and am getting some contradictory information about what I will have to go through/pay to purchase one of these cars and get it registered here in California. I am only looking at '74 models that are only slightly modified - intake manifold/carb etc.

I have been told that it either:

A.) Will need to pass a 1 time smog check.
B.) That becasue it is pre-'75 and never had catylitic converters that it will not need to be smogged for title change/registration or in the future.

Who is responsible for paying the CA sales tax? I have heard some say the seller is and also that I will be. If the price of the car is $40k - what can I expect to pay?

How are the registration fees based on a car like this?

Thanks for your help. Anything else I should be aware of so that I can negotiate the deal in an appropriate manner?


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Why would some guy in Florida pay the state of California $2900 because you bought his Pantera and you live in California?

YOU will pay 7.25% sales tax, among many other one-time fees when you register the car.

From my experience, you will not need to bring the car for smog if it is a smog exempt car. (74 or earlier, and some 1975)

You will need to bring the car to an actual DMV office with an appointment to have the VIN verified, or pay a "certified DMV VIN verifier" to come by your house. I do not know how many of those guys there are, but they are very useful. I do not know how to find one, except the "hot rod" guys seem to use them a a lot. Check the hot rod forums like H.A.M.B.

You CAN lie about the price to the DMV, if your conscience lets you sleep at night, knowing that some poor DMV worker may be worrying about how many paid vacation days they can spike onto their retirement when they turn 55.

Just don't lie too much about the price, or they will simply demand you get an appraisal.

In terms of negotiating a lower price, based on your living in California, and having to pay high fees, the seller couldn't care less. If anything, they don't want to hear about it, and will jack up the price.

I hear you, I had never heard of a seller paying the sales tax either - people say some strange things.

When I bought my Tahoe in Texas everything was very simple and straightforward because it was a 2001 and all the car manufacturers build their vehicles to CA (highest)smog requirements these days anyway to avoid the hassle of building different cars to different states' specs.

I was/am more concerned about being told that there might be a one-time smog check - although the CA DMV website doesn't seem to confirm this. It's not that the vehicle couldn't be brought back to original kit, it would just be costly and a hassle.

I'll check the VIN verifiers, although my buddy took his Oregon registered Ducati to the local DMV office and they weren't interested in anything other than writing down the VIN.

As far as my conscience goes, I may have trouble sleeping at night sometimes, but never because of worrying about any 'poor' DMV workers and/or their retirement benefits. Is this something new I should add to my 'normal' nocturnal ruminations like my daughters choice of boyfriends or whether the newest celebrity of the moment is getting paid enough for their reality tv show?


I went through this a year ago with my 74. You will need to do the VIN verification. I took mine to DMV and they require the VIN in 2 places along with the "meets federal safty standards" plate in the drivers door jam and the "emissions" plate under the deck lid. I had to source both plates from a vendor but in the end it passed without a trip to a smog station, thankfully!

DMV fees and taxes will be about 10% of the selling price the first go around.
Last edited by tsolo
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