Info for importing cars into CA - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-28-2018, 06:41 PM Thread Starter
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Info for importing cars into CA

Hello guys!

Ever since visiting Italy and going to a Palermo Alfisti event I've been dying for either a Alfa Romeo 155, 33 1.7 boxer 16V or even an Alfa Romeo Sei. Had a chance to drive all and absolutely fell in love with all of them.
I'm aware that CA is one of the worst states when it comes to most things but I've been calling around..even the DMV and they can't give me a straight answer. I did end up calling this import service in Santa Barbara that deals with Italian Imports called A&A Import Service and he told me that he had seen a couple of Alfa Romeo 155's in the state but didn't know the extent of how they got here lol and advised me to ask on this great site. Any suggestions? help would be GREATLY appreciated
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-29-2018, 05:27 AM
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I had tried to bring a 1971 BMW in from France. For the Fed requirements, because it was over 25 years, were no problem for DOT and EPA as it was exempt. I was originally told in CA because older than 1975, typical year for no smog, noting in addition would be required. But later learned it needed to be older than 1968 (I could be a few yeas off here...) and DMV required me to meet smog standards. Car wasn't worth the cost of all the work so I sold car to guy who had house in Mexico. The people at the local DMV don't know this kind of stuff. I seemed to remember finally talking to a DMV person in the main office in Sacramento who seemed knowledgeable. Many other states just follow the Fed guidelines so it's typically straight forward. But if you're in CA process with caution.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-29-2018, 02:29 PM
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Yeah, California is pretty brutal on importing cars from the late 60s/early 70s. I recall reading a DMV notice a few years back that essentially said "forget about it." Perhaps it was an earlier version of the current CA DMV link:

How To: Register a Vehicle Imported From Another Country (Direct Import) (HTVR 9A)

which includes this critical guidance:

Quote:
A direct import is a vehicle that is not manufactured to meet U.S. federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) and/or California emissions standards and not intended by the manufacturer to be used or sold in the U.S.

It may be very costly or impossible to modify vehicles not originally manufactured to meet California Air Resources Board (CARB) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions requirements, and Department of Transportation (DOT) FMVSS.

Not all direct import vehicles over two years old can be converted to California emissions standards and FMVSS. If the vehicle is a 1968 or newer year-model auto or commercial vehicle, or a 1978 or newer year model motorcycle that does not comply with EPA or CARB emission requirements, contact CARB by phone at 1-800-242-4450 or by email at [email protected].

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-29-2018, 02:52 PM
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I suspect that you would encounter problems in any state if you tried to import or register a car that was not manufactured to meet U.S. federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS). My guess is that the 155, 33 1.7 boxer 16V and Sei are new enough to fall into that class.

For something post-1967, but pre-1976 (e.g., pre- smog inspection), like kjf654321's '71 BMW, I wonder if someone could register it first in another state and then in California. Admittedly a lot of trouble unless you have a second home in that other state.

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Last edited by Alfajay; 05-29-2018 at 05:16 PM.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-01-2018, 10:36 AM
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In addition to all the above statements, you will unlikely to get insurance as the VIN will not be in any of the insurers data base. Then you might be able to get an underwriters, but will the state recognize it.
A lot of trouble for something that could end up in the US Customs shredder.
Cheers, Jon

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-01-2018, 10:42 AM
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But, but....
There are these dealer guys in California who do this all of the time !

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-06-2018, 04:44 AM
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Some misinformation trickling into this thread. First a 25+ old car can be titled and registered in most states, with CA being the exception ... at least on paper. But there are private DMV expediters in CA who can assist with registering pre-'76 and post '68 cars. In other states one might have to subject said cars to the periodic safety inspection for seatbelts, etc. As for insurance, one doesn't need to have a car titled / registered to insure it. And Hagerty will readily insure all of the vintage cars that fall into the cited age range. Other insurance companies will as well ... the existence of a VIN in a database doesn't matter. Only post-1981 VINs are database documented, when the format became standardized.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-06-2018, 08:02 AM
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The original request concerned a newer Alfa that did not comply to DOT regulations concerning importing to USA. Vehicles older than 25 years fall under a different regulations. In conversations with my insurance agent about a Alfa 916 for sale, which was not originally sold in the USA, he indicated that his company could not insure it because it was not in their data base. Other companies may insure them. I did no pursue with other companies.
If I provided inaccurate information, that was not my intent.
Cheers, Jon

Present:
1967 Spider
1974 GTV (1969 Tribute)
1993 Spider ( project)
2018 Stelvio
Past:
1964 Giulia Sprint. 1966 Giulietta 101 Sprint
1967 Super 1968 GTV 1974 Berlina
1979 Alfetta Mille Miglia 1987 Milano
Non Alfa:
1953 MGTD 1958 TR3 1962 AH 3000 MKII
1969 AMX

Last edited by not2old4toys; 06-15-2018 at 08:40 AM.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-06-2018, 10:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hans2
As for insurance, one doesn't need to have a car titled / registered to insure it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by not2old4toys View Post
In conversations with my insurance agent about a Alfa 916 for sale, which was not originally sold in the USA, he indicated that his company could not insure it because it was not in their data base.
As I read these two posts, I don't see a clear contradiction. Hans2 is right - you can insure anything against loss/theft/fire. I have artwork that is insured, but it certainly isn't registered with the DMV. Similarly, my carrier has happily sold me loss/theft/fire coverage for cars while they were on non-op status (incidentally, it's cheap).

I think not2old4toys' point is that you need liability insurance to register a car (at least here in California). And the insurance companies aren't going to issue liability coverage on a vehicle that hasn't passed US crash tests.

Jay Mackro
San Juan Capistrano, CA

'63 Guilia spider
'65 Guilia Sprint GT
'67 Duetto
'91 164L

Last edited by Alfajay; 06-06-2018 at 10:14 AM.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-06-2018, 12:47 PM
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Very lucid, as usual !!

'64 Guilia Spider
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-15-2018, 04:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by not2old4toys View Post
The original request concerned a newer Alfa that did not comply to DOT regulations concerning importing to USA.

The original post cites vehicles that, for certain build years, are 25 and older. Regardless, I'm fairly certain classic car insurance companies like Hagerty aren't concerned about a given vehicle's crash test performance when issuing liability insurance. They will liability insure a Model T as readily as an Alfa Sei. The cost to repair said vehicles from a typical accident is theoretically factored into the insurance premium.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-16-2019, 11:09 AM
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I just want to share my recent experience, on this topic. I just imported a car from another state(NM) that i think was sold in Italy originally. It was a 1968 105 and they look for a sticker that states it meets U.S. federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) and/or California emissions standards. Well mine doesn't have it, so I had to go get an inspection from the CHP, let me tell you that is not a fun experience. They basically do a safety, document and physical inspection whatever the office feels like doing. well the car is registered now, but the only thing that helped was that the car was registered in another state in the US previously. Otherwise forget it, i would not import a 1968 or newer car. I hope this helps others in the future.
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