• Mar 31, 2008
In California, home of the strictest car emissions regulations in the U.S., cars produced before 1976 do not need to undergo smog testing. California State Senator Dean Florez has proposed legislation that would remove that exemption for cars registered in the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District.
What would that mean if it were passed into law? It would mean that as of January 1, 2009, any car registered in a rather large swathe of central California -- from the 1974 Maverick to the 1929 Model A -- would need to pass every current and future smog test. If it didn't, it couldn't be driven.

It is theorized that the move comes because state authorities have missed their air quality goals and are now looking at targeting a tiny fraction of cars. Living in LA, we can't speak for Central California, but most of the pre-1976 vehicles we see here sound and run better than the glut of 80's Toyotas puttering down the streets. What vintage car owners fear is that if the legislation becomes law in the San Joaquin Valley, then it's only a matter of time before it gets adopted everywhere. Thanks for the tip, Kevin!

[Source: SEMA Action Network]


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  • 40 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago

      Instead of smog testing cars they should should test the brains of California politicians.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm better there are plenty of 25 year old cars on the road in CA. You usually don't have a wad of cash when you cross the border so it's gotta be cheap.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Anyone who's lived in central California for any period of time knows how bad the air there really is. The geography is much more of a culprit than anything else, but the emissions from the pre-'76 vehicles don't help.

      If such a law were to be passed, it should be enforced in costal counties as well. A lot of the crud in the air in the Central Valley just blows in from the bay area and has nowhere to go.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @ Derek:

        What percentage of replies are made without reading?

        The 10% refers to gross polluters. Vintage cars are gross polluters. Also any badly out of tune modern car. Or the fool that has "modified his car for performance" by removing various emissions controls.

        I'm guessing you see them on the roads, at least 10% of the cars. And yes, they do account for >50% of the pollution.

        And while those vintage cars aren't driven much and there aren't that many of them, they pollute like nobody's business. Even a well cared for vintage car is a massive polluter compared to any modern car.

        btw, I'm generally in favor of this. But I think there should be stricter enforcement of smog standards for post 1980 cars, as in forcing owners to keep them in tune. And I think classic cars should be given some sort of exemption if driven less than 500 miles a year. Otherwise, they get to either add emissions controls or pay big fines.

        The baby boomer that dropped 100k+ for his 60's muscle car toy needs to understand that there are consequences to living like a selfish child.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Totally agree. I lived in Merced for several years whilst stationed at Castle AFB before it closed. Consistently the SanJo valley has the largest number of cities with bad air quality; Stockton, Modesto, Sacramento, Fresno, Bakersfield... these always make the list.

        The valley is unique in that it's sorta like a lop sided bowl, and whatever blows in from the West or is generated in the valley can't get East of the Sierra Nevada range or is held in place by high pressure systems (witness dense fog not burning off until 1pm).

        I'm usually not with these sorts of regs, but as I recall the San Joaquin (or at least farmers) got a pass on Smog II for quite some time, while the rest of the state had to comply. Time to pay the piper, imho.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I live in Southern California and have driven through San Joaquin on several occasions.

        If you want to reduce emissions maybe you should add to the beef supply instead and send some more of the millions of cows roaming around those parts to slaughter.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Here is a better idea how about decrease the population of Cali.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Now I understand what all that freeway shooting is all about. Lock 'n Load!!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Not to be an A$$, but that would make for motivated sellers of some prime vintage steel. Then again, the short sighted ninnies in the California Legislatoin would first have to come up with a set of values to achieve. Will they need evaporative controls too? This is complicated stuff.
      • 6 Years Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Great, and how many pre-1976 cars are on the road in San Joaquin county? And of those, how many are driven regularly?

      We're talking about legislation in a state with 30 million people affecting maybe 500 people at most. And probably the 500 poorest people at that.

      Why not pass legislation giving anyone in San Joaquin county $7000 if they trade in a pre-1976 car that they have owned for at least 5 years and is currently registered and running?

      That would basically take old, junker daily drivers off the roads without hammering everyone who collects old cars in the process.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The program is still around, BTW, but they only offer $500 max for old cars.... That's not enough for anyone to buy a newer replacement car.

        If they really wanted to, they could make it so that you could only get a refund if this was the only car registered in your name AND you had had it for 5+ years. That would drastically limit the program to only those who actually drive their cars on a daily basis.
        • 6 Years Ago
        They tried offering cash for junkers to get gross polluters off the road.

        It was hugely successful. People were lined up to get rid of junkers. Unfortunately they only had funding for about 5000 cars, if I remember correctly. Which is basically a drop in the bucket.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I love the idea. My dad would have to get all his silly 1950s collectors cars smogged. lol
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think this is in the vein of the penny wise and dollar foolish mentality.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I live in California, and I drive a 1970 Dodge Dart to school everyday. If this law is passed, I may not be able to drive my car anymore, forcing me to buy a new one (even though it runs very well). Here's to hoping they don't pass this law, and that if they do, my car passes.
      Thomas G Fruge
      • 1 Year Ago
      Smog law one of the many Communist laws being enforced. Control of transportation!
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