California Smog for 78-81 Camaros?

Discussion in '1978 - 1981 Specific' started by blakel, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. blakel

    blakel New Member

    Oct 11, 2017
    Im 17 years old and looking at buying a 78-81 Camaro for a project. The only thing that scares me is that smog in California is super strict. Any tips for smog or is it not worth it and should i look for something pre 75. Thanks.
  2. Z28SSRS

    Z28SSRS Veteran Member

    May 2, 2009
    Nevada City, CA
    To the best of my knowledge, unless it has changed in recent years, you would not be able to even register your car with California DMV without a smog cert. which would be the seller's responsibility. I think if I were you I would look at buying a pre 75 or 76 model, whatever the cutoff point is for not having to pass smog anymore. This would certainly be easier I think in the long run.
  3. david_396

    david_396 Veteran Member

    May 10, 2002
    Hanford CA
  4. flowjoe

    flowjoe Moderator Staff Member Lifetime Gold Member

    Feb 7, 2006
    Generally speaking, so long as you:
    A) Return the car to OEM configuration with all period smog equipment, etc
    B) Buy CARB certified upgrade components

    You can smog, register and license your proposed 78-81 project no sweat.

    Either option simply takes time and money (as do most projects). I currently own an 82 corvette which smogs because it is all stock (the last smog test I had to replace worn out cat, EGR and the O2 sensor). Member Batman has a HIGHLY modified '79 Camaro with aftermarket intake, headers, cam, etc, etc (even a turbo IIRC) and he is able to smog because all non-stock components are CARB legal.

    Bottom line, if you like the 78-81 cars better then don't let the smog thing stand in your way.

    PS Where are you located? If you are nearby (San Diego area) I have a 71 project I am getting ready to sell if that has any appeal.
  5. Lowend

    Lowend Administrator. .a car, a man, a maraca. Staff Member Lifetime Gold Member

    Mar 25, 1999
    San Jose, CA, USA
    CA smog on that era of car can be a real adventure. A lot of them have odd smog equipment on them like TCS (Transmission Controlled Spark), NoX devices, or the dreaded Computer Controlled Carborator (barf).

    The good news is that most of the smog guys have no idea what any of these things are, so if you pass tailpipe and have the major stuff covered; AIR pump in place and functional, EGR valve, Cats, you'll be ok.

    If it were me... I'd go pre-75 (ok, Pre '73) and avoid the whole mess.
  6. blakel

    blakel New Member

    Oct 11, 2017
    Awesome thanks!
  7. badazz81z28

    badazz81z28 Veteran Member

    May 4, 2001
    Las Vegas, NV
    For the counties that have smog in CA its 75+, Pre-74 do not have catalytic converters and are exempt from testing. Personally I ditched my 78 my in CA in favor of the 70. I wanted big horsepower and be able to register it. You can always do an E-rod swap.

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