What is a collector car?
A collector car is used primarily in shows, parades, charitable functions, and historical exhibitions for display, maintenance, and preservation. It cannot be a vehicle used primarily for transportation. (Vehicle Code section 259)
Are there any requirements to qualify a vehicle as a collector car?
Yes. The vehicle must be insured as a collector car and must meet one of the following requirements:
- The vehicle is at least 35 model-years old. (Health and Safety Code section 44011)
- The vehicle is at least 25 model-years old with historical vehicle license plates. (Vehicle Code section 5004)
- The vehicle is classified as a special interest vehicle. (Vehicle Code section 5051(a-b))
What is a historical vehicle license plate?
A historical vehicle license plate is issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to a vehicle of historic interest that was manufactured after 1922 and is at least 25 model-years old. (Vehicle Code section 5004)
What is a special interest vehicle?
A special interest vehicle is one that is collected, preserved, restored, or maintained by a hobbyist. The vehicle must not be altered from the manufacturer’s original specifications. (Vehicle Code section 5051(b))
Can a specially constructed vehicle qualify as a collector car?
No. A specially constructed vehicle (e.g., kit car) is built for private use, not for resale, and is not constructed by a licensed manufacturer or remanufacturer. (Vehicle Code section 580; Health and Safety Code section 44017.4)
Can a grey market vehicle qualify as a collector car?
No. A grey market (i.e., direct import) vehicle is not manufactured to meet U.S. federal motor vehicle safety standards and/or California emissions standards, and is not intended by the manufacturer to be used or sold in the U.S. For more information on grey market vehicles, visit the California Air Resources Board’s Frequently Asked Questions page.
Do collector cars require a Smog Check?
Collector cars that are model-year 1976 and newer require a Smog Check and are eligible for an abbreviated inspection performed by a state Referee. All vehicles that are model-year 1975 and older do not require a Smog Check. (Health and Safety Code sections 44011(c) and 44012(f))
Can any Smog Check station perform a Smog Check on a collector car?
No. Smog Check stations do not have the equipment necessary to perform the abbreviated inspection on a collector car. For this reason, the inspection must be performed by a state Referee. (Health and Safety Code sections 44011(c) and 44012(f))
How are collector cars inspected?
The Referee will perform an abbreviated inspection. During the inspection, the Referee will:
- Confirm the vehicle meets the criteria for a collector car.
- Confirm proof of insurance as a collector car.
- Perform a Smog Check, which includes the following:
- A test of tailpipe emissions.
- A functional test of the fuel cap.
- A visual check for liquid fuel leaks. (Health and Safety Code section 44011(c))
Note: A collector car classified as a special interest vehicle also will be inspected to ensure it is unaltered from the manufacturer’s original specifications. (Vehicle Code section 5051(b))
What happens after the Referee inspection?
The Referee will provide the vehicle owner a vehicle inspection report that shows the inspection results. If the vehicle passes the inspection, the Referee will issue a certificate of compliance that is electronically sent to DMV. If the vehicle fails the inspection, the Referee will inform the vehicle owner of any deficiencies and whether any emissions repairs are needed. (Health and Safety Code section 44011(a))