Welcome to the Corvette Forums at the Corvette Action Center!

Need suggestions for getting a modified 1982 corvette registered in CA


Well-known member
Feb 2, 2007
1982 Black Fastback
Where to begin....

The previous owner replaced the crossfire with a standard holley carb.
He also removed the EGR, smog pump, vapor canister, and catalytic converter.

I was living in a state with no emissions tests, so that wasn't a problem when I bought it. A year ago I moved to Northern California (the bay area) and left my Corvette in a friend's garage. Welcome to a state with emissions tests!!!!

I'm tired of being corvette-less, so I want to bring it out here.

I know that I will fail the visual inspection without that equipment in place. I'd fail as soon as they popped the hood, nevermind actually putting it on the dyno and testing the exhaust.

I can only think of three options:

1) Sell the car and find a new one. I don't like this idea and am not considering it.

2) Buy and re-install the emissions equipment. I'm not sure if I would have to put the crossfire back as well as the emissions equipment. I don't like this idea, because I'd spend a lot of time and money to get back the stock performance. I don't like this idea, but would consider it if I could keep the intake manifold and carb. They are CARB level 1, so should be street legal.

3) Buy a 1998+ camaro or trans am. Hopefully i'd spend a few thousand dollars and get a motor, transmission, sensors, and emissions equipment to put into my Corvette. The 4L60E should fit directly where the 700R4 currently is. The LS1 would be a bit more difficult to fit in because I'd have to run wires and get modified motor mounts. I know there is some extra paper work to register a car with a non-original engine, but think it is worth it. I like this idea.

I'm hoping that the very smart (way smarter than me) people here can either come up with a brilliant 4th option that escapes me or offer tips for one of the 3 options I've listed.

Thanks for reading
How about the new GMPP LS3 that is already emissions qualified for Calif. HotRod magazine just did a build on a 79 Camaro.
Couple of thoughts. Trying to find the missing emission equipment may be difficult. One way home may be to find a '82 - '84 Camaro with the Crossfire engine. You could either rob the emission equipment off of it or swap the complete engine, depending on it's condition. The second would be to swap a later model engine with it's emission equipment. I'm thinking '93-'96 LT1 or '96 LT4 here. My understanding is since no model of the '82 Corvettes came with a carb, you are stuck with Crossfire set-up or a later model TPI type system. You can not back date equipment and be legal. You can only update to later items. An California emission approved 4 barrel manifold and carb would only be a legal swap on a engine that originally came with a 4 barrel carb and manifold OR if the vehicle had optional 4 barrel engine offered. Example of that would be a car in which you could get a 350 motor with a 2 barrel or 4 barrel carb. Best bet would be to contact CARB, explain what the problem is and what your options are to make the car California complient.

Not getting on a soapbox here. BUT. People tend to think that because they live in a area where there is no emission testing that they do not have to keep their emission equipment on their car. The truth is Federal law requires the emission equipment to remain intact and in operating order on all '75 and later model vehicles in all 50 states. The state you moved from was not under pressure by the Federal (i.e. EPA) government to enforce emission laws. Should the air quality in your former state decline, the EPA will be mandating the enforcement of those Federal emission laws. Politics of emission laws can and do vary from state to state. I don't like it either but that's the way it is.
In re: #2, your only choice is to restore the exhaust emissions equipment to stock condition both appearance and functionality. There is no such thing as a "CARB level 1" manifold and carburetor which can replace the OE electronic fuel injection and pass the California Smog Check.

In re: #3, generally, with engine swaps which are updates, the emissions control equipment which goes with the engine is required, ie: if you put a 2010 LS3 in the car you need all the 2010 LS3 emissions controls installed as well.

A sort of "alternative #3" is one of the "CARB-legal" engine kits such as what was covered in the aforementioned article in Hot Rod magazine.

in any event, getting an 82 which was converted to a non-emissions intake manifold and carb is going to be time consuming and expensive.

If it's the 82 you like, it actually might be less expensive and certainly less complex to sell the car you have now in the state where it is currently registered then buy an 82 in California and which passes the Smog Check.
From a "passing emissions" perspective, I'd say your best bet is a later "LS" engine with all the electronics and hardware that go with it, or the new GMPP California-certified "LS" crate engine; however, that's going to be very expensive and time-consuming just to get the car to the point where you can register it in California, and you'll be WAY underwater on the car.

I'd vote for selling the car in your previous state and buying another one in California if you really like the '82.

Selling the car and using the money to buy a new one is the most logical solution.

The problem is that this is the first car I ever bought. I guess you could say I'm kind of attached.

I like the 50-state-legal crate engine, but the price is high. Add to that the cost of starter, accessories, brackets, and a transmission (I don't know how long the original 700R4 could handle 430 hp) and i'm paying more for parts than I did the car.

Thanks for the ideas and suggestions everyone.

I'm still thinking.
no 3 would fix all your problems . when you are done it would be 50 state legal and be a great driver .:upthumbs
Tha last post is good info. Basic rule is; if that engine was not offered in the year your car was made, you will need to apply to the CA st emission control referee for a decision as to wether it will be legal.
can anyone else view those links?

The first gets a page not found exception and the other two redirect me to the bar home page.

Hmmm, that first link seems to no longer be available.

Look thru the index's on the other 2, tho, and I' think you'll
find what you need there.
you could always try to find a shop that will "look the other way" lol. Thats what im resulting too. i'm not exactly sure how you would bring that up in conversation but its worth a shot. IMO $120 is worth keeping your car the way you want it :beer
Why would anybody leave a perfectly good state and move to California?
you could always try to find a shop that will "look the other way" lol. Thats what im resulting too. i'm not exactly sure how you would bring that up in conversation but its worth a shot. IMO $120 is worth keeping your car the way you want it :beer
you have to let them know that your car is a 1972.:chuckle
If it were me, I'd start looking for the correct emission equipment to put back on. Start going to swap meets and you should eventually find everything. This is probably the least expensive option or at least the one that doesn't put a immediate big hit on the wallet.

I like the idea of putting a late model engine/trans into the car.
You will get unbeatable reliability and a nice performance jump.
I read that article with the '79 Camaro and it looks like a nice swap.
There is a little bit of fabrication involved, but there are also a lot of vendors that sell swap parts.

What are you looking for here? The car has to return to stock or undergo expensive mods or transplant that MAY OR MAY NOT bring you into compliance. You knew the rules when you got the car. The fact that you lived in a no-inspection state didn't change the laws and regulations about emissions. The people that complain about smog testing probably don't live where you can cut the air with a knife.

Good luck with your decision. Sounds like there isn't a really good (cheap) answer. The good news is there a lots of Xfire intakes around.
i parked your car before!!!!!^^^^^^^^ lol. I remember you brought it to the dealer in Irvine probably half a year ago, maybe longer. I use to work there and i snapped a couple of photo's if you'd like to have them :beer. What a small world :chuckle
I have thought about leaving California, but the weather here is great.

What am I looking for? I'm looking for a way to legally get my car registered and plated in California. I'm not asking for ways to cheat the tests or for a list of inspection stations that will look the other way.

I know that there is nothing special about a 1982 corvette, but this 1982 corvette is special to me.

Corvette Forums

Not a member of the Corvette Action Center?  Join now!  It's free!

Help support the Corvette Action Center!

Supporting Vendors


MacMulkin Chevrolet - The Second Largest Corvette Dealer in the Country!

Advertise with the Corvette Action Center!

Double Your Chances!

Our Partners

Top Bottom