The Magical SB100–Registering Your Car In California

The SB100 is THE method for Catfish registration in California, and makes 500 vouchers available every year for people who want to register specially-constructed cars.  These could be dune buggies, Cobra replicas, or your own “garage creation” that you now want to take on the road.  Or a Catfish.  The real hero of SB100 is retired State Senator K. Maurice Johannessen, who was apparently a Cobra kit car fanatic and saw the need for legislation that covered these types of cars.  He pushed through legislation that now allows us to enjoy our vehicles while at the same time support our local shops and suppliers, which helps the local economy.  Win.

Since there are many more DMV workers than vouchers, it’s very possible that you’ll take your paperwork up to the DMV window and that worker won’t have a clue where to start.  We’ve been through the process and followed a simple web PDF download that’s linked below.

The PDF has been around for a while and is very useful, but there have been a few slight changes since it has been written:

Availability–SB100 Vouchers were once snatched up on the first hours of the first day the DMV was opened during a new year.  Now because the initial demand has been met and the economy isn’t that strong, vouchers are freely available at any time of the year.

In brief, the SB100 systems means visits to the following places:

DMV–these guys control the paperwork.  They start the process, end the process, and (not surprisingly) take your money at the end.  Keep ALL of your build invoices so that California gets it’s required tax cut.  Note #1–keep ALL paperwork with the car in a waterproof bag, and make a copy of ALL in case the DMV or CHP want to take any of the copies.  All the paperwork is required at each stop.  Note #2–the DMV will give you a 1 month temporary sticker that allows you to drive your car to the appointments below.  Ask for a 3 month tag, as some appointments can be delayed 2-3 weeks.

CHP–There are specific Highway Patrol offices and specific officers who will review your paperwork.  The number one thing the CHP is looking for is are VIN numbers from stolen cars.  Please make sure you’re buying a legal donor car, as finding out it was stolen can ruin your day.  The CHP will review your paperwork, the engine and transmission numbers, and then will affix a new VIN to the car.  But there are a couple more stops needed.

Light & Brake inspection–This is a certified shop that makes sure that your lights and signals work (including reverse), and that the brakes are in proper working order.  More paperwork follows and then you’re on your way.  Interesting note:  If the DMV doesn’t write down that you need an inspection, you can pass up this step.

BAR exam–The Bureau of Automotive Repair stations are often on a college campus, and the visit is free of charge.  This used to be where they’d put the car on the dyno, take and exhaust measurement, and then give you a paper that said you are smog exempt.  Hmmm.  They’ve dispensed with the dyno (for obvious reasons), but will check to see that your valve cover vents back to the air intake and other small items.

One last note:  The SB100 was written to allow us enthusiasts to get our cars on the road.  It was also intended to make sure that our cars are safe, and have the basic items needed for road use.  A third component is liability–the person liable for a safe and working car is not the DMV, not the CHP or BAR or even your brake inspector; it’s YOU.

The download PDF to the SB100 process is HERE.



  • Steve Rounds says:

    I went to my local CHP office and showed them pictures of the Bauer Catfish that I had taken at SEMA. They said the Catfish would NOT be legal in California because the California Vehicle Code requires “an adequate safety glass windshield and an automatic wiper”. They showed me the actual written code requirement. I tried contacting, per your suggestion, the San Diego Ariel Atom dealer about this (Ariel has an optional glass windshield), but never got a return call. Any comments?

    • Cord says:

      Steve, we try to stay within the bounds of the law, so our windshield is made from DOT legal safety glass and is marked as such. We’re working on a full-sized glass windscreen which will be backwards-compatible with our current cars sold and will include a wiper system. Our BAR referee had the same question and called the DMV headquarters, and then issued our BAR certificate. Please contact me for all the details. Cord

  • LARRY says:

    I just bought a 1965 Superformance Cobra, I bought it in Texas. It was manufactured in 2002,but it was registered in Calif 01/07/2003 under the “SB 100 SEQUENCE 2002325” with a V.I.N. CA864908. I live in Calif. So do I have to go thru the “SB100 SEQUENCE 2002325” process again?
    Thanks for your help LARRY

    • Cord says:

      As far as I know, as long as the VIN is registered in California and has the frame tags to prove it, you’ve got a legal California car.

    • Travis says:

      Hi Larry – I am looking to buy a Cobra that was previously registered under SB100 in California, then went to live out of state for a few years. Was it a problem for you to bring your Cobra back from Texas? Any weird hoops or hurdles? Appreciate the help, and want to know before I buy it!

  • Larry says:

    I bought a Cobra with the #SPO1439 Registered in Calif. 01/07/2003, I would like to know the first owner so I could get the motor build sheet.
    Any help would be great Thanks Larry

  • Kalila says:

    Is there a limit on years? For example if I wanted to register a 1931 vehicle would that fall within the allowed years for kit cars? Or is there a specific body style year that is allowed?

  • Kalila says:

    Sorry, I don’t think I explained the situation very well. It is a replica of a 1931 Bentley, but a kit car. They don’t assign limits on reproduction year limits do they? Like an SPCNS must replicate the looks of a vehicle between such and such year and such and such year? I hope I made that a little more clear 🙂

    • Cord says:

      If you build a 1931 Bentley kit car in California, you license it as a 1931 vehicle under SPCN. You will license it under “body style” rather than engine type, which makes the whole process fairly easy.

  • Vicki says:

    My husband and I have just started the process of registering his SPC, 1965 Shelby Cobra. We just went to the DMV and they said they could not issue us the SB 100 Certificate of Sequence # until we had the brake and light inspection, CHP VIN # and smog exempt inspection paperwork. I do not think this is right! Do you have any suggestions if I go back to the DMV this week to get them to issue me the Certificate of Sequence #?

    • Cord says:

      Hi Vicki,

      I just sent you a detailed list of what you need to do in order to get your SB100. Please look in your junk mail in case it went directly there–a PDF was included. Good luck. 🙂

  • jack delore says:

    I am in the process of trying to register a1965 cobra kit car. I have been to the DMV and received my sequence number, I have been to the CHP and have completed my brake and light inspection. I went to the referee this week and after a couple of hours he refused to certify the car. I gave him the invoice from the kit company and the invoice from the guy I had supply and install the power train, but he said it looked to professional and not really built by a hobist. Am I missing something in the requirements, I was very careful to separate everything so it wouldn’t be a turn key car.

    • Cord says:

      In some ways I guess I should be congratulating you. 🙂 What the BAR referee did is not really his decision to make, but unfortunately sometimes these guys decide to interpret the law as they see fit. My first response is to take it to the next closest BAR station. If they give you a similar story, have them call Sacramento right there. DO NOT LEAVE until they escalate the issue and get a resolution. They’re not there to have a “feeling” about the build quality. They’re just supposed to make sure the that required parts are on the car, and that it’s roadworthy. The CHIP’s do their job, and the DMV does theirs. One of the reasons for this dance is that in the end it absolves the State of responsibility, because YOU in the end are the responsible party. If your car catches fire on the way home, it’s on YOU, not the DMV or the CHP or the BAR station. That said, I’d check with your kit car company for any other thoughts, as well as suggestions for BAR stations with personnel with enough experience to do the job right. Good luck!

    • Evan says:

      Were you able to get the car through the registration at another BAR station and/or through Sacramento?

  • Anthony says:

    I’m in the process of buying a used backdraft racing cobra from Oregon and was wondering if the SB100 tag is still available if I was not the one who built it (backdraft racing in Florida). Is it still considered a kit car? It already has a vin. What receipts do I need specifically? Thanks.

    • Cord says:

      AFAIK, if the current car is licensed in Oregon then you can use the same VIN numbers to license it in California. Sorry, but this is a question for the DMV, or if you’re a AAA member talk to them as their lines are much shorter. 🙂

    • Cord says:

      SB100 vouchers are readily available. If you go to the DMV, it’s quite likely you’ll get a SB100 voucher available from last year. Bring all receipts, as that is what the DMV will use to value the car. Although it has a VIN, the DMV will give it another SB100 VIN tag that will be used for the SB100 process.

  • Lewis says:

    Hello Cord,

    I have recently purchased a Superformance Cobra from a dealer in Illinois (the car was built in approx. 2003 for the previous owner). The dealer has not sent the Title yet.

    Is the vehicle eligible for registration under SB 100 given the circumstances?

    Thank you

    • Cord says:

      Hi Lewis,

      Why hasn’t the dealer sent the title? If you’ve got one, chances are you won’t need to go the SB100 route.

    • Cord says:

      AFAIK, yes. It obviously will be easier with the title in hand, which the DMV will most-likely take. However, I’d hold onto it until the SB100 process is completed, just in case for whatever reason your car doesn’t pass (theft of parts, etc.).

  • John says:

    Hi Cord,
    I am considering buying a used AC Cobra that already has a Calif. SB 100 sticker. It has been 30 yrs since I’ve purchased a car from an individual instead of from a dealer and I’ve never had to deal with a SB 100 issue. When I transfer ownership/registration to my name, is there anything special I need to do regarding transfer of the SB 100 sticker? Or do I just register the car in my name and all is done and there are no issues with the DMV?
    Thank you.

    • Cord says:

      Hi John, Sorry for the late reply. The SB100 tag transfers seamlessly from one owner to the next, and you will also be exempt from smog testing every two years. Score!

      • Stanley Murawski says:

        Are you saying that a SMOG inspection is NOT requited to transfer the title to an SB100 registered specially constructed vehicle?

        • Cord says:

          SB100 vehicles are smog exempt. Even in wacky California I can’t imagine requiring a smog test for an exempt vehicle. It’s as if you’re selling a 1965 Mustang–no smog needed.

  • jim says:

    Hi Cord
    I purchased a manx style dune buggy in 2008 from someone in the desert where they don’t require a smog. They purchased it from Arizona had it non-oped until they sold it to me. they registered it in California as a 2008 Special Constricted Vehicle (SPCNS) but has an Arizona Vin. Signed title over to me..6 years later i get a renewal from DMV requiring a smog. went to referee..was told to start senate bill 100 process. Did that at DMV but at CHP was told not a SB100 candidate because of the Arizona Vin. Back to referee..said its up to DMV who is candidate…doesn’t understand why. Any answers or advice.
    Thank you

    • Cord says:

      If you’re going to license it in California, you need to have built it here. Short of taking off any AZ vin verification and starting the SB100 process from new–something that would most likely be illegal–you might need to somehow re-register as AZ.

  • Larry Moore says:

    Purchased a ‘Cobray’ kit car ( cobra-esq’ body on a C-3 frame ) It was titled and licensed in Arizona as a 1966 Cobra, mileage on title states 125,000 miles. AZ VIN and build date is 2005 tag stamp on fire wall. I’m a California residence – trying to get this car registered in Calif. DMV is having a challenge ‘putting the square peg in the round hole’ ….I’ve paid the taxes, have a temporary tag so I can drive the car and full coverage insurance.

    Can you help clarify what steps I should take at this point – It’s August 19, 2015 and I have an appointment with CHP Inspection center October 1, 2015
    Thanks in advance for your recommendations

    • Cord says:

      Hi Larry, Square peg round hole? DMV in a nutshell. Sometimes it’s the luck of the draw regarding whose aisle you end up occupying. If you are going through the SB100 process, then look for this link online: SB100 Registration . It’s a little out of date but should serve you well.

    • Phil Maxfield says:

      Hi Larry,
      I am in the exact same boat that you were in last year. Purchased a Florida registered 1965 Cobra and am try to get it registered. I’ve paid my taxes and have a temp registration card. Can you please share with me how you were able to complete the process. Much appreciated!

  • Robert says:

    Question:I bought a doner car that I never registered and will only use the engine for my FFR kit car build.
    How do I determine the purchase price of
    just the engine?

  • James Cuba says:

    I saw back in April you emailed Vicki a PDF of how to register a vehicle using California SB100.

    Can you please email me the same document??

    Thank you so much! I really appreciate reading your information here. Very informative!!!


  • I left a message but don’t know if you received it and if it was clear. I had a Austin Healey replica”Sebring MX with SB100 status and lost it in an acciden. It was totalled, just prior to upgrading the engine, trans and rear end. The tow yard sold it in a lien sale because the insurance company left it there too long so I could not buy it back.I would like to get another one to put my drive train in but since they are out of production I can only purchase one that is already built and registered in another state, possibly California. Would I be able to get SB100 status? Possibly rebuild it , or is there any way I could go about this? It had a six digit or so serial number on the frame and I had no manufacturer document but a bill of sale from the previous owner. I still have all the reciepts I believe the only number they used on the pink was the number the Highway patrol affixed to the frame. What might you do?

    • Cord says:

      Sorry, did not get your original message. As far as I know–and I am NOT an expert on this–an out of state title that shows your model year that matches the age of the original car (1965, 1957, etc.) will need to match the safety and emissions regulations of that year. If it shows a newer date for an older replica car, then chances are you’ll need an SB100. The SB100 voucher was created specifically for Cobras, Austin Healey, etceteras. It’s a “process” that you need to go through, but it’s by no means impossible. Just inconvenient. As it states in the PDF, California wants your money…they don’t necessarily want to ban your car from the road.

  • Manfred says:

    Hi, I bought a Superformance S1 that has been registered in Texas. The year of the car on the title says 2002 and the car has a VIN issued by the kit car manufacturer. Since I did not built that car I do not have receipts or an MSO ( Manufacturers Statement of Origin).
    If I apply for a SB100 registration is it enough to just show the ‘bill of sales’, which has the sales price and should I present the Texas title as well?

    • Cord says:

      Hi Manfred, one thing everyone needs to understand about this advice is that it’s free. And that’s also what it’s worth. 🙂 Luckily Superformance is a California company, and I know they’ve got a great reputation. I’d cut out the middleman and contact them directly. They can probably tell you if you even need the original MSO. If not, they may be able to furnish you with something acceptable for the state of California, or at least put you on the right path. You’re in the Superformance family now. 🙂 Have fun!

  • ED says:

    Putting a 1965 Travellette Body on my 1994 Chevy Prerunner frame using all the 1994 engine, trans, etc can this be registered using SB100?

    • Cord says:

      Chances are if you’ve got a complete frame/engine from the Prerunner, they’re going to call it a 1994 Chevy. People are still registering off-road buggies using VW bug pans. I’ve seen 1,000hp + off-road MONSTERS that are hiding a buggy pan. And that makes them a cute little VW bug.

  • Mike says:

    I’m looking to buy a 67 Cobra replica that is registered as a mid 90s vehicle and therefore subject to semi-annual smog.
    What steps would I need to go through to get it registered under the SB100 or is that even possible at this point?

    • Cord says:

      AFAIK, if you’re registered then you’re registered. If it’s an out of state registration then that point may be open for discussion, but I honestly don’t have the answer.

  • david doyel says:

    I bought an Ac replica approx 15 yrs ago. At the time the DMV had the 25 yr rule. The car was registered in Texas as a 1979. I was a couple years from being able to fall into the 25 yr old exempt rule and then they froze it at 1976. I haven’t driven the car since. Do I have a chance at a Sb100 certificate ? Thanks.

  • Logan says:

    I’ve looked all over, but I can’t seem to find the CA legal requirements regarding tires on home built cars. Specifically, regarding requirements for highway legal tracked vehicles. Any info would be greatly appreciated..

    • Cord says:

      DOT approved tires are stamped “DOT”. They require two grooves at minimum, as well as other requirements. Only the truly dumb go to the DMV with racing slicks. Otherwise they will simply look to see if the tires are roadworthy. In other words, are the sidewalls cracked and have cord showing, or are they new and with appropriate tread?

  • Nick says:

    Hi I was thinking of build an 818 kit car from factory five is there any problems with that considering it is not a replica of any old car? And if I build it in a different state and then bring it to California with that be a problem? Thank you for your time.

    • Cord says:

      The 818 falls within the SB100 category for California. Make sure you follow the instructions, and make sure you’ve got receipts for all the big stuff. The CHP will be trying to make sure you didn’t get your parts from a “chop shop”.

  • Mike says:

    I have a backdraft racing AC Cobra replica that is titled and registered in NJ as a 2008 reconstructed vehicle. I would like to bring the car to CA and get it registered under SB100. Since the car was titled and inspected by NJ DMV does it need to go through the full SB100 process including inspections? Can I do all the paperwork before I ship the car cross country? Thanks for any advice

    • Cord says:

      I “think” that depends on what year the car is registered. If it’s given an old registration date (1965), then I think you can transfer registration over. If it’s newer (1995), then the car would have to pass smog for the year in which it’s registered. If so, you might need to go through the SB100 process. This is definitely a question for the DMV. Sorry.

  • Tim says:

    I have a very similar situation as Mike. I am looking to buy a Cobra replica that is registered in MA as a 2007 vehicle. The body style is a 1965 Cobra manufactured by Backdraft Racing. If I buy the car I am worried that I won’t be able to get it through the California registration process. It is used and comes with all the build receipts, but since the original owner had to surrender the MSO to register the car in MA I will not have that as a part of the transaction. I would value you opinion as to whether I will be able to get through the process with those conditions in mind. In summary, not manufactured in California, no MSO available, registered as a 2007 vehicle in MA, and I am buying it used from a third party.

  • John Martin says:

    I am interested in purchasing a Superformance Cobra that was originally purchased in 2006 in Ca, and registered in Ca under the SB100 Bill. It was later traded to a dealer in Palm Beach, Florida. It still had the Ca. SB100 VIN number. My question is can I register it in Ca? And if so, what do I need to do to accomplish that? Thank you, John Martin

  • Steve A says:

    I am getting ready to buy a 1966 Chevelle.
    I have read cars newer than 1966 need to be smoged for change of ownership
    and cars older than 1966 do not. How ever I can’t find information on a 1966 model. Is it considered exempt from the 1 time smog, or will i have to smog it for transfer of ownership.
    Thank you, Steve A

  • jeff says:

    Hi . We won a superformance cobra . The bar guy said we cant reg in ca because is turnkey.

    • Cord says:

      There are worse things in life. 🙂 Congratulations! Hey, Superformance is in California…perhaps you should contact with them. Maybe you can come up with a creative solution.

  • luke mauriello says:

    I’m thinking about buying a speedster that was built in 1995 that dosent have a vw pan, and has never been registered in ca. it was built by cmc in fl. and not in business anymore. do you think i will be able to jump through the hoops or should i not buy this one?

    • Cord says:

      I think you’ll have problems. The DMV don’t have a habit of sticking their necks out for cars that don’t conform to their rules. If you had an old VIN, you’d probably have no issues.

  • Kevin Pringle says:

    I am building a batmobile on a 1995 caprice. The chassis was stretched 2ft but has same front a rear end, engine, and tranny, everything else is custom. I have a lot of mixed info as to how this should be registered. Some say keep it registered as a caprice as it is just a body mod and doesn’t need to go through and rigorous inspection or process. The other side is saying that because it is not visually recognizable as a caprice at all that I have to register it differently such as sb100 or a modofir caprice. Not sure how the chp would deal with it once they see it on the road….

    • Cord says:

      If the engine and frame are from the same car, I’m pretty sure it will be considered the same car. You’ll be required to pass smog and safety for the same year as your Caprice.

  • Michael Warren says:

    Here is one for ya
    1936 Ford 1 1/2 ton Panel Delivery Deluxe.
    Engine 2008 Pontiac G8 L76 Package- 6.0 Liter 361 hp and 6L80e Six speed.
    I will be keeping as many stock sensors and catalytic converter as i can being an engine swap.
    I haven’t found out if i can install a Custom gas tank around 20 to 30 gallons yet?
    Also if I need to use the Charcoal Canister EVAP engine Had?

    • Cord says:

      Your EPA requirements are based on what was required in 1936. It would be less about the charcoal canister and more about whether your windshield has wipers and safety glass or not. For emissions, you’re in the clear.

  • Michael Warren says:

    Here is one for ya
    1936 Ford 1 1/2 ton Panel Delivery Deluxe.
    Engine 2008 Pontiac G8 L76 Package- 6.0 Liter 361 hp and 6L80e Six speed.
    I will be keeping as many stock sensors and catalytic converter as i can being an engine swap.
    I haven’t found out if i can install a Custom gas tank around 20 to 30 gallons yet?
    Also if I need to use the Charcoal Canister EVAP engine Had?
    Also 4 wheel disk brakes with out limited slip?
    Will be using body not engine!

  • Hi
    Here is one for ya
    1936 Ford 1 1/2 ton Panel Delivery Deluxe.
    Engine 2008 Pontiac G8 L76 Package- 6.0 Liter 361 hp and 6L80e Six speed.
    I will be keeping as many stock sensors and catalytic converter as i can being an engine swap.
    I haven’t found out if i can install a Custom gas tank around 20 to 30 gallons yet?
    Also if I need to use the Charcoal Canister EVAP engine Had?
    Also 4 wheel disk brakes with out limited slip?
    Will be using body not engine!

  • Jeff Waterman says:

    Making 1923 Bucket T.
    1. Bought 1970 LS6 decades ago for $1100. Have spent much more on pistons, crank, flywheel, clutch,etc. do I need receipt for every Summit racing part (e.g. Chrome fuel pump)?
    2. Got Muncie 4 speed from hot rod shop in Los Angelas for $650, have receipt. If, as an example, I got taken, and CHP find Muncie is stolen, do I lose whole car, what happens?
    3. Not a kit car, I’m welding, machining, building everything myself. As such, what do I do about MSO?
    4. How do I do my labor? What labor rate?
    5. I’ve got 100 receipts, just for engine parts.
    Thank you in advance.

    • Cord says:

      You’re responsible to show that the engine wasn’t stolen. The extra parts that never had a number don’t count. You’re also required…generally…to make sure you meet the requirements for a car in 1923. That’s a pretty damn low bar, but shatterproof glass is among them.

  • Mike Shaw says:

    I’m looking at buy a replica that has a BAR/SB100 sticker on the firewall but no paperwork nor plates. It has an SB100 number issued 3/5/2002. My question is what do I have to do to get the car titled and plated in CA. Thank you in advance.

    • Cord says:

      If it’s got a BAR sticker, that means the DMV has a record of the car. You should be able to get everything you need from the DMV, or possibly even AAA which has shorter lines. Missing paperwork is taken care of just like a normal car, and the SB100 VIN is really what you need to get your paperwork.

      • Mike Shaw says:

        I called DMV, gave them all the numbers (VIN, SB100) and was told that because the last time any action was taken on the car was in 2002 that it had been dropped from the system and I would have to start the entire process over again. Any ideas of what I can do next ?
        Again, thank you in advance.

        • Cord says:

          It sounds to me like the SB100 process was started but not completed. It is possible to get the needed tags from the CHP (VIN #), but if the process isn’t finished at the DMV then you don’t get plates. There’s CHP, Brake & Light inspection as a shop that’s certified by the state, and then you need to go to a BAR station for final examination….before going BACK to the DMV for plates and papers. The vehicle will need DOT compliant lights, windscreen, wipers, defroster, and no funny business with the engine. For example, the valve cover can’t vent to air.

          As mentioned prior, if the DMV allows it, ask for more time to get the process done as the BAR and CHP can be a long wait.

  • J. McEdwards says:

    Just moved to CA from Michigan with my 2001 C5 “frankenvette”. I call it that because of the extensive changes I’ve done to it to make it a successful roadracing track car. The body and frame are the only components that remain a true C5 Corvette; the engine is a crate LS3, the tranny, rear end and suspension bits come from a doner 2004 corvette. Do I have a chance of getting an SB100 tag?

    • Cord says:

      If the frame remains then the VIN number should remain as well. That makes your FrankenVette a Vette. You should be able to license it as a Corvette, although there are CARB requirements for replacing the engine, and the smog requirements will be the same as for a 2004 Vette. If your LS3 is an E-rod package then your paperwork should go a bit easier.

  • Dominic says:

    I have a 1978 January xj6 that I swapped a V8 and a t-56 into and I want to do some extreme body work on it by adding carbon fiber/ fiberglass panels over the existing body to make it look like a cross of a 60’s barracuda and a GT40 would this qualify for sb100 ? Or not because it’s the same body and subframes from the jag ( it’s a unibody so no frame).

  • TKlu says:

    In California, if I used a pre 1974 vehicle with with a frame, removed the body, installed a tandem seating configuration and replace the engine with a 4 or 6 cyl inline does the registration stay the same as the donor vehicle?
    How do Ratrods fit into the registration game?
    Can you wear a helmet instead of having a windshield?

    • Cord says:

      This is a question for someone at the DMV, or possibly AAA. If you remove the body–and the VIN along with it, you no longer have a vehicle that can be registered as whatever it was in a prior life. An engine swap is an engine swap. So if you’ve removed the VIN and made your RatRod, you might need to go the SB100 route. No, helmets do not take the place of a windscreen with DOT compliant safety glass, wipers and (technically) a defroster.

  • Rusty says:

    Hello, im looking at an early CMI porsche 550 spyder replica, its not a vw pan kit, its a full frame , will i have any trouble titleing this in Texas?

    • Cord says:

      Nice car! One of my favorites. I’m not up on Texas rules and regulations, although chances are that a previously titled car will have no problems being registered in Texas.

  • […] Visit this site for a more thorough discussion of the SB100 process and how best to navigate it. […]

  • Joe says:

    Impressive to have the questions answered! Thanks Cord!
    Quick question, is it possible to have a stock Nissan 2004 Z v6 3.5L with a Toyota engine swap 3.0 L inline 6? (Japanese engine) I know the old Lexus IS 300 2002 had this engine in the US market.

  • Kaylee says:

    Hello Cord!
    Another question for you. If a vehicle has never been registered under the SB100 rule but came from out of state are you still eligible for this? What I have heard from some people is that if you are not the original owner/builder of the kit car with the MSO you are basically eligible to apply for this in California but I have heard conflicting information regarding owners down the line being able to register via SB100.
    Thank you in advance for your help!

    • Cord says:

      I honestly don’t have an answer for you. It may be possible to take the out of state title to the DMV, but they may require you to take it to the BAR station, or at the very least have it smog tested based on the year stated on the title. One thing you definitely want to do is have the answer before you start the process.

  • Jeff Thompson says:

    Spent $22,000 to build a 1923 bucket T went to dmv registration was $891 no sb100# sent me to bar station can’t get appointment without sb100# besides the referee over the phone told me not eligible for that program. Also said have to comply with 2018 smog. They totally screwed me. So now the vehicle I put my time, heart and soul into is now listed on ebay. I’m done with California they are the worst.

    • Cord says:

      If the 1923 was based on a REAL T bucket then it would be registered as such. If it’s a recreation then it falls under the SB100 rules. Any person along the process may be unruly and really set you back. The BAR station guy is completely wrong AFAIK. You however are correct about California. It really is the worst for business of all 50 states on a very consistent basis.

  • William Guzman says:

    Building Locost (Lotus 7 replica)
    Using a 2015 ecoboost engine from a Ford Focus ST

    • Cord says:

      Very good choice. This would be covered under SB100, especially as the Locost references a past (iconic) vehicle. You should be able to pick the year range for the car as well. Of note–plastic windshields are NOT DOT compliant. I saw an LS-powered Lotus 7+ copy this weekend at a car show, and while the gentleman did get the car licensed, it’s only because that particular CHP officer or BAR referee decided not to fail the car based on that infraction. Technically all cars require DOT compliant windshields (safety glass with a plastic laminate center), windshield wipers, and even a defroster. We all know that there are PLENTY of Cobras running around without defrosters and wipers, but it simply bears mentioning.

  • William Guzman says:

    Thank you for the fast reply
    Feel a little better. But not comfortable to be dependent on a BAR refere personal thinking.

    I really appreciate you helping us with your knowledge and experience
    Thank you very much.

    • Cord says:

      Hi William, I’m not an expert as much as someone who has gone through the process, and also someone who needs to know the rules because I build the Catfish. It’s very frustrating to follow rules, but to have them applied differently by different people. I know for a fact that some states are as lenient about these rules as California is stringent and arbitrary. Safety should be paramount for everyone–especially those of use who will rely on our own mechanical knowledge to keep us safe while we’re driving at extra-legal speeds on a race track. So yes, there is a need for rules. Hopefully their application corresponds to their intent–safety rules are paramount, while ticky-tack rules are considered just that…ticky tack.

  • AL says:


    I would like to build a factory five 1935 hot rod truck. Do you know if the chp will require windshield wipers, back up lights and does the windshield need to be a specific kind of safety glass windshield?


    • Cord says:

      Technically I think the DMV will require anything that was required in 1935. That would be a safety glass windshield, wipers, and most likely a defroster. Although a little temporary fan on your dash would cover that, if they even asked.

      While the engine doesn’t require Catalytic converters, they will most likely want any valve cover vents to go back into the intake and not vent to air. That’s just a guess though.

  • Stan Murawski says:

    I have an SB100 registered vehicle. If I sell it, what does it take to transfer ownership to a new owner? Specifically is a SMOG inspection required and if yes will it need to be done by a BAR referee?

  • Mike says:

    I am in the process of purchasing a ss100 kit car from Arizona. It is registered as a 1938 Jaguar with Arizona Historic vehicle plates according to the seller It has a 1976 drive train from a doaner Mustang II. Will it be required to be inspected by BAR and CHP upon registering in Cal? I haven’t pulled the trigger on this yet as I am holding out for a decision on this issue.

  • Update on the above post. Upon further investigation It is titled in Arizona as a 1923 SPCNS. Can I bring it to Cal under SB100?

  • Mike says:

    I’m buying a Factory five Roadster ( Shelby cobra) used. the car has CA plates and registration. I’m looking at the title and the car doesn’t appear to have a CA DMV Vin number. The Vin on the title is the FFR vin number. The car was completed and registered in CA in 2005 and the make on the title says SPCNS.
    Just trying to make sure I’m cool with CA…..


    • Cord says:

      If it says SPCNS then most likely there’s a CAL tag somewhere on the vehicle. It’s usually in the engine bay, and should have that California-created number. SPCNS also means you’re square with the CA DMV system….enjoy!

  • Kurt says:

    I’ve designed and built two vehicles from scratch that ran through SB100 no problem. But now I’m considering something different, buying an old NASCAR and adding lights, wipers, etc, for the street. The tricky bit is the DMV’s definition of what qualifies for SB100. From

    “These vehicles may be built from a kit, new or used parts, a combination of new and used parts, or a vehicle reported for dismantling (junked) that, when reconstructed, does not resemble the original make of the vehicle that was dismantled.

    A specially constructed (SPCNS) vehicle does not include a vehicle that has been repaired or restored to its original design by replacing parts or a vehicle modified from its original design.

    Example: A Volkswagen “Beetle” with modified fenders, engine compartment lid, and front end, but still recognizable as a Volkswagen is not considered a specially constructed vehicle.”

    The key phrase above seems to be “…does not resemble the original make of the vehicle…” So if the vehicle looks like a generic “car” with no badges, good enough? If it “resembles” a Chevy sedan, does that make it ineligible? What if just the doors, dash, windshield frame, and roof are used, but the rest is tube frame?. Hard to say but It’s important enough to know this first that nothing’s happening until then. Thanks.

    • Cord says:

      AFAIK if it looks like a Chevy Malibu, it will be classified as a Chevy Malibu for whatever year the design represents. You’ve of course seen the old “Mercedes” kit cars made from a Volkswagen. They look like crap, but they don’t look like a Volkswagen. Those cars will be licensed via SB100 as an early model Mercedes. Your car needs to look passably like an older car in order to be licensed under SB100, or be a completely unique car as then it will be licensed as a unique car, and will need to pass emission regulations from 1965. Your car is the reason why you see exotics licensed in Montana….

  • Tim Hatch says:

    I recently purchased a custom-built T Bucket out of state. Jumped through all the initial hoops, and when I got to the Smog Referee, I was rejected because I had no photographs of the build, receipts from the build, no signed Construction paperwork.
    I am running out of options very quickly at this point.
    My last two desperate choices are; selling the car, or leaving the state.
    Hopefully you can suggest something that will keep me in California.

    • Cord says:

      Sometimes I think moving out of California is the best option. Unfortunately it sometimes depends on who you get at the DMV, the CHP, and especially at your local BAR station. A t bucket (1923?) should be smogged for the requirements from 1923, which is to say none. The CHP will need your invoices to make sure that nothing on the car was stolen, but not the BAR referee. Seems like he’s just being a PITA. As for signed construction paperwork, do you mean a title or MSO? “Special Construction” rules allow for even home-built cars, which would have no MSO. If it’s from a kit, ask the manufacturer if an MSO is available. Otherwise tell the BAR referee to pound sand, or consider finding a different referee. Write a letter and complain about the first referee, but only AFTER you have your car licensed. 😉 I heard that in Arizona it’s possible to get a Radio Flyer wagon licensed if it’s got an engine, so there’s always that option.

      • Tim Hatch says:

        Thank you Cord!
        It is not a kit car. It is some kind of dragster frame, 355 roller, Ford 9 in, stretched mold for the bucket. Getting it smogged will be the easy part, I just add a PCV and voila!
        I will however try a drift different referree, and talk to the CHP in the meantime. The California Highway Patrol has been very very helpful! Thank you guys at Westminster CHP inspection!

  • Tim Hatch says:

    Thank you Cord!
    It is not a kit car. It is some kind of dragster frame, 355 roller, Ford 9 in, stretched mold for the bucket. Getting it smogged will be the easy part, I just add a PCV and voila!
    I will however try a drift different referree, and talk to the CHP in the meantime. The California Highway Patrol has been very very helpful! Thank you guys at Westminster CHP inspection! The form needed is called a “certificate of constructoin” not sure of the form #.

  • Vince wei says:

    I’m building an Exocet, and I’m using a 2003 donor.
    When I’m building it, it seems like there are no room for charcoal canister. So I’m thinking removing it to make the build process easier.
    Am I risking not passing registration if I do so?
    Or just register using body style and put it as a 1960s car is good enough?
    Thank you so much

    • Cord says:

      Honestly, find a place for the canister and route it so it won’t leak when tipped. Your garage won’t end up smelling like gas because you don’t have one. The BAR referee’s seem to be getting much stickier about small issues, and it seems as if each one uses their own rule book. I know for a fact that they check to make sure that your valve cover vents to the intake and not vent to air. You’re right, I don’t think that the canister is required, but I think you really want it anyway.

  • Ray Shanahan says:

    I purchased a 1960 Porsche 356 replica in November of 2019. The previous owner had it titled and registered in Illinois as a 1984 Porsche Convertible. This was given because they went by the year the car was assembled. I went to DMV and they tried to register it as that. The VIN bounced back as it was a number the Body Builder had placed on it. They then called it a SPCNS and I started the process before the pandemic. I had the Brake& lamp test and it passed. The CHP said that the donor vehicle numbers pan and engine made it a 1969 and it was good. He then called it a SPCNS and assigned the body number and the pan together. The last stop was to be the referee and I sent him images and all the paperwork and he then decided it didn’t qualify because I didn’t make it ? I am now waiting for the State DMV to open again to get this settled.

    • Cord says:

      Welcome to California! Referees are becoming the place where special construction cars go to die. If the pan and engine are from a VW, there’s a chance that you can title it as a VW bug in California. That’s what dune buggies do, right? Otherwise consider telling the DMV that you disassembled the car, rebuilt or exchanged the motor, and completely reassembled. You did that, right? Wink wink…

  • richard c mcelroy says:

    Cord, I have completed a 1936 ford glass bodied hot rod. I have my brake and light inspection cert’s completed as well as the BAR smog cert. The referee took pictures of the car and he scanned ALL receipts I have collected for the last ten years into his computer and sent it up the BAR review. They agreed upon the the valuation of the car and I went to the DMV to pick up my personalized plates as this should have been my last trip. The last two trips to the DMV were by mail as they were closed for the covid nonsense. This last time, they are now telling me since I don’t have a bill of sale, I need to get the car appraised and the have a surety company issue a bond for the price of the car. I called the bond company (South Carolina) and they said the bond would be about $1400 plus the appraisal fee- another $250. This seems like BS to me. The BAR already agreed on the value of the car. Why do I have to have this done?

    • Cord says:

      The more time I spend in this state, the more times I simply shake my head. We’ve got bureaucrats and “health experts” telling us that protests are different in regards to health depending on what we’re protesting, and we have a government demanding a valuation of your car. Well I’d say your car is worth whatever you can get for it on the open market. I’d obviously not allow the bond company to value the car, but I would guess that any specialty car insurance company (Hagerty, for example) could give you insurance based on their valuation. The state should approve the valuation of a specialty car insurer….shouldn’t they?

  • Jose says:

    Trying to finish up the final steps of the process… I’ve done the CHP VIN verification already. Fees at DMV are paid for. Finishing up the lights so I can get my brake and lamp inspection. Decided to go talk to the smog ref to verify what he needed for the inspection. He starts to tell me all theses things about the paperwork, and how he’s going to check to make sure the stated paid price is in line with the value of the vehicle. And how Its gonna need wipers. Can anyone verify what they actually check for at the CA BAR ref inspection???

    • Cord says:

      It seems like the BAR is getting more and more involved in the process. One honest option–go to a different BAR station. It sounds like your local BAR referee’s goal in life is to push paper.

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