54. SB100 – my journey to being road legal

SB100 is a California Legislative Bill that allows for 500 specialty constructed cars to be registered in California each year.  Cars such as the GT40 replica, Cobra replicas, and the SLC all fall under this bill.  The magic of this bill is it allows for one to build a kit car, register it in California, and records the vehicle as smog exempt – a pretty big deal here!  It’s a relatively straightforward process but because it doesn’t happen very frequently you’re likely to encounter some resistance when going to the DMV to register your car.  I won’t go into the details of the process, rather, I’ll record my own experiences for the sake of completeness.

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

DMV visit #1: March 28, 2018

I had made an appointment for 2:20PM and upon showing up at 1:30PM, the line for appointments was out the door.  The line for non-appointments was even longer.

After standing in line for about an hour I made my way up to the front desk where I was assigned a number and told to sit in the waiting room.  I was relieved when my number came up about 20 minutes later!

I greeted the clerk at desk #3 with a smile and told her I would like to register a kit car.  At first, she handled the transaction like any other normal vehicle registration. When she tried to enter the RCR “VIN” the system kicked it back as invalid.  At that point she said something was up – now was a good time to point out that there is a specific memo (memo VR-2002-25) just for this type of registration, and would she please open and review it?  (I didn’t want to be a pushy know-it-all right off the bat).  She apologized and said it was her first time to which I responded “me too!”.  We both chuckled.

As she read through the memo related to registering specially constructed vehicles/kit cars, another clerk walked up and noticed right away that something was up – “Ah, you must be registering a kit car.” YES!  Someone who’s done this before!

Sailing became much smoother once the second clerk showed up (or so I thought …).  At first my clerk wasn’t going to call Sacramento to pull the SPCN #, stating that the DMV would call on my next visit.  I insisted she call today and reasoned that since these numbers are limited it would really suck if the numbers were all gone by the time I came back.  That seemed to be a good enough justification and off she went to call the main office.  After about another hour I had my SB100 number in hand and paid a bunch of money to the State of California.  Ironically the longest part of the process was my clerk being on hold with Sacramento while trying to pull my SB100 number.

I requested a 3-month temporary registration tag but instead received two 1-day tags, 1 for a trip to the CHP and another for a trip to the BAR for smog inspection.  Fair enough, I thanked my clerk for her time and patience while we got through the process and walked out of the DMV decidedly happier than I had entered.

Total time: ~3 hours from arrival to departure.

DMV visit #2: April 11, 2018

As I was speaking with the CHP to set up an appointment for my VIN assignment visit I noticed the paperwork given to me by the DMV was incomplete.  I received form REG 124; the upper portion has a location for the DMV to fill out and the lower is to be completed by the CHP.  So … another visit to the DMV to get this form filled out.

I made another appointment (looks like it’s a ~2 week lead time to get one) for 9:50AM.  The next earliest appointment was for the day prior but in the afternoon.  Figuring that an afternoon appointment meant there would be a backlog of people I opted to take one for the following day, but earlier in the day – BINGO!

When I arrived at the DMV 1hr ahead of my scheduled time I was surprised to see the line was even longer than the first time I’d arrived!  Good thing I showed up early.  Then something miraculous happened.  It was like the seas parted and the flood of humanity pushed forward.  Another receptionist area opened up and now there were 4 instead of the usual 2.  My palms got a bit sweaty – what if they wouldn’t see me because my assigned appointment time hadn’t come up yet?  Back to the line and wait?  I got shuttled into a new makeshift line and within a few minutes had my queue number and sat down.  Phew!  Not too long after and my number was called.

Big smile, “Hey I need this paperwork filled out before I can see the CHP!”  I think it was the smile.  My clerk reviewed my paperwork, signed off on the form for CHP, and I was out the door.  I got home 10 minutes after my assigned appointment time!

Total time:  ~30 minutes.

CHP visit: September 20, 2018

As my car was still under heavy construction mode I wasn’t quite ready to make an appointment to see the CHP.  I had heard these appointments could take as long as a month to schedule so I wanted to get the initial paperwork out of the way so I could schedule mine in case there was such a wait.  Luckily for me it seems the local CHP office does these inspections somewhat regularly so I didn’t need to setup an appointment so soon.

When I called to inquire about an appointment I asked what condition the car had to be in.  I was told the car “needs to be complete, but not running”.  Given that the car needed to be “complete” I put my paperwork away and got to the task of completing the car – it took a lot longer than I had anticipated 😉

Once the car was (in my mind) “complete” enough to bring down, I called and made an appointment.

For the extra long story on how the day went and my impressions of the SLC, check out post 52 of my blog.

Apart from the nervousness and the awesomeness of finally getting to drive the car, it all went fairly smoothly.  I showed up and submitted my paperwork – DMV form REG 124 needs to be completed by you and the DMV before arriving at CHP.  Unfortunately I couldn’t locate the serial number to my engine – there wasn’t an engraving/stamping on the engine block.  I called Pace Performance to see if they knew, and the gentleman I spoke with said it would be on a sticker located on the head.  There are several numbers located on this sticker and he couldn’t tell me which series was the serial number.  The serial number for the transaxle was pretty obvious – at least the Italians did it right!  After a few minutes of walking around and showing the officer various parts of the car he took my paperwork to the back office while I waited in the reception area.  About 45 minutes later and he came back out with the coveted blue VIN plate in hand!

img_4301

Total time: ~1 hr from arrival to departure.

Brake & Light inspection: September 20, 2018

Not much to write about here.  Go to a state approved brake & light inspection facility and get your stuff checked out.  I’ve read some places will go as far as measuring the aim of your headlights and making you correct them to others just giving you a certificate without even looking at your car.  My inspection fell somewhere in the middle.  They looked at everything and saw it was clearly new – no need to measure pad thickness.  They verified all my lights were working as they should then had me drive up to speed and hit the brakes.  They measured the stopping distance and said “OK, you pass”.

Total time: ~1 hr from arrival to departure.

BAR referee visit #1: September 24, 2018

The day after my visit to the CHP I called the emissions referee # at 8AM sharp to set an appointment.  I was worried that it would take weeks for the next available slot but I was in luck – the next available was only a few days away – jackpot!

I was pretty amped up to be driving the car once again and I had a really tough time eating.  I could only get through about half my breakfast before giving up and I had to force myself to finish lunch.  After I’d eaten my two PB&Js I loaded the car up and drove over to the local community college for my emissions inspection.  I was going solo today, no wife to escort me.  I was super paranoid about getting hung up on a technicality (or breaking down) so I brought:

  • Jumper cables
  • Extra oil
  • Extra water
  • A hastily jury-rigged PCV valve
  • Extra PCV hose
  • Extra hose clamps

I had read at some point in my SB100 researching that someone had gotten pegged for not having a PCV – even though the engine wasn’t supposed to have one.  The LS376/525 I’m using has two built-in PCV locations, but they’re not actually Positive Crankcase Valves.  They’re metered orifices that control airflow based on the size of the hole – not a spring loaded flapper type design like most with most PCVs.  In the paperwork I received before heading down to meet with the BAR referee it stated emissions exempt vehicles (the status I was going for) required a closed crankcase with Type 4 PCV.  Uhoh!  A Type 4 PCV can be interpreted in a number of ways – one of which, is a physical valve must be present.

The day before my meeting with the referee, I had gone down to the local O’reilly’s to purchase a PCV valve that I’d be able to install if it was needed.  Of course the valve I was able to purchase didn’t have the right size ends so I had to ghetto-rig various adapters and hoses together to make something I could easily splice into my PCV plumbing on-the-spot.

When it came time for the physical inspection my referee walked through the PCV system and asked where the valve was – at this point I was prepared to pull out my documentation from GM stating this engine used PCV orifices (not valves) but that I had this super ugly contraption with a valve if he needed to have it installed.  He shook his head, agreed that the orificed meter was how GM designed the engine to be used, and moved on.

Phew!

All in all, it was a very pleasant experience.  The BAR referee was very knowledgeable and got a kick out of seeing the car.  I had brought a huge stack of paperwork with me (mostly receipts) and was super prepared – I think being overly prepared helped the process go much smoother.  As the referee was working through and gathering information, he would send it to the regional manager for review.  Several times during our appointment he would get a call for additional information/documents/etc.  The review for my car was happening real-time, very cool!  In some instances I’d read that some people had to submit all their paperwork and come back a few days later, after their case had been reviewed by the higher-ups.

We got the green light after about an hour and a half – my car was to be passed and would receive the coveted SB100 emissions exemption status!

Just one issue … the printer that prints the official emissions label was DOA.  Not working.  Dead.  😦

The referee entered all my information into the system and got as far as he could but we had to call it a day once it got to the LAST STEP, printing out the sticker.

img_4355
Goose egg on the emissions label so here’s a photo of the car waiting for inspection.

Total time: ~2 hrs from arrival to departure.

BAR referee visit #2: September 26, 2018

Another great start to the day for me; my cat woke me up at 5:30AM with a real desperate need for food.  I had to use the bathroom anyway so I got up, walked over and kicked her bowl (so she could hear it had food in it) then left her to her chowing.  I crawled back into bed but the thought of climbing into the SLC once again got my mind going – couldn’t fall back asleep.  So I just lay there for another 1.5hrs till it was time to get up and brush my teeth.  I could already feel the adrenaline starting to pump.

7:00AM finally makes its way here and I hope out of bed, brush my teeth, throw some ratty clothes on, and proceed to play musical cars to navigate the SLC off the lift and onto the street.  Every time my car is within 20 feet of my neighbor’s car the alarm goes off – I can tell they’re going to be pleased with me.

Nothing too exciting to report about the drive over.  As I walked into the office and introduced myself to the referee he could see I had a look of confusion on my face.  The name on his uniform was the same as the last gentleman who reviewed my car – but this was most definitely a different person!  Turns out there’s 2 guys with the same name working out of the same office, go figure.

A quick review of the paperwork and it was time to print my Golden Ticket!!

img_4390
I put a can of Red Bull in the tank and my car grew a wing!
img_4391
Laaaaaaaaa …. ! the SB100 emissions sticker …

Total time: ~30 minutes from arrival to departure.

DMV visit #3: September 29, 2018

I’ve discovered the secret to getting into the DMV without an appointment.  Go on Saturday.  Seriously.  Not many people know certain DMV offices are now open on Saturdays.  There’s generally a rush early in the morning but by mid-afternoon it’s crickets in there, seriously.

I walked into the DMV office and within 5 minutes got directed to another line where I filled out the forms to update my driver’s license – hey no wait, may as well kill 2 birds with 1 stone.  After filling out the application for my license update I sat and waited about 30 minutes before being seen by a clerk.  She took all my information and ran my government issued ID to verify my identity – uh oh, the system was kicking my info back and “unable to authenticate”.  I have no idea what that means but that was the beginning of my fun.  She didn’t know how to process vehicle registrations so I got forwarded to the clerk next to her.  After standing for about 15 minutes the next clerk greeted me and looked at my paperwork – there was a lot to go through!  After a minute she told me she’d have to shift me to another clerk because she had to relieve someone else in the office … onto the next desk!

Ironically, the next desk brought me back to where this whole SB100 journey began – it was the same desk I sat at when I first started the registration process for my SLC.  I hoped my luck would turn for the better and there was some kind of cosmic kismet at play here and I was getting bounced around just so I could wind up back here.  My third clerk reviewed my paperwork and I could already tell things were going to be a bit bumpy.  She’d never processed one of these before so she stepped away to speak with a more senior representative.  After a few minutes she came back from the back office and said she’d have to dig into it and do some research.  Uh-oh.

She proceeded to pull up the memo related to SB100 and began reading through it.  Still a bit unclear, she called someone over and they both started going through the memo.  Luckily this second clerk had been through the SB100 process before (but hadn’t closed one out) so at least he was familiar with what we were trying to do.  They pulled up the checklist of documents and started going through my stack, verifying I had all the needed paperwork.

Check.

Check.

Check.

Check

“OK – looks like everything’s here!  Let’s start crossing these off … Here’s your registration sir.”

And that was it.  I verified the information on the registration print-out was correct and they directed me over to a window where I could pick up my new plates and tags.

Fini.

Total time (not including the driver’s license snafu): ~1hr

img_4476
End of the road.

Total time spent to complete SB100 registration (not including any at-home prep time): ~9 hours

TLDR;

  • Go to DMV, recommend you make an appointment (or go in on a Saturday afternoon)!
    1. Have REG 343 (application for title or registration) form filled out.
    2. Have REG 5036 (statement of construction) form filled out.
    3. Pay Registration fees.
    4. Pay any outstanding taxes (have your receipts organized or you will not have a fun time).
    5. If they don’t call Sacramento, insist that they do and pull an SPCN # for you (you will receive the actual form in the mail after a few weeks).
    6. They should give you Form REG 124 (application for assigned VIN plate), with the top portion completed by them.  This form is required for you to proceed onto the next step.  DON’T LEAVE UNLESS THE TOP PORTION IS COMPLETED BY THEM!
  • Make an appointment to visit your nearest CHP office for a vehicle inspection.
    • Visit the CHP home page and find your nearest office.  I was told you MUST go to the office with jurisdiction over where the vehicle will be titled.  The car must be “complete” but doesn’t have to be running for this step.
    • Have all your receipts and paperwork ready.  Be able to identify engine and transmission serial number (if they’re visible).  Make it easier for them and highlight which receipts are for the vehicle/kit, engine, and transmission.
    • Have a location picked out for where you’d ideally like your VIN plate located.
    • CHP will complete form REG 124.  You’ll need this and the official SPCN form mailed to you directly from DMV (the Certificate of Sequence).
  • Call 800-622-7733 and make an appointment to visit an emissions referee.
    • Have all your paperwork ready – super organized, labeled.  The more documentation (receipts) the better!
      • MSO from RCR
      • REG 343 – application for title or registration
      • REG 5036 – statement of construction
      • REG 124 – VIN verification
      • Certificate of sequence
      • Brake & Light inspection certificates (if stated as required by your DMV paperwork)
      • DMV report showing fees paid
    • Verify your fluids are topped off – coolant & oil.
    • Review your PCV setup – for an LS3 which uses an orificed hole in lieu of a valve you’re likely to be OK (but I’d recommend having a ghetto-fab PCV handy just in case).  At a minimum, you’ll have to have some type of CLOSED PCV system.  I’ve also heard that one inspector reviewed the HOSE itself to verify it was appropriate for PCV use.  Know how everything is routed and be prepared to answer any questions pertaining to your PCV setup.
    • Select several photos of your build as you progressed and print these out.  They’ll want to verify that YOU did the work to build the car.  In my case, there was particular attention paid to the engine and installation of said engine.  Luckily I had included a photo of the engine as-received (just unwrapped from the box) and another of me lowering the engine into the chassis.  The referee’s supervisor wanted to verify that I had done the installation, or that there was paperwork for the engine installation if someone else had done it.
  • Go back to DMV
    • Wait in line, turn in all your forms, collect your plates & tags!

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