Lets start out with the basics. What you are reading here is simply my OPINION. It is not and should not be relied upon to make buying or selling decisions. I can say that I think I probably have a pretty deep understanding of the situation considering EI's history with DMV and CARB.
First and Foremost, EI is in business to make money selling Unimogs and Pinzgauers. If there is a LEGAL way to put these vehicles on the road in CA, we are all over it. That being said I cannot count the number of times that we are told by a new owner that they walked into DMV and were issued plates and tags on a vehicle that we told them could not be registered in the state. I have also repeatedly grinned when I get the call back that said Registration has been revoked after further review.
History: In 2003-2005 EI went head to head with CARB in regards to both the Steyr Puch Pinzgauers and the Mercedes Benz Unimogs. At that time the agreement with CARB was that Used Direct Import Vehicles 1974 and Older model year (Gas Units) were 100% exempt and could be titled and registered for road use in CA. I have a file sitting here 6" thick with legal briefs, legal bills, and the basis for the opinions that we have/had made. Fortunately, when CARB tried to shut us down, cooler heads prevailed at the Attorney Generals Office, and our legal opinions were accepted. That being said, with all of our research, AND HOW WE HAD BEEN OPERATING, we agreed that CARB had the right to regulate/require CA EPA Certification on 1975 and newer model year Pinzgauers. Over 100 vehicles went under the microscope and we were found to be compliant with the Pinzgauers. (We did have 1 x 1985 Turbo Diesel Pinzgauer that we agreed should not have been put on the road.) The Diesel Unimogs were a different story, and to this day we feel we have the legal standing that they should be allowed on the road under CA law, but eventually you reach a point where the costs to continue to fight (regardless of right or wrong) are too high. After the proceedings with CARB we stopped selling the Unimogs in CA. From 2005 on EI has not been selling newer Diesel Unimogs within the state of CA, and had only been selling 1974 and older Pinzgauers to state residents.
Current Policy Change: Imagine my surprise when I recently went to Title and Register a 1974 Pinzgauer to a local Vineyard and was referred to CARB. Excuse me....what did you say? I figured it was yet another uninformed cog in the wheel of bureaucracy until I had some detailed email exchanges with CARB. Say it isn't so....but it appears that CARB has re-interpreted their testing requirements and put up new roadblocks to putting our Pinzgauers and Unimogs on the road in CA.
1968-1974 Model Year vehicles must meet US EPA requirements in effect in 1972. The devil is in the details on this one. Corresponding with CARB and the One testing lab within the state of CA that can perform SOME of these tests the following information is current as of this writing.
1975 and Newer Vehicles must go thru the CA EPA Lab Testing Procedures - Nothing New Here.
1973 and 1974 Model Years must go thru the FTP-72 Test. CEE Testing Lab in Santa Monica can handle this testing for a considerable fee. (More about this later)
1968-1972 Model Years should go thru the 7-Mode Test, however none of the labs can currently conduct this test so currently CARB is exempting these vehicles. However, it was made very clear by CARB that if a testing lab started offering this test, it would be required.
So the current end result is that those importing or bringing in an out of state 1973 or 1974 Model year Pinzgauer or Unimog, will have to go thru the FTP-72 testing. California Environmental Engineering in Santa Monica is the only CA testing lab that we could find that was certified to handle the FTP-72 testing procedure. That procedure can be handled on both 4x4 and 6x6 Pinzgauers and is basically a Dyno road test. In conversations with the lab it appears that the one area that poses the biggest challenge to the Pinzgauer is the cold start emissions. Once they are warmed up, they have no problems meeting the requirements. I will not quote another vendors pricing, but the end result cost to EI to pay for this testing process, and the transportation costs etc., it is going to add approximately $3000-$4000 to the cost of a Pinzgauer.
Diesels 1979 and older are exempted from the testing requirements.
We are still digesting and researching the above information, however I think it is best to put out the current status ASAP as many within our community, myself included until recently, were under the understanding that 1974 and older was good to go in CA.
Stay Tuned. Scott