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U1300L Ex Mil. Ex. Armored version
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is for anyone in Ca. that wants to get a Mog titled and registered, especially after a fresh import.

I've spent a solid year attempting to tag a perfectly Ca. legal '79 U1300 imported straight from Germany. Yes, a full year. I have spoken with every agency, spent unthinkable hours at DMVs and been on bizarre phone calls for hours total, and as of 1/27/2023, it's over with in Ca.. Keep in mind I used to import trucks for others and had top level help, very complete paperwork, paid lots of large fees, etc.. Everything was done by the book yet nothing was overstated. I've imported dozens of trucks over the last 24 years for people and dealt with lots of BS but nothing like this, ever.

It's been known for a long time by those of us into importing rare trucks that any diesel pre-'80 was exempt from Ca. smog rules. They are obviously old enough to be exempt from anything else as well. Hec I recently sold a '79 300GD that I drove all the time in Ca... never an issue with DMV.

And just to clear this up: A lot of the Ca rules people routinely quote about diesels are wrong because of the grey market factor. You always see stuff about pre '98 or '84. That's all related to original manufacturer USA imports. Still, grey market was always pre '80 and you were good to go.

When the DMV takes in your unusual vehicle paperwork they send it to this place in Sacramento called "Technical Compliance". I have become way too familiar with this place unfortunately and I can confidently say that it's extremely dysfunctional due, possibly, to lots of employee turn-over (my guess).

This is a short summary: I got a letter from these Compliance people two months after my local DMV manager was confident everything was good (which took 6 hours plus 4 trips!). That office had a direct phone number at that time and I would deal with one guy there, for a month, who eventually understood all the issues (after I would educate him) and he would promise that all was good to go after meeting with his boss and that title/tags were coming soon. Months later, I'd get another letter stating something else was required although his boss had already approved everything before. I'd call, which was very difficult to get through to anyone, and I'd end up talking to some 23yo girl this time (a nightmare scenario!). She would state that the guy I talked to before was simply "not there". She would gather all the paperwork again and start asking questions and I'd be back at step one again. She called a week later after meeting with her boss, who had a different name this time, and said all was well and we'd get this done. Then I'd get a letter a month later stating I needed to give them my original German papers. I'd try to get through again, finally did a week later and told them they had those already! Turns out they had "misplaced" the original paper but found it so NOW we were all good. I'd have my tags in a week!

I got a letter again, two months later, stating that this vehicle needed a letter from Mercedes stating it met US emissions in 1979, plus I needed a weight certificate, plus a letter stating it met US safety standards, plus it needed the CHP to inspect it. :ROFLMAO: I decided to have my helpful DMV manager call them this time to explain to whomever this newest person was, that those things are not required for a '79. She spent a very long time on the phone and came to me shaking her head. She said "I'm with you on this whole thing but they are not going to give you a title unless you can at least get a letter for emissions." I said '79 had no requirements for smog. She said they don't agree. I said its on their website. She said "well our whole web site has errors and dont bother using that for critical information".

This post will be too long to report it all so I'll skip over a ton of other calls the DMV made to this dysfunctional office, the calls I made, the calls another DMV manager made early on, the VIN inspections I had done, then done again because they filled out the report wrong, the CHP guy laughing because they sent me to them for an inspection and he had no idea why, the additional lost paper work event at the TC office, and finally the discussion I had with the DVM's master overlords: The Bureau of Auto Repair! who stated to me that "NO GREY MARKET DIESEL WILL BE REGISTERED ANYMORE" in Ca..

Anyway, I've exhausted all means to do it legally and this is the situation as of 2023. Will some Ca. DMV process import papers by mistake and get another grey 4x4 on the road? Probably so, but I think it's going to be a very exceptional case from now on. There's a whole other thing happening here with pre-2010 commercial diesel trucks being outlawed in what appears to be an unconstitutional move against small business owners. Would SBU's fit into this new law? Very well could if you read up...

Luckily in my case, I don't care anymore because I'll be leaving this absolute s***hole of state sooner than I thought and can easily title a truck by many other methods. The only thing that annoys me now are the fees they collected and I have nothing to show for it. Doing this in Ca. as of now is an extremely risky proposition, so if that's your future plan, I highly advise considering other means.
 

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85' U1300L Holset Turbo VA A/C, 66' Propane 404.1 rock mog, 1975 416 Doka, G500, Volvo C303
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I’m not going to claim to be an expert in California and frankly wouldn’t want to be. But it seems this process could have been easier had you gotten a legitimate title outside CA first. It seems like getting a new/first title and registration at the same time in CA might be problematic.

Does CA require you to transfer your title to CA?

I know lots of people with rare vehicles in CA title and register in another state.

Anyways, not necessarily trying to give you a solution, as you have already found it, get the hell out of California.
 

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U500 with Unicat camper
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FWIW, I couldn’t register my US spec 2005 U500NA in California or even drive it >1000mi/year except for the camper body. And that will probably go away eventually as well.
It was ordered and purchased new from a dealer 2 miles from my house in Alaska.
So I find your experience totally unsurprising.
 

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Just drive it without tags, if you like a challenge, have the time, and don't want to roll over.

You could spend probably the same amount of time researching case law and and getting your tickets for no tags thrown out in court. Unless of course your U1300 is for commercial use.

Pick your battles I guess.
 

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I was born and raised in California, but I left a couple decades ago...
but not because of the Police State...it was not nearly the same as now.

whenever I visit I am super careful. All lamps are working, no visible smoke (Peugeot HDI diesel), no cracked glass, etc.
obey speeds carefully, always use the blinkers, non agressive

The police officers are Not like home.
I'm not gonna say trigger happy, but something like that. My brother says "feeling disrespected"

PS: The current government is banning all non EV, and going All Electric in the homes too.
the hand writing is on the wall
 

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U1300L Ex Mil. Ex. Armored version
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95 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It does seem like a previous US title would be helpful, but that's not going to help much with how they process things now. It still goes to Tech Compliance and with the diesel indication, will send it into the tornado. It all has to do with smog checks and what does or doesn't need that... this is what opens up most of the issues. If it's an import gas motor and made in the early to mid 70's, same thing happens. They can't even quote a hard date! There's always exceptions but like I said, those are blind luck that slipped through some wonderfully ignorant DMV worker, but even then I'd fear a letter coming any day from CARB or a refusal of the next registration. I doubt this luck thing is even going to work much longer.

Oh yeah, it looks pure modern military so I could likely drive it for a long time without issue.. already have a few times and will be again next week. No cop wants to deal with pulling over stuff like that, and that comes straight from one I know who said he never gives actual mil trucks a second look and knows nothing about how they are supposed to be marked/tagged. I also know a guy close by who drove his (US) mil duece for 5 years without tags. One day a bored CHP cop got him on the interstate and yelled at him for 20min. Still let him go as it was technically registered. The guy was probably an ex MP and knew it wasn't currently used in the army or something.

Whatever, I'm out of here soon enough! :cool:
 

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U1300L Ex Mil. Ex. Armored version
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95 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
PS: The current government is banning all non EV, and going All Electric in the homes too.
the hand writing is on the wall
Technically they want to ban the sale of new fossil fuel-only autos by 2035. Hybrids are still allowed and we all know that certain vehicles and machinery still have to use diesel to work. As of now they are starting to not renew pre 2010 diesel commercial trucks without lots of mods or restrictions. It's important to get the words correct these days. Alarmist headlines are often quoted instead of actual facts. They can't simply "ban" current cars and take them from people, like the news would have you believe, or they'd get violent riots that make all that other recent stuff look very cute. What I find odd is that every single guy I talk to in the region, and I mean all of them, don't vote or support all these extremist politicians and not one of them will comply with anything further put on their shoulders. I guess it's just the rich, isolated from the real world San Fran and Hollywood types that keep the political contribution money train going. Much of what this stuff does is actually anti low-income families, which they claim to love and fight for so much... extremely hypocritical. How a small-time plumber with a 2009 diesel work truck will survive any longer, while paying ultra-high taxes and $6.65 for fuel so that Ca. can build more $450,000 (each!!!) homeless apartments in Venice beach, I'll never know.

I seemingly run into guys who are leaving every week now, mainly due to the taxes and regulations simply making it impossible to do many businesses anymore. I know a powder-coater for example, who spent endless $1000's just trying to meet insane, irrational rules to get his permits for a very small shop in an industrial area. He isn't even dealing with toxic materials or traditional paint fumes but the county treats him like he's handling uranium. He can't even pre-treat metal with a very mild zinc-phosphate dip without crippling rules. He's fed up and looking at Nevada or Az, like a sea of others (including Elon Musk).
 

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It might not be the "right" way, but you can get an older vehicle without a title or registration, but with a "Bill of Sale" registered through Vermont. Then take the Vermont "registration" to your state and because Vermont does not issue titles on older vehicles, the registration is all that's needed to get a title/registration in your state. No, you don't need a Vermont address, and they don't ask for one. There are people out there that will do it for you for a small fee, but you can also do yourself. I've done it twice.
 

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1963 Unimog 404
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It might not be the "right" way, but you can get an older vehicle without a title or registration, but with a "Bill of Sale" registered through Vermont. Then take the Vermont "registration" to your state and because Vermont does not issue titles on older vehicles, the registration is all that's needed to get a title/registration in your state. No, you don't need a Vermont address, and they don't ask for one. There are people out there that will do it for you for a small fee, but you can also do yourself. I've done it twice.
I wouldn’t saythis way is “wrong”. Not illegal to do that. If it works, it’s “right”.
 

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1984 U1200AG (soon a hydrostat and rotzler teibmatic winch)
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554 Posts
I left California decades ago over rights restrictions...now it turns out it was even better that I left. I would not be able to register and drive my truck, so no shooting and no Unimoging and high taxes and building my own house would also likely have been impossible.....I made the right decision...

Wonderful place and weather aside from all the people and government...
 

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U1450L DOKA
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17,536 Posts
I don't miss it, apart from friends and the incredible array of restaurants.

I went back in October of '21 to take part in the 70th anniversary of the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team. That was great.

While in the area, we took a short trip downtown to eat at Phillipe the original (French Dip). After lunch, we headed downtown for a quick stop in the jewelry district.

It had not rained in LA for 5 months, but the skies opened up, and a real deluge was released. As we waited at a light on Hill St., blocks from City Hall, a horrible stench entered the car, with all the windows rolled up. I then took a good look at the river of mud, about 6" deep, flowing in the cross street in front of us, from right to left (West to East) down the slope.

But, it wasn't mud, it was raw sewage that was being scoured from all of the sidewalk tent camps up the hill, not far from the elegant Music Center.
It wasn't a trickle, it was a raging torrent, running fast down the hill. I've never seen anything like it, anywhere. It definitely had a 3rd world dystopian feel to it, and Los Angeles was looming large as a failed enterprise.

The next day, we happily headed north through Bishop, Tonopah, Elko, and points north.
 

· Unimog Moderator
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I had a friend fly up from California and I picked him up at the airport in my winter beater, first time in my part of the world for him. I remember him asking if we were going to get pulled over on the way home because my windshield was heavily rock chipped, spidered, and pitted. I thought he was kidding but he was quite serious.
 

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2008 ML550, 2003 E320, 2003 ML350, 2001 CL600 - former W108/W111/W112/W114/W123/W124/W126/W140/W220
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I bought a 1962 300SE from an estate in California back in the early 2000s. It had been in storage in Colma (the "City of the Dead") for a number of years while the estate was being probated. I didn't get a pink slip from the attorney that was the administrator of the estate, just a bill of sale.

I lived in Florida at the time, so I wasn't worried about this. Until I went to the Florida DMV and they demanded a California title for me to title the car in Florida.

I went back to California and got nowhere. The law firm that was the estate administrator blew me off. I had a buddy who lived in the LA area and was a member of AAA, who did registrations and titles at some of their branches. He went to them and got a full accounting of what I would need to get a pink slip from the state. Essentially, it was over $2,000 in fees, mainly for "non-operation" registration while the car was in storage, as well as the late fees and penalties that accompanied all of those. To add insult to injury, California said I had to do it in person.

Big "Nope!"

I found a company in Alabama listed in Hemmings, I think, who "washed" the title for something like $500. I sent them a bill of sale, they registered the car in AL, then sold it back to me with a valid AL title I could take to the Florida DMV and make them happy. It was all done in a couple of days with FedEx overnight envelopes and money well spent.

Nowadays you could do it through Vermont like a lot of people do now, but at the time it was the only option that I knew of. Suffice to say I learned my lesson and will no longer purchase a car out of California without a "pink slip". And California is the only state I know of that requires you to pay a registration fee for a car you're not driving or is in storage. Dumb!
 

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'17 Mercedes GLE350 4matic, '81 Mercedes 240d 4 speed
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This is for anyone in Ca. that wants to get a Mog titled and registered, especially after a fresh import.

I've spent a solid year attempting to tag a perfectly Ca. legal '79 U1300 imported straight from Germany. Yes, a full year. I have spoken with every agency, spent unthinkable hours at DMVs and been on bizarre phone calls for hours total, and as of 1/27/2023, it's over with in Ca.. Keep in mind I used to import trucks for others and had top level help, very complete paperwork, paid lots of large fees, etc.. Everything was done by the book yet nothing was overstated. I've imported dozens of trucks over the last 24 years for people and dealt with lots of BS but nothing like this, ever.

It's been known for a long time by those of us into importing rare trucks that any diesel pre-'80 was exempt from Ca. smog rules. They are obviously old enough to be exempt from anything else as well. Hec I recently sold a '79 300GD that I drove all the time in Ca... never an issue with DMV.

And just to clear this up: A lot of the Ca rules people routinely quote about diesels are wrong because of the grey market factor. You always see stuff about pre '98 or '84. That's all related to original manufacturer USA imports. Still, grey market was always pre '80 and you were good to go.

When the DMV takes in your unusual vehicle paperwork they send it to this place in Sacramento called "Technical Compliance". I have become way too familiar with this place unfortunately and I can confidently say that it's extremely dysfunctional due, possibly, to lots of employee turn-over (my guess).

This is a short summary: I got a letter from these Compliance people two months after my local DMV manager was confident everything was good (which took 6 hours plus 4 trips!). That office had a direct phone number at that time and I would deal with one guy there, for a month, who eventually understood all the issues (after I would educate him) and he would promise that all was good to go after meeting with his boss and that title/tags were coming soon. Months later, I'd get another letter stating something else was required although his boss had already approved everything before. I'd call, which was very difficult to get through to anyone, and I'd end up talking to some 23yo girl this time (a nightmare scenario!). She would state that the guy I talked to before was simply "not there". She would gather all the paperwork again and start asking questions and I'd be back at step one again. She called a week later after meeting with her boss, who had a different name this time, and said all was well and we'd get this done. Then I'd get a letter a month later stating I needed to give them my original German papers. I'd try to get through again, finally did a week later and told them they had those already! Turns out they had "misplaced" the original paper but found it so NOW we were all good. I'd have my tags in a week!

I got a letter again, two months later, stating that this vehicle needed a letter from Mercedes stating it met US emissions in 1979, plus I needed a weight certificate, plus a letter stating it met US safety standards, plus it needed the CHP to inspect it. :ROFLMAO: I decided to have my helpful DMV manager call them this time to explain to whomever this newest person was, that those things are not required for a '79. She spent a very long time on the phone and came to me shaking her head. She said "I'm with you on this whole thing but they are not going to give you a title unless you can at least get a letter for emissions." I said '79 had no requirements for smog. She said they don't agree. I said its on their website. She said "well our whole web site has errors and dont bother using that for critical information".

This post will be too long to report it all so I'll skip over a ton of other calls the DMV made to this dysfunctional office, the calls I made, the calls another DMV manager made early on, the VIN inspections I had done, then done again because they filled out the report wrong, the CHP guy laughing because they sent me to them for an inspection and he had no idea why, the additional lost paper work event at the TC office, and finally the discussion I had with the DVM's master overlords: The Bureau of Auto Repair! who stated to me that "NO GREY MARKET DIESEL WILL BE REGISTERED ANYMORE" in Ca..

Anyway, I've exhausted all means to do it legally and this is the situation as of 2023. Will some Ca. DMV process import papers by mistake and get another grey 4x4 on the road? Probably so, but I think it's going to be a very exceptional case from now on. There's a whole other thing happening here with pre-2010 commercial diesel trucks being outlawed in what appears to be an unconstitutional move against small business owners. Would SBU's fit into this new law? Very well could if you read up...

Luckily in my case, I don't care anymore because I'll be leaving this absolute s***hole of state sooner than I thought and can easily title a truck by many other methods. The only thing that annoys me now are the fees they collected and I have nothing to show for it. Doing this in Ca. as of now is an extremely risky proposition, so if that's your future plan, I highly advise considering other means.
Sorry for your troubles. The CA DMV sounds just like the FAA. They're not happy inless you are.
Anyway you can temporarily convert to a hybrid or all electric, lol.
 

· CH4S Admin , Outstanding Contributor
1985 500SEC, 1991 190E 2.6.
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No friends in Nevada, New Mexico, S Dakota, Montana? Some let you register directly, in others you can found a trust, and register to the trust.
 

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Know anyone in Arizona? Register it there for dirt cheap. No smog check except phoenix and Tucson. I do this. Love Arizona and live in Taxifornia
It's not as easy as it once was. Arizona requires a title to register any vehicle or trailer. I'm facing a similar dilemma, I own a 97 F150 I had in my name registered in Cali. Been sitting for 6 years with a blown engine. Want to bring it to Arizona and get it registered. Nope! Lost Cali title and they won't give me a duplicate without paying $1,000's in fees! Looking into the Vermont trick!!
 
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