I am interested in buying a DR30 (from Japan) to import to California and register for road use. I've done some reading about this and the conclusion that seems to have been reached is that "it can't be done." Well, being the thick headed, thinking outside the box sort of fella that I am, I could not accept this answer, so I did some more research.
I called the DMV and read about the regulations for importing a non US model car and found out that it needs to be CARB certified. This led me to call the CARB who told me that the car must meet the CA emissions regulations for the year model of the car. In the case of the DR30, this meant it needs to have a catalytic converter, EGR and evap system. I was also told that the DMV will require a certificate from an independent lab that the car meets these regulations. A few phone calls later, and I was able to talk to a lab that does such certification and found out what the certification procedure is. The car essentially needs to pass the same tests that Nissan would have needed to do in order to meet federal emissions standards at that time. This includes the conventional smog sniffer test and several other tests that measure the effectiveness of the evap system, cold start emissions, etc. It's a barrage of tests that take 3 days to complete and, if all passes with flying colors, costs around $1200 + the certification cost. Once it has it's certificate, it's off for an inspection by a friendly BAR refferree who places a BAR sticker on the car, takes your money and then you can go to the DMV to get the thing registered. The total estimated cost to get the car certified and reffed is around $2000, assuming you pass the tests on the first go. It was roughly 3 weeks worth of searching and calling to gather all of this information together, so if anyone wants specifics, let me know and I can provide them.
None of this sounded too terrible to me, particularly because there is no regulation that requires the lab perform the work. In fact, the lab that I called cannot perform the work because they don't have a Nissan guy any more. I looked over the service manual that I found online for the DR30 and it isn't particularly detailed regarding the things that I am concerned with. Is there a more detailed service manual available somewhere for download? I can see the car was originally equipped with a catalytic converter, so that is one of the three things taken care of. The service manual I found did not have any information about an evap or EGR system, though. Does the DR30 have either system? If not, I have to believe that it would not be terribly difficult to use USDM parts from other Nissans of the era to retrofit a DR30. Certainly the evap system would be simple enough. I have access to a pretty wide variety of tools, so I can make any necessary fabrications that would be needed. I'm also curious if any US DR30 owners have ever performed an emissions test on their cars, and if so, would they be willing to post a scan of the results?
Basically, I don't accept "it can't be done" on face value and I want to see if there is a way to do this. I have access to a clean DR30 for not a lot of money, so even after the import cost and spending $2000 on testing and certification, it would be a worthwhile project to me. I just want to have some reasonable assurance that it can pass the tests. If the smog numbers are way off the chart on a properly running engine, that would cause me to abandon the idea, though. Also, I'm not really interested in doing illegal things. I've also researched the angle of registering the car in another state and then bringing it to CA. This seems to not be feasible, since CARB still considers it a grey market car, since it has no DOT or EPA numbers on it. Any input is appreciated.