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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone. I have an 84 El Camino that originally had a v6 motor. Is anyone aware of what CA says about swapping motors? I want to drop a 350 but I've heard that the motor has to be the same year or newer than the chassis. Any suggestions would help.
 

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It has to be from a smog era car... If you have an 84 you could drop in a ls motor from a truck or a lt1 from an impala. You just have to make sure you have all the smog stuff that was on the original car... O2 sensors computer cats etc.. then you have to take it to a ref to get it checked out and passed so you can get a sticker for it...
 

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no ca says no truck engines in car chassis.you can actually put any year 350 in it it just needs to be built to the year of your car or newer specs
 

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I honestly don't think the referee station can tell a 350 from a 305. As long as it has everything it should have i smog equipment, it should pass. Now, here's the good news - I have never had a problem taking a Camino that originally had a 6 and was converted to a V-8 to any smog station. They've all passed as long as they had all the smog equipment that the particular year V-8 was supposed to have. I personally don't think you'll need to do the referee thing. Others may disagree, but I've never had to and I have done several of them.
 

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Straight from the California Air Resources Board website.


Engine changes are legal as long as the following requirements are met to ensure that the change does not increase pollution from the vehicle:
  • The engine must be the same year or newer than the vehicle.
  • The engine must be from the same type of vehicle (passenger car, light-duty truck, heavy-duty truck, etc.) based on gross vehicle weight.
  • If the vehicle is a California certified vehicle then the engine must also be a California certified engine.
  • All emissions control equipment must remain on the installed engine.
  • Vehicles converted to 100% electric drive, with all power supplied by on-board batteries are considered in compliance with the engine change requirements. All fuel system components must be removed prior to inspection. For additional information contact the ARB helpline at (800) 242-4450
After an engine change, vehicles must first be inspected by a state referee station. The vehicle will be inspected to ensure that all the equipment required is in place, and vehicle will be emissions tested subject to the specifications of the installed engine.
Pretty straightforward, must be same year or newer, from the same class of vehicle, I'm not sure if CA classifies the El Camino as a light truck or a passenger car, but whichever one it is must be the reported source of the motor.
 

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When I reg. mine from Montana they considered it a commercial truck and had to have it weighed. If it has a topper it's not considered commercial .
 

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i was a ca. res for 30+ years and have done many elco swaps and conversions.the state of ca. registers the elco as a truck,but its emissions package is a car systems and therefor is classified a car by the smog police.you are alowed a little room because of such. you can get away with a light truck engine but it must be controled by a car emissions system with a car ecm and calibrations.no big blocks are alowed in our elco s because they only put big blocks in hd trucks after 75. the ref will check to see what ecm/chip is used and check the casting #on the block to make sure its not an excluded engine. the more exotic a swap the closer they look. can you sneek something by them some times ? sure ,but if they catch it you are screwed. at that point you have 2 options,1 you put it back to true factory specs and recertify it as stock or 2 you put in a certified engine and start over.i have done this so many times i know what can fly and what wont. i wont knowingly direct someone to go down a path that will cause them problems.i would rather air on the side of caution
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks everyone for their comments! All seems pretty straight forward and pretty similar to what I've heard others say about this topic! Anyone know about what happens if your vehicle doesn't pass those dreaded smog checkpoints? I'm assuming they give you some time to have it repaired then get it retested
 
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