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Discussion Starter #1
My company if offering me an opportunity to move to California, Orange County, next year.
I am considering what to do with my cars, and I decided I can part with the M3 since I enjoyed it fully in the past 3 years and it is relatively easy to sell at the right price.

However I definitely don't want to get rid of the M5 yet, so I would like to bring it with me.
Normally in the US, with the 25 years rule, it should be simple but this is California, so I realize it is not at all because of local emissions regulations.

Does someone here have any experience importing a car there, and idea about chances of success and cost?
 

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It's a 3.6, and in Japan you have the same catalyst i believe. Do you have a 'check engine' light that comes on when you first start the car? If so, you probably won't have too much trouble with a california smog test.
 

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Funny you're in the exact opposite situation as mine. My Sterling Silber '92 M5 is sitting in Los Angeles and I'm wondering whether it's worth the headache bringing to Tokyo, while you're wanting to bring yours to SoCal.

It'll ultimately be successful, just a giant hassle unless you're really lucky. Even if the emissions are exactly the same, California doesn't treat it that way, and you'll need to have a Certificate of Compliance from a stringent CARB-certified lab. It'll pass, but that's 3+ thousand. If you're really lucky DMV won't notice with just a smog test, but since it likely doesn't have EPA/DOT paperwork I don't think it'll fly under the radar. Don't think BMW will make a compliance letter, but might be worth looking into if you're set on this.

Plus the $3-5000 for shipping it over and you're looking at about $10k+ including the spedometer swap and if the lab nitpicks your car.

My issue is shipping it over to Japan and dealing the headache of syaken, since I'm not sure how much that'll cost to make it compliant.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the reply!
I contacted http://gnkauto.com/, which seems the be the place to go to in order to import your Euro/JDM car to California and we are basically looking at a 10 KUSD bill...

By the way I never saw anything about a change of speedo, that would be a big no for me as well...

I will try to contact BMW to see if they can provide a compliance letter, maybe through BMW Classic, but I guess chances are pretty low.

Also I read in the news that your president is willing to break California emission laws, which I would normally not approve, but in this case that could help me... :p

But at the end of the day I will probably just ship the car back to France: it's cheap, it can be registered straight away and I will use the car when I go there...

Shaken in Japan is not very difficult, they are not looking too much if the car is conform to the origin or not, they are basically confirming the car is safe to drive and within range of emissions and noise regulations. So unless you put an obvious turbo on your car, if is remotely close to the origin it should not be a problem. And even if it is not conform you can still get a shaken as long as the modifications are recognized on it (one of my friend has a perfectly shaken legal Skyline R32 2.0T with a RB26 from a R33 in it, and everything is documented on the shaken).
 

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Spedometer you can always change it back once you get it compliant, you just need to keep the coding plug or whatever.

Shaken they can get picky about oil leaks (something S38s are prone to do), engine swaps and the like are less stringent than California laws. I'd LOVE for CARB to go away and just be under EPA jurisdiction, by the way.
 

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due to the age of the car you shouldn't have to change the speedometer.
 
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