California Department of Motor Vehicles
Vehicles of Historic Value
5004. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, any
owner of a vehicle described in paragraph (1), (2), or (3) which is
operated or moved over the highway primarily for the purpose of
historical exhibition or other similar purpose shall, upon application
in the manner and at the time prescribed by the department, be issued
special identification plates for the vehicle:
(1) A motor vehicle with an engine of 16 or more cylinders
manufactured prior to 1965.
(2) A motor vehicle manufactured in the year 1922 or prior thereto.
(3) A vehicle which was manufactured after 1922, is at least 25
years old, and is of historic interest.
(b) The special identification plates assigned to motor vehicles
with an engine of 16 or more cylinders manufactured prior to 1965 and to
any motor vehicle manufactured in the year 1922 and prior thereto shall
run in a separate numerical series, commencing with "Horseless Carriage
The special identification plates assigned to vehicles specified in
paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) shall run in a separate numerical
series commencing with "Historical Vehicle No. 1".
Each series of plates shall have different and distinguishing colors.
(c) A fee of twenty-five dollars ($25) shall be charged for the
initial issuance of the special identification plates. Such plates
shall be permanent and shall not be required to be replaced. If such
special identification shall become damaged or unservicable in any
manner, replacement for the plates may be obtained from the department
upon proper application and upon payment of such fee as is provided for
in Section 9265.
(d) All funds received by the department in payment for such
identification plates or the replacement thereof shall be deposited in
the California Environmental License Plate Fund.
(e) These vehicles shall not be exempt from the equipment provisions
of Sections 26709 [mirrors], 27150 [mufflers], and 27600 [fenders and
mudguards, if weight >1500 lbs].
(f) As used in this section, a vehicle is of historic interest if it
is collected, restored, maintained, and operated by a collector or
hobbyist principally for purposes of exhibition and historic vehicle
Last ammended Ch. 918, Stats. 1984, Effective January 1, 1985.
California Vehicles of Historic Value are exempt from biennially smog check
On October 8, 1997, California's Governor, Pete Wilson, signed
SB42, thereby exempting any motor vehicle
manufactured prior to the 1974 model-year from smog check certificates
of compliance or noncompliance biennially, upon transfer of ownership,
or upon registration of a vehicle previously registered outside the
state. After January 1, 2003, this exemption will apply to any vehicle
30 or more model-years old.