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1976 CA Car - Worth it or gutless?


silasmoon
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Howdy - so I am looking at a 1976 2002 CA car. It comes with all the EPA gear (which is nice in a way since I live in California) and it passed smog back in October. I've read that the 76' CA is the same as the 75' and is therefore the "least desirable model." This would be my first 2002, and I wanted to due all my due diligence. I don't really have the time to modify the car - no maintenance garage you see - and was curious if getting a 76' was even worth it, or if I should wait for a 74 or earlier. Are 75' / CA 76' really that bad? Is there a clear difference that spoils a lot of the 2002 pep? Or would a novice / first time owner like myself even notice?

Thanks! 

Edited by silasmoon
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I thought it was just '76 cars that were the problem in California since '75  and down don't need to be smogged. Personally, I wouldnt bother with it. The parts to keep the emissions gear running are getting harder to find, and you have to have it to pass. I would save your money and buy a '75 and down car if it were me. I will say though, I own a '76 and love it! But, I am outside of California, so no emissions regulations on this car. Good luck man!

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The 1976 is the least desirable in California because you need to smog it every two years and in order to do that, you need to pass a visual inspection that all the smog components are intact and the emissions comply with California regulations.  Removing the smog components really transforms the car, which is why people prefer the earlier models that don't require smog inspections.  If you don't plan on modifying the car and your seller will provide a smog certificate as required by law, then this could be a good choice for you.  But if you want to experience how car was suppose to perform, find an earlier model and remove the smog equipment.

 

IMHO,

 

 

Mark92131

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The reason I am tempted is because it's local, the car looks to be in really good shape, and it's about $5500. It will probably need some TLC in terms of general oil / seals / etc. How big is the difference between the cars? 2002s pop up all the time in CA, so this isn't my only shot. Trying to be smart - and perhaps wait - but the car is a good deal. 

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A 1976 car in California = parts car. There is a shop down the street from me that has a 76 car in its rear lot that has been for sale for a few years...no one will buy it. Having to smog it every two years is too big of a liability.

Find an earlier car, definitely. 

Edited by arminyack
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from a general year point of view, there is no "least desireable year" of 2002.  they are all good and basically the same.

 

the only difference you are dealing with is California law, not the car.  the 76's are forced to deal with meeting emissions regulation, which takes all the fun out of modifying an old car.

 

although, even with a 76 in CA, I guarantee you will have a big stupid grin on your face driving it around!!!!

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So I went and checked it out - here is an album of photos: http://imgur.com/a/Xjbd8 - it looks pretty nice. Towers, rails, passenger panels and interior were all solid. It seems to be very well taken care of - what was most notable is that it is a 76' but a 49 states version - and it has passed smog in CA 3x. I asked the owner and he said he paid a few hundred dollars to a shop in the Bay Area and they passed it no sweat. My question is this - does that car have the smog emission equipment actually installed? I honestly can't tell as I've only seen a handful of 2002 engine bays in person. The price was well below my budget. It has new brakes, radiator rebuilt, new tires, new shocks (prior owner added them). The only downside was that the tubes from the sunroof might be leaking bad. He noted it didn't have issues in the rain, but the driver side floor panel would get moist then dry up from time to time. I checked under the car, and only saw the most minute of rust in the floor board.

Smog or no smog I told him I would be back tomorrow to talk cash I think. I leave it up to you faithful 2002FAQ members to tell me your opinions. 

Edited by silasmoon
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I agree with @mlytle, if it's a good car, grab it.   I live in San Diego, I have a 76 2002a and I pass smog with out an issue.  To be honest, the visual test is the most important one, a good smog guy can tune the carb and such to get it to pass the emissions sniffer.  My guy does it every time.  Granted, it "usually" costs me about $400.00 to get it to go through but, it's a small price to pay in order to have the car.

 

In the off years, I take the reactor off, put a IE Shorty header on it and remove the belt to the smog pump.  It helps the pep a bit but, you have to remember that the car only had what? 93+ horsepower to it to begin with. So, if you don't plan on making a racer out of it (or you just can't because of the fact you don't have a place to do the work) and you just want it for a daily driver, you'll enjoy the car.

Edited by mmichalik
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Thanks for the solid advice mmichalik - I have looked at 3 2002's so far, this one is the fourth and it really seems like a good deal. Right time. Right place. Right condition. I don't have a garage outside of a parking lot I know is safe, and I don't have any tools outside of a socket and metric wrench set I use for my motorcycle (74 BMW R90/6). I figure I might not even *be* in California in two years, and might just cross the smog bridge when it comes a rolling. I am only 27 - got to make some possible dumb purchases right? The biggest thing is the car was HALF of my original budget for one. 


Thanks for the solid advice mmichalik - I have looked at 3 2002's so far, this one is the fourth and it really seems like a good deal. Right time. Right place. Right condition. I don't have a garage outside of a parking lot I know is safe, and I don't have any tools outside of a socket and metric wrench set I use for my motorcycle (74 BMW R90/6). I figure I might not even *be* in California in two years, and might just cross the smog bridge when it comes a rolling. I am only 27 - got to make some possible dumb purchases right? The biggest thing is the car was HALF of my original budget for one. 

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