The thing I don't understand is, 15 years ago when I had to smog my '66, all I was required to have was a PCV valve in my 289. But I'm under the impression that all cars sold in CA starting in '66 came with the thermacator system. I was never questioned about smog equipment back then.
I think you lucked out because it should have failed the visual inspection.
I hate to tell you guys, all this has been done and more. Vehicles owners were not happy with how badly the late 70s smog laded vehicles performed. They got fed up and started removing smog equipment in an attempt to improve power & gas mileage.
Kalifornia set up random check points at urban locations to verify there was no tampering with emission controls. If the vehicle passed inspection you got a windshield sticker that said either NOX Approved or Exempt depending on what year vehicle. That way they wouldn't test the same vehicle twice. I don't know how long the program lasted but I'm guessing it wasn't cost effective.
Shortly after that they began using the DMV as the emission police by requiring a passing smog check when transferring vehicle ownership. For my '70 Mustang I was forced to purchase a Nox kit supplied and retrofitted by the testing station.
Not only did the F'n kit cost me $30 plus labor for the test, it also ran crap afterward so I bypassed it the minute I got home. That was a lot of money back then for a 16 year old student earning $3.50 an hour working part time.
Registration requirements have changed many times since then. I thought I was free and clear as long as I wasn't transferring ownership but then they went to biannual inspections. First it was just major cities and their surrounding counties but eventually it went state wide. Only '65 and earlier were not required to have biannual inspection.
They actually relaxed the inspections slightly in the early 90s by not requiring smog certificates for '65 and earlier vehicles when transferring ownership. In the mean time they set up unmanned monitoring devices on some freeway on ramps that used some type of infra red technology that could measure tailpipe emissions from a distance. They were trying to prove that 90% of the smog was being produced by a small percentage of gross polluters. Too bad for them they were never able to prove it with any of the data collected.
They also tried a 1-800 snitch program so a-holes with nothing better to do could report smoking vehicles. That was completely useless because even if you got a notice sent to you about your vehicle there was nothing they could do. Only a LEO had the authority to cite a vehicle with excessive smoke coming from the tail pipe and require an emission test.
They also tried a buy out program through DMV registration and offered $500 for 25+ year old vehicles to be bought and destroyed (of course they also had to be complete and in running condition). You can probably guess how well that worked out. They also went after auto dismantlers to keep them from storing and selling parts for vehicles beyond a certain age.
the only vehicles in CA now exempt from regular testing are '74 and earlier. This was originally supposed to go up each year but some tree-hugging lobbyists convinced the Governator to modify that law to cut it off at '74. Probably because '75 and up came with catalytic converters.
I hear this all the time. My car is exempt...it's exempt from smog equipment!! Wrong... Wilit is correct. The older vehicles are only exempt from biannual testing. There is no law that allows tampering or removal of smog control devices other than parts that have been CARB approved. Even with the approved parts, they still have to meet emission standards if tested. I doubt that will ever change.
So if you don't have a pre-emission vehicle, don't drive around with smoking exhaust, a 6-71 blower sticking out the hood or any other blatantly obvious signs that you've done illegal mods. Trust me...you can get pulled over for probable cause. If you get stopped, don't dis the LEOs for any reason. They are well within their rights to make your life miserable.
A brief story about how my Uncle got screwed twice.
He bought a '75 Ranchero in California. It was more expensive because Ford passed all the costs of the emission controls on to the consumer.
Because of his job he was forced to relocate to NJ a couple years later. He wanted to buy a new Bronco from the Ford dealership and use the Ranchero as a trade in.
The dealer was in the middle of working out the trade in value when he glanced over and noticed the California plates.
He said "Did you buy that car in California?"
My uncle said "yeah why?"
He said "It's got all those damn emission controls"
"what about them?"
"I can't give you the full trade in price because a lot of buyers around here don't want a car with all that stuff."
"can't you just take them off?"
"Sorry no...we're not allowed to do that"
I don't know how much less my Uncle got for it but I remember he was really ticked off.