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removing cat converters in antique cars

Discussion in 'Technical Q&A' started by rickjaffe, Mar 29, 2005.

  1. rickjaffe

    rickjaffe Formula Junior

    Mar 6, 2005
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    richard jaffe
    had this academic discussion with a fellow ferrari owner about removing the cat converters from old ferraris, for example 30 year old 308s. Since there is no smog requirements as far as I can tell for antique cars (in texas defined as cars 25 years old or older), and such cars do not require annual inspection, but only payment of a five year registration fee, I say there is no legal impediment to removing them and thus having a free horsepower increase (I guess it would go from the 240 US verstion to the 255 european version). I also think it would be relatively easy to do: wouldn't it involve just removing the cats and getting some bypass plugs or something for the openings in the sides of the muffler. Then the question is could a regular muffler shop make and install that bypass or plug. My friend says it can't be done.

    well that's our discussion who is right?
     
  2. parkerfe

    parkerfe F1 World Champ

    Sep 4, 2001
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    FYI, it is a violation of Federal law to remove any emissions related equipment that came on a car regardless of its age or any particular states emission testing requirements. Of course if your state doesn't require emissions testing the chance of getting caught is slim. However, in Georgia last spring at a car show Georgia Clean Air inspectors showed up unannounced and nailed several owners of resto-mods that had had their cats and other emission equipment removed. So, proceed at your own risk! And, if you do decide to remove your cats, don't post the fact on a public forum such as FC that can be viewed by all including potential EPA investigators.
     
  3. pete04222

    pete04222 Formula Junior

    Nov 1, 2003
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    Peter Cyr
    Your friend is right, it would be a violation of the federal clean air act to remove the catalytic convertor. Doesn't matter if it is an antique auto or only used for off-road driving, you may not legally tamper with any emissions controls on any motor vehicle designed to meet federal emissions standards. A reputable garage won't touch it with a 10-foot pole. They could face fines up to $25k. I think the maximum fine under federal law for an individual tampering with emissions controls is $2,500.

    Also, Texas has it's own law that reads:
    Texas law prohibits any person from selling, offering for sale, leasing, or offering to lease any vehicle not equipped with all emission control systems or devices in good operable condition. Violators are subject to penalties under the Texas Clean Air Act of up to $25,000 per violation.
     
  4. rickjaffe

    rickjaffe Formula Junior

    Mar 6, 2005
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    richard jaffe

    I haven't checked federal law, but if the above is the correct and is the entirety of the texas law, then in my opinion, neither the removal of an ECM from a car, nor the use of such car violates texas state law. When I get a chance I'll look up the exact wording of the fedreal statute.
     
  5. Dave

    Dave F1 Rookie

    Apr 15, 2001
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    The 308 did not use a catalytic converter untill 1978.
    The 1976 and 1977 model 308s that were shipped to the US used a Thermoreactor muffler.
    Not only is it against the law to tamper with the emissions control system on a car, if you do not remove all of the system properly from a 308,
    problems arise down the road.
    "You might want to do a search"
    Also you would not see the horse power gaines you expected just from removing the smog gear, as the early Euro model 308 had a different Cam grind.
     
  6. don_xvi

    don_xvi F1 Rookie

    Nov 1, 2003
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    Read the first 2 pages of each of these brochures from the EPA and you'll see!

    http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/policies/civil/caa/mobile/donttamper.pdf

    http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/policies/civil/caa/mobile/exhaust-guide-rpt.pdf

    And for all the anti Archive Search Nazis out there, I now see your point! It's been so enjoyable looking up this information to repost it rather than mentioning that it's been posted before and it only took me 5 minutes! I'll be sure to do this all the time from now on!

    Still an unrepentatnt ASN.
     
  7. pete04222

    pete04222 Formula Junior

    Nov 1, 2003
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    I haven't looked at the whole Texas law, but I doubt there are any provisions in there about disregarding federal law. The relevant passage from the clean air act can be found here: http://www.epa.gov/air/caa/caa203.txt

    The prohibition is for "for any person to manufacture or sell, or offer to
    sell, or install, any part or component intended for use
    with, or as part of, any motor vehicle or motor vehicle
    engine, where a principal effect of the part or component is
    to bypass, defeat, or render inoperative any device or
    element of design installed on or in a motor vehicle or
    motor vehicle engine in compliance with regulations under
    this title"

    Again, this is just information, the chances of you getting caught doing this are slim. But any pipe needed to replace the Cat would have to be fabricated by yourself or a buddy. A shop can't legally make the pipe for you. Your discussion with your friend was whether or not there was any legal impediment to removing the cats. There is.
     
  8. spider348

    spider348 Formula 3
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    The original question was "can it be done?". Not is it legal.
    The EPA publications detail only commercial shop liability. There is no mention of personal liability in either. What is the EPA stance if a person removes or tampers with a cars emissions system?
    I agree it is foolhardy to post on an internet forum any illegal act such as tampering with a cars emission system. But the question remains, how many cars from the infamous thermal reactor era still have those horrid systems in place? How many Euro Ferraris, Porsches etc have the conversion company installed DOT/ EPA safety and emissions systems intact? All of them I am sure!
     
  9. pete04222

    pete04222 Formula Junior

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    The EPA says "any person" not any commercial shop. My understanding of the original question was the legality of it, not the practical "bolt in a pipe" issue. Of course it can physically be done.

    There is also the "nothing's illegal unless you get caught" argument.
     
  10. rickjaffe

    rickjaffe Formula Junior

    Mar 6, 2005
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    richard jaffe
     
  11. pete04222

    pete04222 Formula Junior

    Nov 1, 2003
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    Peter Cyr
    Rick, you didn't stir up any hornet's nest. We're just a bunch of guys trying to help each other out here. If I seem aggresive it is not my intention.

    The answer to your question is simple. Can you remove the catalytic convertor and replace it with a straight pipe to gain more horsepower? Yes.
    Is it legal to do so? No.

    You seem to stress about whether or not Texas law would prohibit you from making this mod. I don't think Texas bothered passing a law because there is already a FEDERAL law prohibiting you from doing so. From my quick scanning of the internet, the only parts of the Texas clean air act I found that are different from the federal is where they made it more stringent. In other words, you have to do all that, plus, in Texas, you have to do this.....

    Having said all that, I wouldn't yank out my Cat and replace it with a straight pipe just for the sake of 15hp. However, if my Cat were to fail and a new one was like $1,000 compared to a straight pipe I could make myself....................Let's just say I'm handy with a welder.

    Would I be worried about getting caught? No, the EPA has a limited budget and they are going to concentrate on the steel mills and power plants, they don't give a rat's ass about some guy with a sports car he drives less than 2,000 miles a year. They have a law that it is not practicable to enforce.
     
  12. Dr Tommy Cosgrove

    Dr Tommy Cosgrove Two Time F1 World Champ
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    You'll never get cought. If you want to take it off, take it off.
     
  13. parkerfe

    parkerfe F1 World Champ

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    I sure hope you guys don't tell your children that its OK to violate the law as long as "...you'll never get caught..." Would you invite you son or daughter to do the same? EPA laws are there to protect us all. And, don't fool yourself into thinking the EPA will only go after the big industry guys. Remember , they are government employees and will go after the easiest target most of the time.
     
  14. Ken

    Ken F1 World Champ

    Oct 19, 2001
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    I have never seen a "legal" Lotus Europa. They all have had some emissions modifications. Yet they still pass tests....sometimes.

    I got an antique plate so I wouldn't have to test anymore, plus I pay $55 every 5 years as opposed to $78 each year for a sticker. when I got the plates, I also got 2 months later a notice of suspension for failing to test emissions. Hmmm...IL gave me the plate, shouldn't they know I'm exempt? Nope...I had to submit an exempt form. BTW, the notice of suspension had my antique plate # on it!

    Ken
     
  15. pete04222

    pete04222 Formula Junior

    Nov 1, 2003
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    Good points. I don't have kids myself, but I would like to think I set a good example for the nieces and nephews that look up to me. I would never advocate breaking any law and I agree that the laws are there for the general good of the nation. All the emissions devices on my car are hooked up and functional.

    I disagree with you on your thinking that the EPA is going to go after the little guy because it is easier. They have limited resources and it would be extremely difficult for them to look under the 200 million or so cars on the road to find out which ones have been tampered with. It's much easier and better for their image and application of resources to target the steel mills, paper mills and power plants that are belching out black smoke. Those are the guys that are the most damaging to the environment, not me with my little red sportscar I drive 20 miles on Sundays. They get the cars by targeting the source, the vehicle manufacturer, not you and me. They have laws saying you can't mess with the car, but they can't realistically enforce it. They rely on the fact that most reasonable people will comply. When you said they dropped in on a car show in Georgia, I think that was just sending out a message rather than a crackdown on automobile enthusiasts. When they do get a car or garage owner, I think it is more by chance or a tip or complaint than the fact they were actively looking for it.
     
  16. don_xvi

    don_xvi F1 Rookie

    Nov 1, 2003
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    Guys, Don't think there isn't already a roadside emissions checker in testing that will analyze your emissions while you're entering the freeway...
     
  17. Dr Tommy Cosgrove

    Dr Tommy Cosgrove Two Time F1 World Champ
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    I don't have kids and I still say - and will always say - they could care less about John Smith from Smithers, WV. and his cat-gutted 1977 Pontiac Firebird. I bet I even could write the EPA over and over again telling on John Smith and I would be ignored. I know I would. No money in it for them. They like big fat juicy corps with really really deep pockets like Alabama Power Co. etc.
    And please don't preach about the environment. MANY of the cars owned by members here would NEVER pass the 2005 standard even in their best tune. Snake a pipe up your Boxer and see how clean it really is. Compared to todays standards those 80 models legally cough out enough ppm HC to shut a car manufacturer down in a instant. It may be legal for it's model year but so what if it's the spotted owl's life on the line?
    I am not picking on you, Frank. I like you and I really like your car and you give great advice, but practically speaking, as much as these cars get driven it's not killing the first tree and the Gov is way too interested in the big guy to fool with Mr. Smith and his Firebird.
     
  18. parkerfe

    parkerfe F1 World Champ

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    Doc, your argument is again that it's OK since you aren't likely to get caught. That is hardly sound reasoning for a free society to aspire to now is it! I thought you healing industry guys always went by the motto, "...first, do no harm..." While I agree that my old 1982 Fiat spouts out more fumes than a new Honda Hybrid, it does pass the emission requirements for its year. The law does not require you to bring an older car up to 2005 EPA specs, but is does require you to keep it at the EPA specs it came from the factory with. Why would you want it any other way? As far as the EPA is concerned, why don't you contact them and ask if they would like to inspect your cat-less 308...you may be surprised!
     
  19. lusso64

    lusso64 Formula 3

    Apr 12, 2004
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    To get back to the original question which covered whether it was legal to remove the cats (No) to get more HP...

    Why not replace the old restrictive cats with newer, higher flow ones? Keeps the EPA and your conscience happy, and also improves performance. Best of both worlds, yes?

    To extend this further, all the air pump junk they put on the later carb cars was to help burn HCs ending up in the exhaust on the over-run. Converting to a modern EFI system (even aftermarket) will eliminate the over-run pollution problem (They can be programmed to cut fuel on the over-run) and also give better drivability, better mileage, and better emissions allround.

    The same reasoning goes for any of the early injected cars too - ie those with the CIS system. They can be cleaned up and made to perform better by moving to EFI. If I had the spare $, I would love to do this to a Mondial 3.2 convertible and make a daily driver out of it.

    Dave
     
  20. spider348

    spider348 Formula 3
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    Frank, or anyone who can answer my question, please correct me if I am wrong regarding the EPA/ DOT requirements for Euro spec cars. Important because my next Ferrari will be most likely be a 512 bb if I locate a nice example and my wife does not throw me out!
    The Federal authorities expect these cars to be as modified and certified upon importation into the USA. All DOT mandated safety modifications in place, bumpers, door inner beams, etc etc etc. All EPA required equipment as installed, working condition. That includes catalytic converters, O2 sensors etc. I know this is an issue in California. Many early Ferraris cannot be sold there because they do not meet the BAR standards. May pass emissions but still not in compliance.
    If, in point of fact, a Euro Ferrari is not within the Federally mandated specifications isn’t that Ferrari the same as any Ferrari, Porsche etc that has had the catalytic converters removed?
    A Euro Ferrari that has been returned to “as factory manufactured” is out of compliance, correct?
     
  21. cavallo_nero

    cavallo_nero Formula 3

    Nov 3, 2003
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    I firmly believe that carb ferrari v8 cars and cats do not mix. there are not enough sensors on board these cars to detect an ignition failure that can result in a cat fire....cats are better suited to updated fuel injection/monitoring systems in my opinion......................john
     
  22. Dr Tommy Cosgrove

    Dr Tommy Cosgrove Two Time F1 World Champ
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    I can't disagree with that. Although, I bet they still wouldn't go out to Mr. Smith's house if I begged them to.
     
  23. parkerfe

    parkerfe F1 World Champ

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    Who is Mr. Smith anyway?
     
  24. scorpion

    scorpion Formula Junior

    Jan 19, 2004
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    If you live in the midwest it's actually difficult to find an older Ferrari with all or any of the emissions present/working.
     
  25. Dr Tommy Cosgrove

    Dr Tommy Cosgrove Two Time F1 World Champ
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    A made up example
     

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