California's C3 Corvette Car Club

California Tips for Buying a 1980 Chevrolet Corvette

By Tony Griffitts

If you live in California and are thinking about buying a 1980 Corvette you may want to read this article first. Some of the tips in this article also apply to all 1976 through 1982 3rd generation Corvettes (C3). If you live in California the Corvette must pass a smog test. In California the seller of a 1976 through 1982 C3 Corvette is responsible for a smog inspection and must provide proof of a passed smog test within the last 90 days prior to the sale. This helps protect buyers from vehicles that may be very costly to repair before they can be registered. If you buy a vehicle from outside the State of California you will be responsible for all the repairs needed to pass the smog and DMV inspection. For this reason, buying a 1976 through 1982 C3 Corvette outside California can prove to be way more costly.

Before you buy your new C3 from out of state, get familiar with the engine bay and what parts need to be there for the vehicle to have a chance to pass the smog test and inspection. Many C3 Corvettes offered for sale in other states would be very costly for a California resident to register. Two dead giveaways, are side pipes, and Thermostatic Air Cleaner parts replaced with round classic style air cleaner. While these modifications may be legal in other states, in California they will be costly to restore.

In 1980 Chevrolet made three models of Corvette, L48, L82, and LG4 305 c.i.d. (5.0 l) the only model legal for sale new in California. While it is now legal to register all three models in California, they must have all the smog emissions equipment that they were originally sold with in the United States of America. For the California LG4 that means it must have the Computer Controlled Catalytic Converter (C-4) System/Electronic Control Module (ECM).

ZZ4 350 installed in a 1980 Corvette (Original L48 49 State legal) with all the required smog equipment.

ZZ4 350 installed in a 1980 Corvette (Original L48, 49 State legal) with all the required smog equipment.

Gen. 1 ZZ4

Parts to look for when considering buying a 1980 Corvette, especially if you live in California. Thermostatic Air Cleaner is required.

EGR valve

EGR valve located under the air cleaner on the passenger side.

Air Injection Reactor Pump

Air Injection Reactor Pump is required to help burn off excess fuel in the exhaust manifold. If the vette has after market headers, there is a good chance this is missing.