Project V8 RX-7: Goin’ Legit (Project RX-7 vs the State of California)


Our appointment came on a Friday morning at a local trade school. California’s referee stations are established at colleges because of the equipment they require it makes sense for the state to help out student auto mechanics programs. Good for them! It also probably ensures the smog referees don’t get corrupted like an independent shop might. With all the students around the teachers can’t be taking under the table payments to pass violators.

We weren’t allowed to take any photographs either without express permission from the state, so sorry, you’ll have to use your imagination for a minute.  We met the referee and within a few seconds of seeing the car asked, “Why are you even here? You got an EO sticker, just take it to any smog shop. They’ll sure as hell be easier on the inspection than I’m going to be—I have to go through every system with a fine tooth comb—and I’m tough!” Well damn, we’re only here because the lady on the phone told us any engine change required a ref approval—sticker or not! “Nope, but you’re scheduled for the whole hour so I’ll take a look at if you want.”

Placed on the firewall in the engine compartment, the EO sticker will save you a trip to the smog referee!  That alone might be the enough to convince a would be swapper to get an E-ROD kit over a junkyard pullout. 

Positive we did everything by the book we complied and let him loose. Regretfully, during the entire hour we had scheduled the referee never even made it past the K&N intake.

Remember in Part 12 on building the intake where we mentioned some gray areas in the instructions that may have been up for a little interpretation and the CARB referees not liking gray areas? Well THIS is what we were talking about!

Our K&N FIPK from a C6 Corvette fits just right and the hood clears it fine!  It even comes with an EO sticker, but technically it wouldn’t apply for our application.  Having it on the firewall anyway may be enough to dissuade a cop from writing us a ticket for illegal mods.

So the referee has 2 problems with my intake:

Problem Number 1: Right off the bat the ref wants to see an EO for the K&N intake bellow thing we’re using. For some reason we could not see eye to eye on this one… we argued that there is no “original equipment” that we are supposed to be using. The E-ROD kit only comes with a MAF sensor and the bung to weld it to a tube. So in theory as long as we do everything the instructions say we should be able to cobble together anything we want, from whatever we want, right? Well, apparently not…  We spent most of the hour in the ref’s office on the line with Sacramento trying to get a ruling from some higher-up.

Problem Number 2: The referee’s job is to look at our E-ROD installation instructions that we brought with us and confirm that we’ve done everything by the book. Unfortunately, all the “book” has for intake is the diagram below and the language about having the Mass Airflow Sensor mounted at least 10 inches away from the throttle body in the center of a straight 4” diameter tube at least 6” long.

This small diagram printed in the E-ROD’s instructions shows all the components of the kit and everything that the referee will be looking for intact.  Notice that there is no intake–just a filter and MAF sensor.


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