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So, I had on my hands a potentially attractive prospect of buying a 1958 MGA as an uncompleted restoration project. The car was very close to my own shop. The problem was, although I had seen the car, I had not met the owner, because as it turns out he was living in Europe. In addition, he told me the car had not been titled or registered in California. It had been ‘under restoration’ since 1991 – and the previous owner who brought the car to California now lived in Australia. Sounds sketchy…

I did some sleuthing online and found that current owner was a car guy and had previously lived in the area. The owner of the shop where the car was also knew him – although was not happy about ending up storing the car. The current owner did have some paperwork. It was a 1991 registration from Alabama and a note from the local tax authority stating that titles were not issued to old cars in that jurisdiction. The owner emailed me scanned copies of those two documents and the serial numbers matched the serial number on the car. Bingo!

Several states do not issue titles for older cars. The Department of Motor Vehicles in California will allow you to title a car from those states if you have a registration and a letter from the authorities there attesting that they do not not issue titles for older vehicles such as the one you have. California also requires that the VIN (or serial number) on the car be verified by a DMV employee, law enforcement officer or a state licensed VIN Verifier. So, with the docs matching the serial number on the MGA there was a good chance of getting a regular California title.

The next hurdle was how to exchange the money for the car and title. The owner did not want to send the originals until he had the cash and I did not want to transfer funds overseas until I had the papers for the car. One can use classic cars escrow services – but that is extra cost. Fortunately, the owner of the MGA had a friend in a nearby town, she got the papers, we met at a bank and exchanged the cash for the papers. She called the owner and the owner alerted the shop owner that the car had been sold to me. My son was right there and ready with a trailer to take possession. All of a sudden I had an MGA. So far so good.

1958 MGA on way to its new home.

Now, what about getting the VIN verified and getting the title and plates? Well that is where the amazing Mike and his company – Vin Verifiers come into play – Michael 818-339-6585.

Mike has verified other cars for me and he is professional, prompt and a really nice guy. Not only can he verify the VIN number, but for a very modest fee he can do all the DMV paperwork and get the title and plates to you quicker than if you go to the DMV yourself. Within days of Mike’s visit I had my California title, plates and registration for the MGA. I also had a bright red restoration project I had not planned on sitting in my shop…. Best of all though, my long-suffering wife really liked the looks of the car (She drives a red Alfa Romeo Spider and is partial to red cars…) Hey, what could be better!

Seal of approval for the new project MGA from my wife.
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