No Title...No Problem

Project Car Update: Austin Healey

We have made progress on the Austin-Healey Sprite project. After dealing with the DMV on the paperwork for the lost title we have some great tips we will point out for those of you living here in the Peoples Republic of California.

This Sprite was abandoned at a old airport over 20 years ago, with no motor, tranny, glass, interior, it is just a rolling shell. The car came with a bill of sale and the well wishes of John who had sold me the car for $100. Beyond that.... it was up to me to get the car titled and in my name. Now the first thing you should know is that in the State of California any vehicle or vessel that is sold for less than $5,000 can have a title issued for it with a bill of sale and a statement of facts. If there is no record in the system... the car is titled in your name and all is well. However, you do need to get the VIN verified.

In case you don't know the VIN (or Vehicle Identification Number), is the most important number on your car according State and Federal Government. Messing with a VIN can get you in some really hot water so if you are planning a body swap you might want to omit that section of the build from your build-thread you post online. Luckily our VIN was unmolested and in perfect shape and had never been removed from the chassis. We did still need an official VIN verification from the State Police (California Highway Patrol), the DMV, or a licensed DMV Service. The third option is by far the quickest and easiest to deal with, the DMV and CHP generally take forever, if the car is not running you need to set an appointment with the CHP to come out to the car and it can take months to get done. I suggest using a licensed DMV service like I did, sure it was $60 but within 20 mins the paperwork was all done and I had everything I needed to go to the DMV.

I would be out of the country for a few weeks so I set an appointment for the DMV for when I get back to town. My appointment was first thing in the morning and the line was already out the door, after waiting nearly an hour after my "appointment" I was called to window 15 where a husky and lethargic woman barked at me for about 5 mins. According to her the paperwork was wrong and I would need to find the original registered owner. I pointed out to her the the paperwork was not wrong which was then verified by a supervisor much to her displeasure. So instead of just doing her job and collecting my payment she decided to punish me for knowing her job better than she did and told me I would have to wait. After 45 mins of waiting and her helping several other citizens I asked to speak to the supervisor who told me "It is at their discretion, as to who they help and when and if I wanted my paperwork processed I should just sit down and wait my turn". Never mind that this is now over two hours past my "appointment" so I collected my things and left to try again another day.

It was at this point that I remembered that I could do DMV service at the Auto Club (AAA). The next morning I went to AAA and renewed my membership and requested to use the DMV services. Within 15 minuets I was greeted by a polite young lady and within 5 minuets she had entered my paperwork into the system and printed my Non-Op and Title Info, pointing out that I would receive a title in about 3 weeks, all without an appointment. So if you have AAA be sure to take full advantage of their DMV services.

Now that we have title on the way, we are going to start prepping and planning for the build. Be sure to check back often as we expect to be moving quickly on this project... now we just need to find a transmission.