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Old 12-05-2019, 04:25 PM   #1
Ed in Maine
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Default Model A Registration Woes

Today I went to look at a 1931 Model A that is for sale. I liked it, it is a good ten footer in very good running condition. The price was negotiated and I am happy with it. This is the situation:
1. The owner has passed away and his wife is selling the car.
2. The car has an out of state plate and registration and a title. It seems that the owner felt it was more convenient to keep the old paper work then to re-register the car in his new home state.
3. I have a copy of the title and death certificate and plan to go to the DMV for advice before I seal the deal with payment.
4. After I got back home, I find that the VIN # on the title does not match the number on the engine. The engine must have been changed when it was rebuilt. I suppose the VIN # on the frame may match the title but who wants to go through all the work of removing the front fender?


I want the car but I'm afraid I will be laughed out of the DMV trying to register a car with a different ID number. Has anyone run across a situation like this? Any suggestions? Thank you, Ed
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Old 12-05-2019, 04:29 PM   #2
alexiskai
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Default Re: Model A Registration Woes

Fair warning here, most advice will be state-specific.
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Old 12-05-2019, 05:17 PM   #3
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Default Re: Model A Registration Woes

We had the same thing happen. They had to deal with the state where the title was.
On the number, the state probably assigned a vin number and that is the one to use. It has nothing to do with the engine number. Both of my A’s have state assigned numbers with a small plate on the fire wall. I think your plan is good. Just go in and lay it all out. You will be ok.
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Old 12-05-2019, 05:38 PM   #4
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Default Re: Model A Registration Woes

Hello,Pennsylvania will issue a state VIN number to be attached to the car usually on the firewall if the original can’t be found or missing or doesn’t match title. Seems rare to find a Model A still having the original engine.A friend of mine bought a 1939 Lincoln Zephyr from New York and had to go that process.He didn’t know it was on bell housing.
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Old 12-05-2019, 05:50 PM   #5
Bill G
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Default Re: Model A Registration Woes

The state that it is currently registered in may have put a registration plate on the firewall or the inside door jamb. If that state issued a state assigned number you may be home free.
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Old 12-05-2019, 05:55 PM   #6
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Default Re: Model A Registration Woes

Hi, Hopefully the Maine DMV will not go and try to match the engine number with the registration unless the clerk/agent is trying to be the next Inspector Clouseau (which I highly doubt). Present your papers which indicate a clear title and let them take the ball and process it. DEFINITELY DO NOT TELL THEM ABOUT THE MISMATCH !! Here in NY they took my papers (Model A) which indicated a clear title and processed it immediately, happy to get the money and close the deal. I realize that when it comes to motor vehicle registration every state is a foreign country, but it's the Holiday Season, a time of giving, so I think things will work out! A good strategy might be to go to the DMV Office late in the day when they are in a hurry to close and go home. Good luck!
Please let everyone know how you made out. Gary
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Old 12-05-2019, 06:04 PM   #7
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Default Re: Model A Registration Woes

Is the current title in his name? That should be okay if it does. You will probably need something to verify that his wife is the executor, unless her name is on the title, which I suspect it is not, plus the death certificate.



As for the VIN/serial number, you have two routes to go. One is to not worry about it and register it in your name. You will not the the only person who has a car where the engine number does not match the title. Without taking the body off, you won't be able to confirm the SN on the title is the same as the frame number. And what if it is not?


The other thing you can do is to see about getting it titled in Vermont initially with the engine number you have. You will need to have a police officer check the SN, run an NCIC check to see if it is stolen and have that same agency give you a letter per the Vermont DMV requirements and then register it in that state and then either run Vermont tags or transfer it to Maine.


New England is a bit different from most states, i.e. what I just told you about Vermont. New Hampshire has a similar process and I wouldn't be surprised if Maine doesn't either. Everyone in the country runs Maine licenses on their trailers so they don't have to pay excise tax on the purchase, so maybe getting a title there for a car like yours isn't very difficult?


I would take all this into account when coming up with a price to pay for the car, because of the title/SN situation. Giving more information to DMV than you need to is not always the best approach. I will PM you my phone number and you can call me if you want to discuss. Someone in Maine or in your local Model A club has probably dealt with a situation similar to this.
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Old 12-05-2019, 06:32 PM   #8
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Default Re: Model A Registration Woes

Take the paperwork to AAA if you are a member. That will probably be the easiest, nest would be go to your own DMV and present the papers. Get the widow to write out a bill of sale which she signs for her late husband. I would not disclose the difference in numbers.
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Old 12-05-2019, 06:42 PM   #9
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Default Re: Model A Registration Woes

Go to the DMV and be straight up about what is going on. If it can be worked out you will have a car you like and will have no worries going forward.
If it turns out you will need to jump through a bunch of hoops to make it work then you will need to decide if that is worth it for the price you negotiated. If not you can negotiate a lower price and go for it or walk away.
There are lots of A's out there.
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Old 12-05-2019, 07:25 PM   #10
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Default Re: Model A Registration Woes

Your situation can easily become "title hell". If DMV makes it complicated be prepared to pass on the deal and find a ride with a clear in-state title. Making the deal contingent on getting a clear title was a smart move. Good Luck.
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Old 12-05-2019, 09:13 PM   #11
Charlie Stephens
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Default Re: Model A Registration Woes

Quote:
Originally Posted by gary678* View Post
Hi, Hopefully the Maine DMV will not go and try to match the engine number with the registration unless the clerk/agent is trying to be the next Inspector Clouseau (which I highly doubt). Present your papers which indicate a clear title and let them take the ball and process it. DEFINITELY DO NOT TELL THEM ABOUT THE MISMATCH !! Here in NY they took my papers (Model A) which indicated a clear title and processed it immediately, happy to get the money and close the deal. I realize that when it comes to motor vehicle registration every state is a foreign country, but it's the Holiday Season, a time of giving, so I think things will work out! A good strategy might be to go to the DMV Office late in the day when they are in a hurry to close and go home. Good luck!
Please let everyone know how you made out. Gary
Ok, let's assume you get through DMV without telling them about the mismatch. What are you going to do if a police officer stops you for a minor violation and since it is a slow night wants to run the VIN and asks you where it is on the car? What if you are in an accident and your insurance agent looks at the VIN on the car and says "This isn't the car we insured"? How are you going to explain it when you sell it to someone else? My advice is to get the title straight now, it is only going to be worse later.

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Old 12-05-2019, 09:25 PM   #12
TerryO
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Default Re: Model A Registration Woes

Move to Georgia, get a bill pf sale and you are home free


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Old 12-05-2019, 09:32 PM   #13
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Default Re: Model A Registration Woes

Yes, the rules are very state specific. Find out exactly what you need in the state of Maine (or the state you are registering in). I think that they are pretty easy.

I had a similar problem and anticipated big problems. However, here in Connecticut for a car that old they were satisfied with just a Bill of Sale.

Best of luck. Keep us posted.

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Old 12-05-2019, 10:02 PM   #14
Mike V. Florida
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Default Re: Model A Registration Woes

If it were me I would put it on the wife to get the title in her name. Then buy it from her. There is no proof that the husband has ever had title and as such it will most likely need a judge to solve the issue legally.


While absolutely not legal, but I have met people that have just signed the name of the person on the title and re-stamped the engine. Again illegal.
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Old 12-06-2019, 08:17 AM   #15
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Default Re: Model A Registration Woes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike V. Florida View Post
If it were me I would put it on the wife to get the title in her name. Then buy it from her. There is no proof that the husband has ever had title and as such it will most likely need a judge to solve the issue legally.


While absolutely not legal, but I have met people that have just signed the name of the person on the title and re-stamped the engine. Again illegal.
I would go this route. You may be out of luck with Maine, I had a title issue with my car being last titled in Maine, when I contacted the dmv they told me they do not hold records(or titles) for older cars and I was out of luck, and my car was a '79! Truck trailers are a different issue altogether. Those tags are issued through a broker with a residency.
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Old 12-06-2019, 08:32 AM   #16
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Default Re: Model A Registration Woes

deaths. have the wife title to her name. bingo bongo fresho titlo. the dead are not authorized to sell in US markets.
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Old 12-06-2019, 08:47 AM   #17
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Default Re: Model A Registration Woes

Maine is a very easy state to title in. no need to get your liver in a quiver!


who cares if the engine matches up? half of them or more dont.
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Old 12-06-2019, 08:52 AM   #18
Keith True
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Default Re: Model A Registration Woes

I don't think any of what you are reading applies to you.You are in Maine.Just like N.H.you can scribble a bill of sale on the back of an envelope,get a verification of VIN,and go register.I think you are going to complicate things by showing up with old titles from deceased people in other states.If you start volunteering information and asking questions they are going to have to answer questions they don't really have answers for.There are no titles on old cars in Maine.Go talk to old car people around you,they can tell you just what to do,it is a nothing process.The guys I deal with in Maine say they all use just the engine number,if you try to explain the non-matching thing you will start a very confusing situation.
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Old 12-06-2019, 03:59 PM   #19
1931 flamingo
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Default Re: Model A Registration Woes

Do what Keith says, using the existing engine numbar. DO NOT open a "can of worms".
Good Luck, let us know how you make out.
Paul in CT


"Back in the day" I bought and sold dozens of cars here in CT never validating a S/N or VIN #, just copied from the previous pa-work.
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Old 12-06-2019, 05:45 PM   #20
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Default Re: Model A Registration Woes

I also recommend talking to your local AAA office first. They process titles and registration and often have someone who specializes in older cars. I did that here in California, with a Model A I purchased from someone in New York. They were great to work with and very efficient.
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