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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

I need your help on this one. I am thinking of buying a classic car (1968 model year) which was recently imported from UK into California LEGALLY. Since the car is older than 1975 it was exempted from EPA and DOT. The car is registered in Califorina and has CA license plates and can be on the road (The VIN number and engine number are in place). It has its registration documents and Bill of sale from England BUT The car does not have a California title.
Should I forget about buying this car?
Do you know how can I get it titled?
The seller says it has to go through a CARB referee to be able to get a title for it, have you come across something like this?

I'd appreciate your help.
 

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You'll need to discuss this with the CA DMV. They may want you to buy a Title Bond (basically an insurance policy to protect against any legal claims). I had to do that here in NC. I bought my MGA 1971 when I lived in Massachusetts but I never had a title (no title laws back then). Hagerty had a good price for a title bond (based on taxed value I think).
 

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You'll need to discuss this with the CA DMV. They may want you to buy a Title Bond (basically an insurance policy to protect against any legal claims).
Agree. I did this about 30 years ago when I registered a car without a title here in California. The cost of the bond at that time was about $150 - not a lot relative to my other costs to get this car on the road.

Arazito said:
It has its registration documents and Bill of sale from England BUT The car does not have a California title.
Something sounds odd in that story. I am skeptical that California would allow a car to be registered without a title. So saying that it never had a Ca. title just doesn't sound right. The car I needed to buy that bond for had been titled & registered here; the problem was that the paperwork had become lost, and the DMV's computer system was too primitive to retain records > N years old (where "N" was 2 or 3 years).

The seller says it has to go through a CARB referee to be able to get a title for it
I doubt CARB would be involved, since the car is pre-1976. I would just go to a good DMV office and hope you get a clerk with some intelligence/ambition (they vary a LOT in that regard). Do this before buying the car, ideally bringing whatever paperwork the car has.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
ghnl,

So if I could not get a title, the title bond from hagerty would be the best choice to go with?
What if I just drive the car without a title but renew the registration every year, what is so bad about not having a title?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Alfajay,

I believe if your car gray market car passes smog or is exempted from EPA and DOT and if you have documents like bill of sale, foreign registration, you can register your car in California. I have seen other examples where the car was registered in CA but didn't have a CA title.
The seller says the California Air Resource Board referee has to to inspect the car to be able to get a title for it. (I am not sure how much of that is true).
 

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Depending on where you are, some cars can be titled on possession of a bill of sale but some cannot. Not all countries issue what we think of as "titles" to signify the ownership of cars. The cars I've imported from Europe came with documents that signified ownership but were not titles in the American sense. In your case, however, since the owner has the car licensed in Califa, he should be able to go ahead and complete the process for getting a clear title.
 

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So if I could not get a title, the title bond from hagerty would be the best choice to go with?
Perhaps we aren't making the bond thing clear. The bond isn't an alternative to having a title. It is something that the DMV forces you to do as a requirement for them to issue a new title to a car that doesn't already have a title. I'm not a lawyer, but I think the reason for the bond is to provide the DMV with some compensation in the event that a prior owner sues them for aiding in the theft of their car.

What if I just drive the car without a title but renew the registration every year, what is so bad about not having a title?
I just don't think the DMV will offer you that option. I think they will insist on the car having a title before issuing a registration.

But again, 10 minutes with a cooperative DMV clerk will provide much better answers on this than my memory of how things worked back in the 1990's.

180OUT said:
since the owner has the car licensed in Calif, he should be able to go ahead and complete the process for getting a clear title.
This is an excellent point. If the seller really wants to get the car sold, this is something he should take care of. Otherwise, you are buying from someone who you don't know is the legal owner. I still think the seller isn't being truthful when he says that the car is currently registered but has no title. Are you even sure that his name is on the registration? Or that he has registration papers?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Are you guys sure that a car without a title cannot be registered in CA? I have seen other classic cars like this for sale. The car has all of its original documentation from UK, UK license plate, UK bill of sale that the dealer in UK sold the car to this guy in San Fransisco, UK registration documents. The car is registered in CA through September 2015 and has california license plates and stickers, it has its DOT and EPA documents too. The seller says the only CARB referee is in LA so the owner couldnt travel to LA from SF to get it titled.
I should talk to a DMV clerk but there is a possibilty that they will screw you up with wrong info.
 

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Motor Vehicle Bond (California): How to Get Yours

Above is a link to an article about obtaining a California title for a car that doesn't have one.

I haven't done this in California, but I have done it in Texas. It took some steps, including having a policeman certify the 'VIN' on the car, however I now have a clean Texas Title in my name, with no qualifiers.

Often there are agents who handle this, but I was able to do it myself.

It'll take a little research, a little money, some hassle, and some time, but you can obtain a title for your car.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Lokki,

That website is very helpful, thanks very much. However, I guess the case for gray market cars is different. There was never a title to begin with. This car came from a country where there is no such thing as "Title", if the car was here and once was titled and the titled was lost then I guess I should have followed those steps to get a title for it but in this case I think it is different. However the info on the Title bond was really helpful, thanks.

It does state in there that it is illegal to drive a car in CA without a title (I did not know that). Maybe it is different for gray market cars? maybe a UK bill of sale or registration is enough to prove ownership!??

The current owner has its CA registration documents, plates and stickers, but not a CA title, and he told me that it will be all provided to me. Does that mean he registered the car in Califa somehow illegally?


I am calling the owner tomorrow to clarify things up. What questions exactly should I ask him to clarify everything on this?
 

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Insist that he come with you to the DMV to conclude the transaction. Show him the cash, and offer to hand it to him when the DMV clerk hands you the title, or confirms it will be mailed to you.

If he refuses to go the DMV, walk away.

In Nevada I had the option of registering my cars using the Texas titles, and without receiving a Nevada title. For something like $25 they issued me new Nevada titles, but that was an optional process. My mistake was in adding my new wife to the title of my new Subaru. Not long later, and a diagnosis of "schizo-affective bipolar disorder", the judge gave her my car as part of her share of community property even though I bought it before the marriage.

Oh well. Live and learn.
 

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Anyone else get the feeling that the seller here is not on the upand up ?

Just pay the money and the paperwork will arrive......???

In Ca. you can get a title in your name without getting the car registered, but not the other way. They don't issue plates until all paperwork, inspections and fees are payed.
They will issue a temporary moving permit to get smog etc. done, but not plates.

The other possability is that Arazito has his terms a little wrong and we all can't get the picture right.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
If I end up getting the car I will ask him to go to DMV with him, he sounds and talks honest and he says that if I travel to SF to see the car and test drive it he will show me all of the documents and stuff. I have all the terms right, this is a picture from his ad's description.
 

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I'm with DP and some of the other guys...take the guy to DMV.

I've dealt with a number of title and registration issues over the last couple of years. I've never heard of a car getting plates and registration without a title. All I can think is that he has those items from another vehicle and is enticing you to purchase the car without the title.

I hope i'm wrong and you can show us how he did it.

Until then, buyer beware.
 

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Yes, you should have the seller come with you to the DMV but you can absolutely legally title this car (assuming CARB qualification etc).

You should contact a a Bonding Surety company and obtain a bond for a "Defective Title". They will help you through the process.

California DMV Defective Title Bond

I stole the info below from a company that does exactly this (link above) - I haven't done business with this company and am not therefore endorsing them, but the general information is useful.

DMV Defective Title Bond

Bond Amount

Based on the Current Value of the Vessel

Requiring Entity

State of California Department of Motor Vehicles

Underwriting Criteria

Instant Issue No Credit Check

Premium Rate(s)

2% of the Bond Amount (Minimum Premium of $150)

Who is Required to Secure this Bond

In the event an individual seeks registration and/or ownership certification for a vessel legally purchased, however proper title and or transfer of title has become lost, misplaced or was never provided, a defective title bond will satisfy the requirement set forth by the State of California Department of Motors Vehicles in completing the registration and/or release of title to an individual who properly completes the paperwork process and files a Defective title bond with the DMV.

Bond Requirement Specifics

A Defective Title Bond is required by the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles under circumstances where the original title or transfer of ownership has become lost, misplaced or was never properly provided to an individual who legally purchased a vessel and has paid that vessel in full.

Who is protected Under this Bond

The State of California Department of Motor Vehicles, any employees or officers of the DMV, and any and all subsequent purchasers of the vessel under which the bond was provided. The bond is considered an insurance policy which protects any lien holder or rightful owner to the vessel in the event title is released to a party who is not a legal owner to the vessel


One point for discussion is who (buyer or seller) is going to pay for the bond - in my case I made a pretty simple argument to the seller- you want to sell the car : you pay for the bond - Period.

Edit:

Here's a link to the California DMV form that's going to be required

https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/wcm/connect/8dab59e5-c733-4a20-a5d2-652e49ee8ad2/reg5057.pdf?MOD=AJPERES
 
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