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Chicagoland MG Club: Driveline
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  Chicagoland MG Club:Driveline
IS IT LEGAL to Buy or Sell a Title?
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This answer should be intuitively obvious to the most casual observer. Absolutely it is NOT legal, as the intention is specifically for someone to apply a title to a car to which it should not be attached. You cannot actually sell a title, as that bit of paper is merely a document indicating who owns the car. The implication there is that both parties understand that the buyer may have a car which does not currently have a clear title (quite possibly for good reason), and both parties to the transaction are knowingly about to try to attach this errant title to the car which should not be legally titleable (at least not in that manner). I think the legal charge would be “Conspiracy to commit fraud”, and either the seller or the buyer (equal partners in the conspiracy) could go to jail on the same charge.

However, .... Where there’s a will, there’s a way? The legal way is to never, never, NEVER sell or buy a title, but to always sell or buy a car with a legal title “attached”. The term “attached” simply means “associated with”, but in fact you can attach the legal title to any part of the car you are selling. You can put it under the wiper blade, lay it on the seat, hold it in the air anywhere in the physical or logical vicinity of the car, or simply state that it legally belongs to a particular car, which will always be referred to according to the VIN number or Car Number which appears on the title. If you wanted to physically attach it to something, the seller might paper clip the title to the ignition key when he turns it over to the buyer, but in fact it does not have to be physically attached to any particular part of the car.

Now you know that there is a one to one relationship between legal titles and legal cars. That is, a legal title cannot be applied to more than one car. You may also realize that the car which belongs with that title may be in practically any physical form, including totally disassembled, or reassembled with a variety of odd and non-original parts, or may in fact be missing any number of parts. So what you need to do is to keep this title logically “attached” to the car to which it was originally assigned, and sell the car, not the title. Assuming the buyer is about to restore this car, it may be reassembled from practically any odd collection of parts, any of which may or may not be original to this car. Some of the parts to be used for reassembly may even already be in the buyer’s possession before the purchase of this car.

So the ad should not read, “Title for sale”. The ad should read, “Car for sale. Legal title. Some parts missing. Good for restoration project”. The seller might (optionally) include a picture of the part of the car that is not missing. What you see is what you get. Then the car is sold/bought, the title is legally transferred, and the new owner will finish the restoration of the car which will ultimately bear the related VIN or Car Number as shown on the title.

All I’m saying is that while it is generally illegal to sell or buy a title, it is generally legal to sell or buy a car which has a clear and legal title. Not being in any way legally qualified, I will only guess that some part of the car which might be construed as possibly being worth as much as the sale price should be delivered along with the title. Anybody know how much a nice vintage hub cap with a 40 year history is worth?

Barney Gaylord
1958 MGA with an attitude
(and a lot of non-original parts)

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