|The MGA With An Attitude
MGA NUMBERS TECH -- BUY-101A
Vehicle ID plate bearing the Car Number
A prominent point is that the body number is not the legal ID for the MGA, it's the "Car Number". The Car Number is (or should be) found on a large plate screwed to the heater shelf in the engine compartment. Click here for more information on the format of the Car Number and for originality of the Car Number Plate The Car Number, which is the common Vehicle Identification Number for the MGA, should match the VIN number on the title. In fact it pretty much has to match in order to register that car, or you might at some later date be accused of Grand Theft Auto. Some titles may use the engine number for the VIN, but that can get you in trouble if there is an engine change later. This alone should not keep you from buying the car. If the VIN on the title matches the engine number you can generally process a legal title transfer, but you should seriously consider having the title corrected to match the original Car Number. The important legal question is whether the title is legitimate, and you can even "correct" the physical numbers on the car if necessary, as long as you legally own it. The VIN number on the title should match at least the last 5 (or 6) digits on the large ID plate that is screwed to the heater shelf. After that you can get away with swapping out almost anything else on the car, and the state licensing agency could care less (except maybe California). The complete Car Number does not appear anywhere else on the car, but the last 5 or 6 digits are the chassis number, which may be stamped on the frame (see below).
The Car No. plate was originally attached with four #4-40 slotted round head screws, helical spring lockwashers and hex nuts. The front two screws go through the overhanging front edge of the heater shelf, accessible in the engine bay. The rear two screws have the nuts under the heater shelf in the passenger compartment. Bottom edge of the plate should be facing centerline of the car so you read it while standing on the right side of the car (passenger side for Left Hand Drive). The smaller patent number plate close by is fastened with two screws and oriented in similar manner.
There are a few concerns, primarily that the car you're buying should have a correct and legal title. To that end you should consider if the stated Car Number is at least in the right range for the stated model year on the title. In that era the cars were commonly titled in the year they were sold, so a car built in 1957 might have a 1958 title, but not the other way around. A friend here recently bought a legitimate 1963 MGA, even though the last MGA was manufactured in June 1962. This car was about 50 units from the end of production, and it just happened to sit on a dealer's lot for some months before it was sold and first titled. If the number on the VIN plate in the car matches the number on the title, and that number appears to be in the ballpark for the production period, and the title appears to be otherwise legitimate, you're cool. For more accurate dating and numbering see CF-125.