Lotus Elan

California licence plate R147790

PostPost by: John Larkin » Fri Dec 08, 2017 4:18 pm

A friend and I are restoring a fire-damaged Elan S3 SE coupe, VIN 36/7564, that was exported to the UK from California in 1999. Its California licence number was R147790.

Is there any way that I can obtain the name and address of the last registered owner in California? We are trying to build a history of the car in the USA.

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PostPost by: trw99 » Fri Dec 08, 2017 5:38 pm

Others better qualified than me will be able to help, though I believe from what I've read on here before you may be asking too much of the licensing system in the US.

As a matter of interest, is your car a SS? Or does it at least have some SS features? Its in the age-related range for them.

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PostPost by: lotusS2guy » Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:59 pm

Did you get a CA license plate with that car? The reason I ask is that it does not look like a good number.

CA license plates were 6 characters when I got my Elan in the mid sixties - 3 letters followed by 3 numbers. When that system ran out of available letters/numbers, it changed to the system used today - 7 characters consisting of one number followed by three letters followed by three numbers.

It is possible to pay extra and get a custom plate (mine is ELAN S2) but I can't imagine that the plate you reference is custom.
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PostPost by: John Larkin » Fri Dec 08, 2017 7:08 pm

Hi Tim, the car is an SS.

Herb, I do not have the US licence plates, but I have a bad copy of a Santa Clara DMV document that seems to say that R147790 was the vehicle licence, so I assumed that it was a California plate. It may have been registered in Illinois at some stage.

I'm still trawling the web for info.
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PostPost by: Lotus14S2 » Sat Dec 09, 2017 2:09 am

You might check, but your plate may be bogus, or the owner wanted to keep the plates, and sent the car with something he picked up somewhere.
A plate with the number and letter combination you state would be a commercial plate, which would be for a truck.
Current California auto plates have a numeral, three letters and three numbers. such as 1XXX123. Current plates would be white, and older plates with the seven character sets would be blue.
Older plates, which would be blue, black or yellow would have three letters and three numbers.
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PostPost by: Fred Talmadge » Fri Dec 15, 2017 5:29 pm

To answer your initial question the California Department of Motor Vehicles does not share registration numbers, names and addresses unless you have a legitimate law enforcement reason. I maybe wrong so check their website https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv for a contact you can ask.
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PostPost by: seniorchristo » Fri Dec 15, 2017 7:18 pm

My 1967 S3 SE is Super Safety #457594
This is the California plate that came with the car. It is now registered in PA. :)
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PostPost by: Lotus14S2 » Fri Dec 15, 2017 10:38 pm

OK, I looked up the California license plate history, and the only plate that might have the number you have is a 1963 black truck plate which started with a letter, and then had five numerals (A11111).
The next change occurred in the mid '60s, where the letter was at the end (11111A).

There are no car or auto plates in California with a letter and six digits.

I have lived in California all my life, and owned cars back to the '50s, and owned my first Lotus in 1960. The car had a Yellow plate with black lettering, and three letters, and three numerals (AAA000). This style started in 1956, and ended in 1962. The next plate was black with yellow lettering also with three letters and three numerals (ZZZ999).
After that the plates went to blue and yellow, and the lettering went to three numerals and three letters (000AAA). This lasted until they ran out of that combination; at that point they added a leading numeral and again reversed the combination to three letters and three numerals, which is what still exists today (1AAA000).
California is very sticky about license plates, and do not issue registration with out of state plates.
As I said, in my first reply, I think the license is bogus, or is an out of state number with a phony California registration. I know there is a downloadable pink slip template, so I would guess its possible to create one.
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PostPost by: John Larkin » Sat Dec 16, 2017 10:44 am

Dear Lotus 14S2,

Thank you for your informative reply. I cannot be certain that the R147790 registration was issued in California; it is referenced on the copy of the Santa Clara DMV document that came with the car. It may be a licence plate from a different state, but it seems unusual that a California agency would use an out-of-state licence on a change of ownership document for the purpose of export to the UK. This is becoming curiouser and "interestinger".

I have identified the guy who imported the car to the UK and I have written to him asking if he remembers the name and contact details of the person from whom he purchased the car.

If I obtain any useful information I'll post it here.

John Larkin.
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