FYI (This was posted on Craigs List here in Portland...)
"I recently had a chance to buy a scooter in California that didn't have a title. Then there was a Vespa for sale here in Portland this week that didn't have a title. The owner claimed that getting a title was "very easy. He had a friend that told him, "All you have to do is go down to DMV and they "look it up" and in a few weeks you get a title."
I see on eBay that many sellers tell you, "it comes with a Bill of Sale." In most states a Bill of Sale is required ONLY to prove how much you paid for the vehicle so they can charge YOU the right amount of tax. It has little , if anything, to do with passing legal ownership from one individual to another.
Fortunately I was smart enough to call the DMV first (it's actually not that difficult to get them on the phone). I was told that in the case of California, the purge their databases every 4 years if a vehicle goes unlicensed. So if you buy a VEHICLE OF ANY KIND in California without a title that hasn't been licensed in at least 4 years, the chances are excellent that you will never be able to get a title and, as a result, a license plate and tags to be able to legally drive it in Oregon. The lady at the DMV was very nice. She told me, "every state is different."
When it comes to any issues about titles, licensing requirements, required documentation, check with our DMV FIRST. What a seller might tell you is going to be in his best interests, not yours. How can some guy selling his 25 year old Honda that he got from his brother-in-law in South Dakota (without a title) have the knowledge necessary to satisfy DMV. And if he tells you, "I called them and this is what they said," I'd be particularly suspicious because that tells me he's not sure either.
I was told that without a properly signed off title from the seller, you are likely never going to be able to legally drive the thing on the streets in Oregon. And especially beware of these foreign imports (you know, the scooters they are rebuilding in Viet Nam and Indonesia. In addition to having absolutely terrible reputations as mechanical nightmares, getting them titled can be impossible.
Even if you eventually find a lost title to that 1962 Vespa, how are you going to find the guy that last owned it LEGALLY so he can sign off on it? It might have been sold 20 times in the last 45 years and half the people that have owned it are dead or have moved on.
I told a guy in an E-mail that was selling this Vespa in Portland without any documentation about this. He said, "I had a neighbor go down to the DMV and they sent him a title in 2 weeks."
CHECK WITH THE DMV BEFORE BUYING ANY VEHICLE WITHOUT A ORIGINAL, SIGNED OFF TITLE. Better yet, get the seller to go down with you to the DMV and show you how easy it is. Better be safe than sorry. Boy, am I glad I didn't spend $3,000 on that Vespa in California. In addition to a big chunk of change to get it shipped here, there was no legal way I could get it licensed in Oregon.
Check DMV first. (Sorry this is so long....you can lose a lot of money this way).