Carla Bender wrote:
>>"I am looking at a 61 MGA--I am told it is a 1600. I have the VIN number and was wondering if there is a place I can check out any info by using the number?"<<
You could try checking with NAMGAR. I have no idea what success you might have there. Their original reason for existence is (or was) to register as many MGA as possible and to maintain a data base on the cars and the owners. I had been a member of NAMGAR for many years, and in all that time the only thing I ever heard about the data was an occasional statistical report noting how many were produced in each color, how many were repainted, how many were currently red. One time (about 2000) they published some data relating engine numbers to car numbers, and thought this should be predictable within a range of about 200 numbers. I have never seen anything else about this data base published, and I have never known anyone to be able to get any answer at all (or even any response) to your question. They don't seem to be very responsive to members, let alone non-members. If anyone should have different results here, please let me know.
For a nominal fee and a moderate wait you can obtain a Certificate of Origin for the car from British Motor Industry Heritage Trust. This would list the specifics of the configuration of the car as it left the factory, including numbers for Car Number, Body Number, Engine Number, Gearbox Number, possibly the rear axle or differential number, gearbox type, final drive ratio, paint color, any special options, and the original delivery point. This is a nifty bit of history for a car buff, and it might be of some help if you have any problem convincing the DMV that your numbers and title are legitimate, or if for some reason you might be wanting the DMV to correct some erroneous information on the title, like reinstating the complete VIN number or changing the model year. It is not unusual for a current legitimate title to have only the last 5 or 6 digits of the Car Number. Even for the earlier cars, the DMV would sometimes drop the rest of the characters and retain only the serial numbers and this could happen any time the title changed ownership and was re-registered.
For the most part, very little of this has any bearing on the current condition or value of the car, unless you happen to be one of the very small minority of Concours enthusiasts. After more than 40 years of life in the real world, many of these cars have had engine transplants or cylinder head changes, some have had the body changed, and some even have a different frame by now. And all of this is not much to be concerned about, as the interested public generally considers these cars to be daily drivers, as originally intended, and not show cars.
>>" .... is there anything specific I should be asking?"<<
Yes. Very specifically, does it have a clear title? And does the Car Number on the large tag on the heater shelf in the engine bay match the VIN number on the title? If so there should be no problems with the legality of ownership. Beyond that, almost any configuration of parts is generally acceptable, as long as it visually resembles the original configuration. If it looks like an MGA, it is an MGA. Non-MG engine transplants are generally frowned upon. A smaller displacement MG engine than the original issue can detract a little from the value. Odd paint colors are a matter taste, but can limit the resale market, so may detract from the value. The single most critical question about the car is not a number at all, but what is the condition of the body sills? Please read Opening Your First Rust Bucket. Don't be frightened by the page title, but do take the content seriously.