Geoff- You dont have to imagine the worst when dealing with the CA DMV. Back in the 50s-and into the early 60s, at least, CA was still using the motor number as the VIN, as did Cadillac in the early days (40s). One time I bought a 55 Olds on which the title had been modified by the DMV to reflect the motor number of the replacement engine. It took some time and argument to get them to recognize the chassis number as the correct VIN; Also, I once bought an engine-less 47 Cad, and cleaned the frame rail on the drivers side, but couldnt find a VIN. Hauled it to the CHP office where they pop-riveted a new VIN for me. Of course, later when I cleaned the pass-side rail, there was the darned original VIN. Stupid, but thats how I learn a lot of things.