I recently got married, and my new father in law gifted us a classic vehicle that needs a bit of repair to be operational. The vehicle is currently titled in California as a non-operational vehicle, but I live in Texas, specifically a county where registration depends on a safety and emissions check. From what I can see a Texas title depends on the ability to register the vehicle, which cannot pass the county tests (due to non-operational status) to be registered. I also cannot find where Texas may issue a similar non-operational title. As a Texas resident, can I just simply transfer to a CA title with me as the owner, or must I title it in Texas if I intend to keep it here while repairing it? Is there a way to register and title in Texas without the car actually working?

Car is a 1967 Ford Bronco if that’s relevant.

  • 2
    The question is about transferring of ownership, of which registering is only a part. The current owner is a CA resident. I'm in TX. As I'm reading the laws of TX, if I take ownership I must register it immediately, which I can't unless it's working. I can't imagine that this is the first instance of a car not working being acquired by someone as a hobby car to work on. All I'm asking is how to go about the paperwork to make this happen. The legalese behind this is confusing at best so I'm trying to reach out to people who've done this before and can offer advice.
    – J Brown
    Commented Oct 25, 2019 at 19:50
  • 2
    Becoming operational is based on my working on it for months or years. I need to transfer ownership now.
    – J Brown
    Commented Oct 25, 2019 at 20:10
  • 2
    So can I get a TX title without having to register? That's the main confusion I'm having. Everything I've seen wants me to do both at once.
    – J Brown
    Commented Oct 25, 2019 at 20:15
  • 2
    It means something for transference of ownership, which is the main crux of the question.
    – J Brown
    Commented Oct 25, 2019 at 20:20
  • 2
    Ok seriously? There's a title on this car. In California. For a person not myself. Therefore California says this car belongs to someone else. Regardless of whether I give them money, that title means it's not mine until they sign it over. At which point I need a CA title or TX title. That's the question. Which one is legal for me to pursue and how do I go about it.
    – J Brown
    Commented Oct 25, 2019 at 20:25

1 Answer 1


They have told you that you can not register the vehicle until it is operational. You ,yourself, acknowledge that you must be able to pass inspection in your question

but I live in Texas, specifically a county where registration depends on a safety and emissions check.

You work on the car and get it to the point where it passes their inspection. After you do that, you register the vehicle in Texas. If it takes you years to finish the car, you register it in years.

A title on a nonworking vehicle would do nothing, because the car can't drive down the road. A police officer can't stop a non-operational vehicle and demand to see it's registration.

Texas law states you must have a vehicle that will pass the inspection to get the title in your case:

Transportation Code Section 501.030 (a) Before a motor vehicle that was last registered or titled in another state or country may be titled in this state, the county assessor-collector shall verify that the vehicle has passed the inspections required by Chapter 548, as indicated in the Department of Public Safety's inspection database under Section 548.251, or that the owner has obtained an identification number inspection in accordance with department rule.

Not having a Texas title does not mean you do not own it. It means it is not considered a motor vehicle by the state. You still own it as you would own any other piece of metal you own. If you bought the car or it was given to you, you own it with or without a Texas title.

With or without the title someone wanting to take it would have to go to court and you could tell the court you own it and provide whatever proof you have either way, which is how it is intended to be done.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .