Fortunately the licensing body, DVLA, has a specific procedure that is intended to restore numbers that have been 'lost' to historical vehicles. This uses a procedure described by the name of the application form it uses - the V765. This requires you to present evidence that your car did bear that particular number - DVLA is usually looking for old tax or registration documents, and a certificate from a recognised owners club to back it up. Other documents I would need were an MOT certificate (roadworthiess test) and insurance certificate.
So I wanted to recover the car's original registration number if it was still available, 70 DNR. But this was to be neither obvious nor easy....
Kaj gave me a website address for the fishery of Oliver, who had emigrated with the car from England, and I emailed him. I was delighted when Oliver then simply picked the phone up and called me. He gave me a rich download of his history with the car, and very kindly undertook to send me any documents he could find. A big envelope of personal photographs showed up a week later, one of them above, together with a letter for DVLA certifying the identity of the car.
The MOT was always going to be necessary, and I only had to fit headlights that pointed the right way on dip, reinstate the wipers and washers and swap the Dunlop racing tyres for the wheels with old road-legal tyres. And I had an insurance policy although the insurer had reasonably stepped cover back to 'laid up' after the first month of the car sitting in the garage.
Assembling all of this, I set off to the DVLA office in Edinburgh. Like all the DVLA's regional office, this one is due to close in October and I cant believe that life is going to better for any of us after then. The first lady I met shuffled my paper and told me that they had to be sent to Cardiff. She said that although I did not have any old log books or tax discs, I had assembled good evidence and the only problem she could see was with my insurance certificate as the car was required to have full cover..
I then called the insurance broker and went round the loops that said 'cant issue new certificate until you have a registration number' while I explained that I 'cannot get a registration number until I have a valid certificate of insurance'. After making that journey a couple of times the helpful guy at the broker did not so much relent as say 'look, I'll email you a certificate but please dont use the car until you get a number and advise us of it'. Which seemed like a pragmatic solution for which I was grateful.
Returning, I completed my interview with another guy at the desk. He was a bit humphy about my not having any original documents, gave me a lecture on lowering my expectations (he succeeded) and told me he would be sure to include a note for the guys in Cardiff to tell them what he thought. But off it all went in their internal mail. There were three and half weeks until the Bo'ness Hillclimb Revival and I could still plan my triumphal entry.....
Two days before Bo'ness I surrendered myself to the idea that nothing was going to turn up - and went off to find Norman, my go-to-guy for trailer transport. But I returned from the first day of competition on the Saturday to find a letter waiting for me from DVLA.
A rush of love poured out of that envelope, along with a letter from a 'Central Caseworker'. My new friend wrote that she was returning my great bulk of evidence, telling me that I would not have to follow the V765 procedure after all. She had found an earlier record of registration for the car and I had only to complete a simple, one-sided form and include a cheque for £25. My new registration documents would then be issued. In other words, the registration details had sat in abeyance without ever being lost. DVLA proposed simply to issue new documents.
That form was posted today, and I wonder what the next go-around will look like.....