1981 Suzuki GSX750

Q: I discovered your mag last year and a have been a reader ever since. I’m hoping, with all your years of accumulated experience, you may be able to help.

CMM has inspired me to look for a restoration project and I thought I’d found one when a friend offered me a 1981 Suzuki GSX 750 for what he paid for it 10 years previously (very reasonable). I went and had a look and things looked promising, it is an Italian import and someone has fitted a different headlight but other than that it is remarkably original.

This seemed ideal as all it would need was a lot of time and effort to make it look loved again but hopefully not too much expenditure.

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Unfortunately I then found out that my friend had bought it when it was already off the road (the tax expired 2002) and, although he got the registration document changed to his name, he has never taxed it or declared it SORN. He has told me that he’s never been sent a reminder and I know these are sent out as a courtesy and not receiving them is no excuse.

However, I was also under the impression, from what I have read on forums, that automated fines were sent out when vehicle license or SORN has lapsed. What I would like to know is: am I going to drop my friend in it with the DVLA when the registration document is changed? And, if so, what would the penalty be? Obviously my friend will not be too impressed with me if he gets 10 years’ worth of backdated fines and I did not want to call DVLA to ask the question as I thought it might want a reg number before answering.

I realise this query is probably outside the usual remit of your Workshop Q&A section but I thought perhaps somebody there may have come across a similar problem with one of their numerous projects. Here’s hoping I can give an old bike a new lease of life.

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A generic GSX750 shot.

A: This SORN business is a bit of a in a minefield. The first point is, a SORN declaration is only required for vehicles whose last tax disc ran out after January 31, 1998. You need to find out whether that is true for your bike, because if so you should have declared a SORN as it is not transferable to the new keeper (i.e. you), and therefore are committing an offence. I don’t think it is very likely that DVLA would sting you for 10 years of unpaid road tax, but it is possible that you might be in line for an £80 fine. If you search on the Internet for DVLA and ‘vehicle enquiry’ you will find a webpage where you can enter the bike’s details to get what information they have. If you feel brave enough to disturb the hornet’s nest by applying for SORN, then you can do it online or by sending in form V890. The official line is that ‘DVLA will treat each case on merit and will view genuine cases with sympathy,’ so you should have nothing to worry about, right? If they do play hard ball, call us and become a ’cause celebre’…

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