Last Updated on October 7, 2022 by Bernard Juchli
Howdy, SaneDriver? You have a classic car with no title, perhaps you plan to buy one soon. Not to worry, this article discloses how to get a title for a classic car.
Without a title, your classic or vintage car is mere junk. Don’t think of getting it on the road except you want to lose the car and risk hefty fines.
But if you are willing to make that classic vehicle without a title legal, there are options your state provides that let you get a title for it. Most states allow a bonded title, but in some states, you need a court-ordered title to claim ownership of the classic car.
You Need a Bonded Title
To possess a classic car with no title, you have to get a bonded title to lawfully own the car. You may not be the registered owner at the moment, but in the eyes of the law, the vintage vehicle belongs to you until another person claims it against you.
The process of getting a title for an old classic car is similar in most states, but you can always refer to your DMV. This guide merely discloses the essential things you must know.
Before you apply for a bonded title:
- Finding the owner. Try to find the original owner of the car. Suppose the classic car is a barn find, there could be an owner lurking around, and you want to be sure there’s no owner, or you know the owner but they are deceased.
- Buying the bond. When you establish that you can’t access the owner, then you purchase a bond on the car.
- Completing your paperwork. The final step is to complete the title application after buying the bond. The procedure is similar in most states, and the titling agency will hand you a title for the classic car.
The state gives you the bond to have what to give the original owner of the car in case they appear to claim on it while the bond is active.
By issuing you a title, the state is basically giving you another person’s car, and the bond you buy is given to the claimant as compensation if they successfully claim ownership of the car. When the owner claims the car successfully, the original owner is given a check and you keep the car.
How to Get a Title for a Classic Car Without Title
To receive a title for a classic car without a title requires a few steps. Before are the steps to get a title for a classic car without a title:
Check Whether You Are Eligible
First, the classic car must be in your possession. It must not be in a non-repairable or junk condition.
Since the classic car was not operational, your state understands it and may request a non-operational application proof like in California. Despite not being an operational car, the body, frame, and motor must be active.
In Texas, if the classic car is not an out-of-state vehicle, you can apply for a title with the following:
- Bonded title application form
- Bill of sale, sales invoice, canceled check, or any evidence of ownership (if you purchased the car from a dealer or private seller)
- A valid photo ID
Verify the Classic Car Identity
- VIN search. The DMV of your state will conduct a VIN check to determine whether the classic car was stolen or not. The inspection is done by the law enforcement agency. In some states, the DMV may be responsible for the check. After the car passes the theft inspection, you will be certified. Prior to the inspection, you can run a check on the VIN to ensure the classic car is not stolen.
- Lien proof. The car will be checked for a lien. If there’s a lien on the car, the lien holder must remove it. You can be able to pay off the debt to secure a lien release.
The DMV may appraise the classic car without a title to determine its market value. Some states will not accept appraisals less than $4,000, for instance, Texas.
Complete the Safety Inspection
A safety inspection or smog check may be required to determine where the classic car is road-worthy.
The inspection test will also determine the kind of car title issued on the car. For example, if the car was wrecked and you rebuilt it, you’ll get a rebuilt title. Note that the model of the car also determines the smog check. Since your classic car may be older, it will not require a smog check. Check with your state laws.
Complete an Affidavit
You may have to complete the affidavit to complete the ownership transfer of the classic vehicle that has no title. The affidavit will explain why you are titling the old car and why it does not already have a title.
The court may also ask about where you found the car, what you did to find the original owner, and many more.
Buy Surety Bond
When your application is approved, you will receive a Notice of Determination for a Bonded Title or Tax Assessor-Collector Hearing, which mentions the amount of the bond you must buy to register the classic car in your name.
After buying the surety bond, you have 30 days to take the original copy of the Notice of Determination for a Bonded Title or Tax Assessor-Collector Hearing probably given to you by the Regional Service Center and other documents to your county tax office.
Submit Your Paperwork
When your bond approval is ready, prepare the following documents:
- A completed title application. If the registration card you submit shows a lien holder on the car, you need a lien release form. It will be notarized, but not necessarily notarized in all states.
- Vehicle verification. You need the vehicle verification form which is completed by an authorized DMV employee or any authorized person after your classic car is successfully verified for theft.
- Statement of fact. You may be required to submit the statement of fact, which must contain, when, and from whom you purchased the car. It must also explain your efforts to reach the original owner (if none) and where you found the car.
- Vehicle appraisal. This form confirms that your classic car has been valued accordingly.
- Non-operational certificate. You also need a Certificate of Non-Operation/Planned Non-Operation Certification to show that the car was not operated (if any) during the period in which it was not registered.
- Odometer disclosure. Make sure to complete the odometer disclosure.
Pay the Fees
You must pay the fees for your title to be processed and issued on the car in your name. Make sure not to operate the classic car without paying your fees before operating the vehicle.
The fee you will pay for the registration is determined at the time of registration by how DMV.