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A barn-find is a great way to find a vehicle that has been discontinued. It could also be something you have found in the attic or basement of an older relative. A valuable barn-find vehicle can be really exciting but may be difficult to title. If you are looking to apply for the title to your barn-find yourself, here are some tips to help get you started.
A barn-find is a vehicle that has been sitting in a barn or storage for some period of time. Many times these vehicles are not running and usually are not in good condition. The best way to get a title for a barn-find vehicle is to locate the prior owner and have them sign over the title. However, if the vehicle has been in a barn or storage for decades, assuming you can locate the prior owner and the title may be a stretch.
If you are able to find the prior owner, ask them if they are willing to obtain a duplicate title. If they are, follow the duplicate title process for your state. Often this involves having the owner sign an application, which can often be found online on each state’s DMV website. Due to the age of the vehicle, some states may also require an odometer reading and a VIN inspection from a certified mechanic or someone from law enforcement who is authorized to perform such inspections.
It may be tough to get a duplicate, even if the prior owner is still living and has the old title. If the vehicle is abandoned for decades, it’s possible that the title has been erased. Oftentimes DMVs will purge their systems after 10-15 years of inactivity. The title could be lost after being left in a barn for decades. If you can’t track down any paperwork, try submitting a motor vehicle record request to your local DMV to see if they can retrieve the records. They may ask you to fill out some forms and submit an affidavit describing how the vehicle came into your possession.
In certain cases, you may be able to obtain a title for your barn-find vehicle through the court system. To file for a court-ordered title, you must visit the county court in the county where you reside and file a case against the vehicle to ask the judge to grant you ownership of the vehicle. Once ownership is granted, you can take the court order to the DMV in exchange for a title.
A court-ordered title process isn’t an easy process, but it’s a very effective process. If you choose to pursue a court-ordered title, make sure to be aware of the laws in your county. Every county has a different procedure for a court-ordered title. For more information, check out our article The Court Ordered Title Process Explained.
If you want to keep a barn-find vehicle and get a title for it in your name, do not say it’s an abandoned vehicle. In many cases, the designation of an abandoned vehicle will result in the towing and disposal of the vehicle. Most of the time you will not get to keep and title a vehicle that is considered abandoned.
However, this is possibly not the case in the state of Alaska. If you have a barn-find vehicle on private property, Alaska is one of the few states that allows some abandoned vehicles to be titled. For more information, check out our article How To Title An Abandoned Vehicle In Alaska.
You don’t have to struggle with getting a title for your barn-find vehicle. Be prepared with the steps that you will take and how to prepare your vehicle. Do your research and ensure that you’re having it correctly inspected, depending on the state you live in. If you try to be diligent with these things, then you should be well on your way to getting a title for that valuable classic car.
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