A question for NY members

It is unfortunate that my first posting is something of a tale of woe, and I would appreciate any advice from New York members, or anyone else who has travelled this path.... I have purchased two of the hearses from the C Louis Abelove collection in NY, knowing that one had a title and one did not. I performed my due diligence regarding importing a vehicle to NZ without a title [which can be done], however; I had not anticipated the difficulty of getting the car out of the US without a title.

The car has been off the road for decades, is partly disassembled and requires restoration. It has no title, no registration or any form of ownership papers. It has no licence plates. There is no known history and no way of contacting the family through the auction house. All I have is an invoice/receipt from the auction house. Is there any way of retrieving a title (if there ever was one) or ownership documentation in a case like this? The advice I have received so far from this end is not promising. I have emailed the DMV in NY but I am not hopeful of any response.

If I cannot establish ownership documents then I will have a cheap car for sale or I am willing to donate it to one of the funeral history museums - any suggestions?
 

Paul Steinberg

Administrator
Staff member
Super Site Supporter
There are a number of non-title states that will issue you a certificate of ownership if you have a bill of sale from the current owner of the vehicle, or an auction house. Usually, they will require a physical examination of the vehicle, and the vehicle must have the original factory-installed serial number plate on the vehicle along with the original factory-installed attachment hardware. The question will be if the vehicles are worth the expense of transportation to one of those states and finding someone that you can trust to execute the transfers. In some instances, the state may require a surety bond in the event that an original owner shows up claiming ownership of the vehicle. For all of these reasons, I believe that is why the auction company worded every vehicle is sold without documentation. They already knew getting titles for these vehicles would require a lot of work. Personally, I have to believe that there is paperwork somewhere in his estate because it is highly unusual that a car collector of his stature wouldn't have had some proof of ownership from the person that he acquired the vehicle from. It just wasn't worth the auctioneer's time and effort to find them, and then match them to each vehicle because they realized that the vehicles were not going to sell for very much more than a few thousand dollars, and in some instances, only a couple hundred dollars.
 

Peter Grave

PCS Member
Cograts on getting two of Louies vehicles. There are a couple of outfits that can handle it for you. One of my customers just got a title for a 05 Ford cop car. I will contact him for details and post the result.
 
Critical in NY is year of manufacture. From memory NY didn't issue Titles till mid 72 prior to that the vehicle Registration was the ownership document.

Sadly NY DMV employees who know this are long retired and the present collection of human appearing creatures behind the counters IF they show up due to COVID are only working till they can find a sucker to marry them and assume their debt load, so they don't want to know anything or do anything.

In the situation you describe I'd suggest loading the disassembled vehicle into a sea container, manifesting it as parts/ antique hearse and shipping it to NZ.
 
Thanks guys for your comments. From what I have learnt I believe NY is a no-title state for pre-1972, so this 41 Packard flower car has probably never had a title, does not require a title, and has not been registered for decades (no licence plates on the car). I have found a clause in US Customs requirements that seems to cover such vehicles for export: Vehicles issued a title or certificate that is not in force or are otherwise not registered on the US Customs website: https://www.cbp.gov/trade/basic-import-export/export-docs/motor-vehicle.

Peter, I look forward to hear more from you - it would be nice to have someone on the ground in the US that could sort this on my behalf. I have seen a number of firms online advertising these services, but I am suspicious. I would prefer a referral. And I do not need to register the car, I just need proof of ownership for export.

Walter, exporting the vehicle nominated as 'parts' may be a possibility, but that creates issues when I go to register it in NZ: a car built up from 'parts' would be considered a new car and have to comply with 2022 safety standards (ABS, airbags, etc) - and that just isn't going to happen!

I will keep digging - there has to be a way. It is not as though I am trying to cheat the system, but it seems that government departments have little regard for classic cars in any country.
 
Thanks guys for your comments. From what I have learnt I believe NY is a no-title state for pre-1972, so this 41 Packard flower car has probably never had a title, does not require a title, and has not been registered for decades (no licence plates on the car). I have found a clause in US Customs requirements that seems to cover such vehicles for export: Vehicles issued a title or certificate that is not in force or are otherwise not registered on the US Customs website: https://www.cbp.gov/trade/basic-import-export/export-docs/motor-vehicle.

Peter, I look forward to hear more from you - it would be nice to have someone on the ground in the US that could sort this on my behalf. I have seen a number of firms online advertising these services, but I am suspicious. I would prefer a referral. And I do not need to register the car, I just need proof of ownership for export.

Walter, exporting the vehicle nominated as 'parts' may be a possibility, but that creates issues when I go to register it in NZ: a car built up from 'parts' would be considered a new car and have to comply with 2022 safety standards (ABS, airbags, etc) - and that just isn't going to happen!

I will keep digging - there has to be a way. It is not as though I am trying to cheat the system, but it seems that government departments have little regard for classic cars in any country.
OK, first I can assure you the 41 Packard never had a Title in NY. I own a couple 50s vintage vehicles and both only have Registrations which convey & document ownership. My 72 Duster was delivered a month prior to NY becoming a Title State and never had a Title.

I understand your situation with regard to shipping the car as "parts". Would that same problem jump up if the car was shipped "in restoration process" or "partly disassembled"?
 
OK, first I can assure you the 41 Packard never had a Title in NY. I own a couple 50s vintage vehicles and both only have Registrations which convey & document ownership. My 72 Duster was delivered a month prior to NY becoming a Title State and never had a Title.

I understand your situation with regard to shipping the car as "parts". Would that same problem jump up if the car was shipped "in restoration process" or "partly disassembled"?
Hi Walter, interestingly the 41 Packard hearse I bought does have a title - but may have come from a different state (I have not seen it yet), but the 41 flower car does not. There is a 'Catch 22' situation - ironically, registering the car in NZ can be done with the Bill of Sale as proof of ownership - it is getting it out of the US as a 'car' that is a problem. Yet I can bring it out as parts with no proof of ownership required, but I can't register it once it is here. In short: if it is parts when it leaves the US, it can't be a car when it gets to NZ. if it is going to be a car in NZ it needs to be a car when it leaves the US. There is no distinction made for state of completeness or restoration in progress.

It seems my best option may be the Vermont loophole and use registration as proof of ownership. This in itself is ironic, because I have to show that registration in the US has been cancelled, so I need to register it so I can cancel it to prove I own it. I am about to discuss NZ options today with an entry certifier.

Such is the tangled web we weave!
 
Glenn I have long considered the base of my faith to be No politician ever wrote a law he didn't leave a loophole in for himself and his friends. That has served me well over the years.

Vermont I don't know about, but we have another State called Maine that is very vehicle owner friendly, especially when the vehicle won't be on Maine highways. The ladies in the sec of Ste office where plates grow on a tree are knowledgeable and helpful. One told me they send over 1500 renewals a year to Hawaii for trailers. They have no idea how the trailers got there or what towed them there. Maine registration on my trailers is less than half of what NY registration would cost. Maine also has a good online presence.
 

John ED Renstrom

PCS Member - Elected Director 2019-2022
Super Site Supporter
I did have to have a title for the 64. Took tracking down the original owner to get it. But my thoughts would be that the people that sold the car should be required to provide you with a bill of sale. How else can you prove it is your property?
 
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