bigbrainonbrad
bigbrainonbrad Reader
1/20/21 12:39 p.m.

To make a long story reasonably short, I've been driving by a mechanic's shop for years with an 86 Capri 5.0 sitting out front. Finally decided to stop by and see what was up with it. The car is in reasonably decent physical condition (no visible rust, complete interior), has a 4 lug rear disk brake conversion, and Koni struts; somebody at some point cared about this car. The shop owner says the vehicle is owned by a guy down the street who runs a little motel. After talking with the vehicle "owner" he says he is not interested in selling it, but to leave my number; during the conversation he reveals that he doesn't have a title and that a buyer would have to apply for it.

After phoning a friend at the DMV, the "owner" is not the owner on paper. I cyber-stalked the actual owner and am making efforts to get in touch. If the actual owner is interested in talking, what should I do? The car hasn't moved in the better part of 10 years and the owner is out of state at this point. I am in Kentucky for what it is worth.
 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
1/20/21 12:53 p.m.

#1: Shop owner has possession of the car.

#2: Motel owner claims to be able to sell the car without title.  

#3: A whole different person is the registered owner with the state (title holder.)

 

 

I would hold direct talks with #3.  But, be careful that #1 doesn't hold a lien on the car for repairs or storage not paid.  I wouldn't deal with #2 at all.  He has no substantive authority.  

I would probably briefly speak with #1 assuring that he holds no lien.  Without saying it, I would imply that you are considering buying from #2.  My guess is that #1 doesn't know that #2 is not the owner.   No need to tip off #2 that you may go around him to make a deal with #3. 

 

I would start with doing some research of what #3 would need to do to get a title (while not being in KY.)  You may need to coach #3 on these details if #3 is not in possession of the actual paper title.    

Stay down the path of #3 but if that runs dry, there is likely a way for #1 to get a mechanic's lien title.  He would have to apply to the state that the car has been abandoned on his property.  This route may make #2 angry so tread lightly.  

I am in Ohio and I would not buy a car w/o a title.  You may want to reaserch more of what buying a car with no title means in KY.  

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
1/20/21 12:55 p.m.

My rule is don't do a thing until the title is in hand:

This sounds like a convoluted deal that is ripe to go off the rails. If the owner doesn't owe the motel guy money or there isn't some other entanglement then all you can do is wait for the owner to respond one way or the other.

Do not, I repeat, do not take possession of the car until you have a signed title.

My .02 

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 MegaDork
1/20/21 1:07 p.m.

There's gotta be a few '86 Capri 5.0's left.  My guess is that most of those won't be the PITA that this one could be.

bigbrainonbrad
bigbrainonbrad Reader
1/20/21 1:11 p.m.

Appreciate the quick replies. No intent of buying the car without a title, especially knowing that the actual title isn't in the person who claims to own the car's name. Based on the brief talk with the shop owner, the owner has just been storing it there; it is a small town, everybody knows everybody, the guy who claims to own it is legally named Turtle.

jimbob_racing
jimbob_racing SuperDork
1/20/21 1:29 p.m.

IMO, 1986 is the best of the fox body Capris. Definitely worth some effort.

I hope it works out for you. 

Jesse Ransom (FFS)
Jesse Ransom (FFS) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
1/20/21 1:36 p.m.

Small town, everybody knows everybody...

I really don't see this being fun unless you can make all three parties happy, and two of them think they own the car and presumably think they should get paid for it. The one with physical possession knows the local one with nominal ownership.

I'd say "good luck with that," but I'm going to be less flippant and just suggest that if you can't get the two "owners" to reach their own agreement first, you probably want nothing to do with it. Getting the paper ownership legally doesn't sound like even 51% of the battle.

Turning up to the shop with the title in your name, hopefully waltzing off before Turtle gets a heads-up... Then what?

bigbrainonbrad
bigbrainonbrad Reader
1/20/21 1:38 p.m.

I'm hoping things come together. Don't disagree with 1988RedT2 that there are lots of them out there, this just seems like a potentially excellent buy if things line up.

Don't necessarily want a Fox body, as the SN95 is the model that came out when I was at driving age, but the Capri is a little more unique than a Mustang.

Jesse Ransom (FFS)
Jesse Ransom (FFS) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
1/20/21 8:05 p.m.

In reply to bigbrainonbrad :

Oh, they're cool! The mini-box-flares make the Capri way cooler than a Mustang, and I like the convex rear window as well.

More to the point, I have a concrete example of what I figure the most likely thing is: I figure Turtle never went to the DMV after buying the car. I know folks do this, because my DMV just upgraded its systems and gave me better visibility into my DMV records. According to them, I own about four cars I sold years ago. If someone saw one of those sitting around and looked up the "owner" at the DMV, it'd be me. But I can't sell anyone those cars; I don't own them anymore.

I strongly suspect Turtle really is the owner; DMV records aren't definitive.

Extra rant: the online system won't let me file for "that's not mine anymore" without a bunch of details I don't have about the buyers.

EDIT: To note that DMVs are hardly standardized. It's possible that yours is more definitive than mine. But it's awfully easy to trade cash for a car and fail to do paperwork.

Vigo (Forum Supporter)
Vigo (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
1/21/21 12:35 a.m.

Interesting scenario. I buy lots of things without titles. Some of it i plan to get titles for later, some i dont. Regardless, I generally don't assess blame on the previous owner or ask many questions if the price reflects the title condition anyway.  Title laws are the reason anything has title problems, although you could look past the incredibly strong correlation with poverty and just say that people who don't transfer titles on cars that are barely worth the money they'll spend to do it are just people asking to have their money stolen from them anyway (but in car form, of course). Anywho, I'd be pretty irritated if someone saw one of my cars, didn't like that i didn't want to sell it, and then decided they should get the state government to essentially steal it from me (because even if the 'title holder' wants to sell it to you, that's the only physical way it could happen) because they didn't like my answer? 

Maybe im just Texan, but maybe I also think that my decision to buy something without a title is a far cry from being anyone else's justification to take it away from me without consent or compensation. In that sense, it is theft. You're just getting the state to do it for you because you can. 

So i'd also recommend either trying to get the two 'owners' to reconcile, or plan to doing what i had to do to get it titled after i paid the CURRENT owner (not the guy who has almost no incentive to make sure the next owner transferred the title, his intent was to sell and as far as he knows he does not own it). I definitely would not try to get the guy who essentially inherited his title back by default to get the state government involved in the current owner's life in any way shape or form.

yupididit
yupididit GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/21/21 2:46 a.m.

#1 and #2, the shop owner who is storing the car and the possessive owner both state that #2 is the owner. #2 doesn't want to sell it. Just because #3 is the last person to title the car in their name does not mean they own the car. Getting #3 to give you the title behind #2 back is obtaining a car under false pretenses. #3 sold the car to #2, just because #2 didn't put the car under his name doesn't mean he lost his right of possession.

Wait for #2 to sell you the car and have them get the title legally or find a different car legally. Any other way is shady as berkeley. 

03Panther
03Panther SuperDork
1/21/21 3:33 a.m.
John Welsh said:

#1: Shop owner has possession of the car.

#2: Motel owner claims to be able to sell the car without title.  

#3: A whole different person is the registered owner with the state (title holder.)

 

 

I would hold direct talks with #3.  But, be careful that #1 doesn't hold a lien on the car for repairs or storage not paid.  I wouldn't deal with #2 at all.  He has no substantive authority.  

I would probably briefly speak with #1 assuring that he holds no lien.  Without saying it, I would imply that you are considering buying from #2.  My guess is that #1 doesn't know that #2 is not the owner.   No need to tip off #2 that you may go around him to make a deal with #3. 

 

I would start with doing some research of what #3 would need to do to get a title (while not being in KY.)  You may need to coach #3 on these details if #3 is not in possession of the actual paper title.    

Stay down the path of #3 but if that runs dry, there is likely a way for #1 to get a mechanic's lien title.  He would have to apply to the state that the car has been abandoned on his property.  This route may make #2 angry so tread lightly.  

I am in Ohio and I would not buy a car w/o a title.  You may want to reaserch more of what buying a car with no title means in KY.  

I did exactly that in the mid 90's, on a ratted out 64 falcon sedan delivery. Except #1 was a private owner, not a shop, and had no lien. Last owner of record (had not owned it in 25 years) went around me and #2, got the car from #1 and went up on price! I did end up with the car, but that's another long story. Would be able to do things different now that i'm in backwoods alabam', but don't know about KY.

Other than the heads up of how #3 might act, the advice you lay out is absolutly the correct way.

03Panther
03Panther SuperDork
1/21/21 3:39 a.m.
yupididit said:

#1 and #2, the shop owner who is storing the car and the possesive owner both state they #2 is the owner. #2 doesn't want to sell it. Just because #3 is the last person to title the car in their name does not mean they own the car. Getting #3 to give you the title behind #2 back is obtaining a car under false pretenses. #3 sold the car to #2, just because #2 didn't put the car under his name doesn't mean he lost his right of possession.

Wait for #2 to sell you the car and have them get the title legally or find a different car legally. Any other way is shady as berkeley. 

Depends on if #2 and #3 know each other, and if a deal went sideways. I would not suggest giving #3 money and thinking you own it! But #2 doesn't want to sell it, but will sell it without a title already means either walk away, of find out more. 1,2 and 3 might all be willing to work together.

yupididit
yupididit GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/21/21 6:37 a.m.

In reply to 03Panther :

One the actual owner (#2) says he don't want to sell it then it all ends there. You can't go buy his car that he doesn't want to sell. #1 is storing it for him and #3 is a previous owner. The only person to work on is convincing #2 to sell his car. Once he agrees to selling it then y'all can figure the title thing. Until then, obtaining the car any other way is criminal. 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
1/21/21 6:51 a.m.

I had not considered that #2 may have bought the car and has a bill of sale. This would make circumventing #2 a shady maneuver that I don't recommend. 

I guess I'll hold with my previous advice to proceed with caution. 

But, making contact with #3 may get you a title then with this title available, the purchase from #2 could then be a title-able car. 

As others have said, see the title before transferring any money. 

bigbrainonbrad
bigbrainonbrad Reader
1/21/21 7:30 a.m.

I don't want to imply that I am trying to snake it out from under Turtle; if he is the legitimate owner, then it is what it is. I am simply trying to find out if he actually legitimately owns the thing. If the titled owner says as much then this is case closed. I would simply inform the titled owner that he is still on the books and to get in touch with the possessive owner to possibly prevent legal issues for him down the road.

It is also possible that Turtle came upon the car under less than legal means; he seemed like a straight shooter, but that doesn't mean anything. From all of my past interactions with buying/selling cars here in Kentucky, the owner and buyer sign the back of the title, have it notarized, and the buyer can walk into the DMV and get it in their name. Turtle didn't give the impression that he ever had a title; he implied he/a buyer would have to go the salvage title route. There is a process for titling a vehicle in Kentucky based on a bill of sale, from my reading it isn't a huge ordeal; needless to say the possessive owner has not done this.

If things work out in my favor awesome. If Turtle can get the title to this relatively cool car and get it back on the road, that is equally cool. It's slow at work, I have quite a few investigative tools at my disposal and it gives me something to do.

Appreciate the words of caution; I have been burned on purchases and sales in the past so this is making my Spidey-senses tingle.

frenchyd
frenchyd PowerDork
1/21/21 11:09 a.m.

In reply to bigbrainonbrad :

I agree with the take it slow approach and find who the proper owner is. But since I buy cars like that for the race track a tittle isn't very important. With a notarized bill of sale I will go ahead.  But to put back on the road and insure it is a different battle.  
With that in mind as much as you may want it make sure the price reflects not just its condition as a pile of parts, but the potential hassle of dealing with 3 different identities.    
  Don't worry about competition, few will buy a project and even less will want a project with potential  legal hassles. If your reduced price doesn't get it walk away but leave your number.  ( with all 3 ) 

Gearheadotaku (Forum Supporter)
Gearheadotaku (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
1/21/21 11:29 a.m.

Some states don't issue titles for cars older than x years. I hate that. Makes the buying and selling feel off because there is really no way to prove who owns what. Bill of sale can be handwritten on a napkin and be worth as much. A matching registration helps, but isn't a cure-all. 

Made the mistake of buying a truck in Georgia with no title, just a bill of sale. Truck was too old, state would not issue a title and the owner had never registered it. ( Was a parts truck to him)

So I try to register the truck in Michigan,  they won't do it. Ended up having to buy a special bond for $100 after having the police confirm the VIN wasn't reported stolen. This was a month long ordeal.....

wspohn
wspohn SuperDork
1/21/21 11:33 a.m.

Whoever has legal title to the car owns it. If the original owner sold it to #2, who failed to register it or lost the title, he nonetheless owns it, he just has to jump through some hoops to get registration from the local authority.

If all #2 has is physical possession but no bill of sale, he is out of luck and can't sell the car - nemo dat quod non habet which in legalese means you can't give what you don't have (i.e. good title).

The practical problem is that the guy with physical possession can be a pain in the butt as far as causing legal expense to the prospective buyer before he gives up possession of the car. Even if you got title from original owner, you'd still have to get the car.  #1, who I've been ignoring so far, may not care and if you show up with a title you bought from #3 he might just watch the car leave, but OTOH he might call up #2 and all manner of hassle could ensue before you'd get the car.

There are legalities and then there are practicalities and you have to consider both in planning how (or if) you can get the car.  I am aware of one similar situation where the party with possession refused to give up the car and when a court order was finally obtained forcing that, by the time the bailiffs (probably sheriffs where you are) showed up the car had been mysteriously trashed.

bigbrainonbrad
bigbrainonbrad Reader
1/21/21 12:09 p.m.

Without getting into the minutia of how, I got in touch with the title holder via email. According to him, he went on travel for work and when he got back was informed the vehicle was towed, but no one could tell him by whom or where to. He chocked it up as a loss and moved on. I passed along the basic information that I know and am waiting to hear back from him. I'm not counting on any opportunity of buying the car, but may have done a good deed. FYI, the way I am writing this sanitizes it of the details of how I know the person I emailed is the same person who is on the title.

Jesse Ransom (FFS)
Jesse Ransom (FFS) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
1/21/21 5:10 p.m.

In reply to bigbrainonbrad :

Cool; I'm not sure you're any closer to the car, but it'd be nice if it got un-yoinked from a rightful owner. I mean, at this point I have no idea what happened, but hopefully this only clarifies things for people.

jfryjfry (FS)
jfryjfry (FS) Dork
1/21/21 5:57 p.m.

Hmmmm.  Interesting... keep this updated

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