View Full Version : Obtaining Ownership of an Abandoned 53 Starliner in PA

07-09-2014, 03:57 PM
Greetings from Pennsylvania.

I have an abandoned 53 Starliner on property I bought a few years ago. It has been sitting for decades and is pretty much shot but I still want to get a title on it so I can bring it back to life.

According to the PA state website:

"The landowner may file suit in Common Pleas Court requesting that an order be entered that (1) awards ownership
of the subject vehicle to the landowner and, (2) extinguishes the right, title and interest of any other person to said
vehicle. Pursuant to Sections 1114(a) and 1116(b) of the Vehicle Code, PennDOT would be able to accept
such a court order as evidence of ownership in lieu of a certificate of title. In order for the applicant to obtain a
certificate of title, a certified copy of the court order must accompany a completed MV-1 form, along with taxes,
fees, and evidence satisfactory to PennDOT that reasonable notice of the court proceeding had been
provided to the vehicle owner, and any other interested party, including anyone whose lien is endorsed upon the
certificate of title for the vehicle according to the records of PennDOT."

Has anyone here been through this process? I have never filed suit in common pleas court and would prefer to avoid a lawyer if the process is not too complicated.

The car seems to have a few cool features on it so I ordered a production sheet for it today to get a clearer picture of what is sitting there.

Have a great day.


07-09-2014, 07:04 PM
all states vary, and i haven't gone thru a similar process - but - you may be able to get some good info from your local county clerk of court in the civil division. if you find a helpful asst. clerk, you may be guided thru the process. it's still going have a "cost of court" fee when it goes thru the "system".

it may be easier to talk to a "DMV" atty. if the cost isn't much, they usually can get things to go smoothly.;)

also, you'll probably need to get the serial (vin) number off the '53 and the engine number, if possible. that's just to make sure it hasn't been stolen in the past.

good luck!!!:)

07-09-2014, 07:34 PM
Hopefully it's just a lot of legal mumble jumble and the process itself is easy. A '53 Starliner is an excellent car to find on your property for sure. I'm not too far from you, just over the border of rt 78. Welcome to the forum and post some pics if you get a chance.


07-09-2014, 08:41 PM
1st pay a visit to your local DMV seeking their guidance. DO NOT SHOW UP THE END OF THE MONTH OR FIRST FEW DAYS OF A NEW MONTH. DO NOT SHOW UP OVER/AROUND THE NOON HOUR. These are the busy times when none of the clerks have time for more than a candy bar for lunch.

They are real people and should be able and willing to give you some sound guidance. I'm sure they have forms and a check list to deal with abandoned or bill of sale vehicles. In Colorado it starts with a form, a Highway Patrol vin check and search for stolen, attempted notifications to last recorded owner etc. Although PA has their own set of rules and procedures, you are not the first or only one with this issue.

The process and rules are likely much clearer than the law itself.

07-09-2014, 09:35 PM
Thanks for the input gentlemen.

Kerry: The DMV pointed me to the state website. I think the clerk idea is the way to go and I'll head there next week. The car was probably abandoned in the late 50s. It comes complete with bullet holes. Any state or local records are probably long gone. I have the VIN and hope to have the engine number once the production sheet arrives.

Rich: I work in NJ and probably head by your place a few times a week. I'm on 78, 22, 31, 579, and 12 almost daily. I put pics in my profile. I may have to adjust the settings if you can't see them.

MMagic: DMV was very helpful but they pointed me to the website/court as the next step. Thankfully I don't have a lot of court experience. I'm hoping the clerk is in a good mood. :)

I think it may be as easy as proving I own the land, proving the car has been there longer than 48 hours, waiting for a set time to the court and police can do a few checks, and paying court fees. I checked the trunk but did not find Hoffa.

I think this car was extra special when it rolled off the line. The hood ornament and different style front bumper don't appear in many pictures I have seen. It also had backup lights, etc.

Thanks again. I'll check the permissions on the album now.


07-09-2014, 11:18 PM
Used these guys for some motorcycle stuff.

At least I think it was these guys, been a while.


07-10-2014, 04:36 PM
The other way is to claim that you own the vehicle and lost the paperwork. You fill out a bunch of forms and get replacement paperwork. That works well here in California, but only if the car is no longer in the system.

07-11-2014, 12:17 AM
The other way is to claim that you own the vehicle and lost the paperwork. You fill out a bunch of forms and get replacement paperwork. That works well here in California, but only if the car is no longer in the system.

Along with the vin verified and a statement of fact.

Don Jeffers
07-11-2014, 12:30 AM
This could take a lot of time and involve many steps. Don't get discouraged, just do as they ask. You'll eventually get there and have a clear title to the 53 Starliner.


07-11-2014, 01:52 AM
Don't be surprised if the next clerk you talk to tells you to do it a different way than the first clerk did. Try to get the same one every time.

07-11-2014, 02:46 AM
I did the same thing many years ago with my 1954 Packard. The car was abandoned in a chicken farm in New Jersey. The owner of the farm sold it to me with just a Bill of Sale. At the time, I was going to use it for parts. But later I decided to register it because it too nice to part out. The local NY State motor vehicle office was real helpful, they told me what to do. It took a long time though, I think for a title search. Good luck, a Starliner was my first car.


07-12-2014, 09:51 AM
Thanks for the tip-- that's an invaluable resource.

Used these guys for some motorcycle stuff.

At least I think it was these guys, been a while.


07-12-2014, 10:25 AM
Check to see if your state accepts titles from places like Broadway. Some,like MN,do not.

Thanks for the tip-- that's an invaluable resource.

07-12-2014, 07:31 PM
As stated, all states are different. I'm in PA and spend a lot of my drinking time with the owner of a towing company, and they end up with a lot of abandoned or unpaid vehicles, therefore they know the ins and outs of the PA system. If you know a towing company, you might save some hassles by seeking their advice prior to jumping through all the hoops.
Just a thought.

07-12-2014, 08:17 PM
Checked out the pictures. I recognize the car from the registry site. Sad to see a car sitting like that but great to know you have plans for it. Just be sure to inspect that frame real good you know how bad our weather is out here. BTW I live off 579 and work on 31.

07-12-2014, 08:42 PM
What Brad said in Post #14. Even better, if you know the owner of a towing company, it may be possible to slip them a tip and let them use their inside contacts and such to get a title in their name, and then sell it to you. ;) BP