Abandoned car in NY

So I have a chance to get ahold of a first generation Ford Bronco that is on a friends property. The problem is that it was parked there 12 years ago and nobody knows who owns it or any information it. If I was to take it from them is there anyway I would be able to put it in my name so I can restore it and use it?


I’m not sure how it works in New York,

In Washington it can be done, But it takes 7 years to get a clear title, during those 7 years the last known legal owner can claim it and get it back.

Best to ask your local vehicle licensing department.

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Call your state’s DMV and ask them.


Sure check with dmv but it needs to be declared abandoned property on your friend’s land. Now why not do it the quick way and have your friend have it towed and impounded, then buy it at city/county/whatever auction.

Ford abandoned for 12 years? In NY? Rust bucket, I bet. Have you looked at it closely? It could cost many thousands to make right.

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Depends on where in NY…some areas are worse then others for rust. But the first generation Bronco’s would rust out very easily anyways. I can’t imagine it’ll be worth spending the money fixing it up.

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Have you taken a close look at it? If not, spend some time looking at it first. If it was junk when it was parked, it is still junk, just a whole lot rustier.


Your friends do not have the rights to give it to you. It’s on their property and doesn’t belong to them legally. They would first have to get ownership themselves. The process is pretty clear, took less than a minute to google: https://dmv.ny.gov/registration/abandoned-vehicles

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Well thanks for the input, but I didn’t ask about advice on the condition of the Bronco. I know the condition and know what I am capable of doing and not doing with it. Posted a simple question about if there is a legal way take ownership of it. For the record it’s not a rust bucket and actually in decent shape.

This could be fun. Good luck! And please keep us informed.

That’s all we needed to know. This is an open forum, so you’ll get a wide variety of answers. We’ve dealt with many folks who skip the basics (like, is it worth fixing) and jump to the legal questions. Those are much better asked of the legal authorities, see @TwinTurbo 's post, above.

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I get it’s an open forum, but the condition and details of the Bronco have nothing to do with the question I asked. I figured maybe somebody on here has dealt with trying to buy an abandoned car in NY that’s why I asked here. If I wanted an opinion on the condition and/or fixing it up I would ask that. In this case I needed to know if it’s possible to take ownership of the car. I know if the town wants to remove it and auction it they can (one way to get it but then have to worry about the price being driven up at auction). Read about a few ways people legally got ownership and wanted to see if anybody here and possible ways of doing so.

Clear as mud after reading the NYS instructions. Clearly there has to be a simpler way of creating a new title for a reconstructed vehicle. I guess everything is hard in NY though.

50 years ago my BIL had a 1940 Ford in pretty good shape. Then about 1962 it disappeared and was gone. I asked him about it a couple years ago and said he thought he knew where it was. Clearly for 50 years the thing somehow has been able to get plates in Minnesota.

You ask a question here and you will get answers to your question plus answers, advice and warnings about all kinds of things you hadn’t asked about and some that you don’t care about or even want to hear about.

First, make a VIN search for the actual owner of the vehicle.
Next, send the owner an invoice for reasonable storage charges and include a demand to remove the vehicle if unpaid.
Depending on the situation, a lien may have to be filed.
After that, you may have to go to auction but with a lien attached it won’t go for much.

Yeah, it may be a PITA for Bronco but it makes more sense if it was a Bugatti that some senile guy left in a garage,.

I don’t see how the land owner can demand storage fees, there was likely no such agreement to begin with. If the owner can be found why not just ask them to give it up? Why all the shenanigans? They haven’t wanted it for more than a decade, unlikely they are going to suddenly want it. If they do, they’re entitled to remove it.


I agree that it is unlikely someone would want a non-collectible vehicle which was left abandoned for a year, let alone a decade. After just two years of sitting, it will often require significant expense to make a vehicle which was running fine prior to sitting roadworthy again. After 10 years? Expect it to need major repairs. And that’s if it was running fine when it was parked.

That being said, I was not aware that the state would provide you with the owner’s contact info. Here in Arizona, one would apply for either a bonded title (if purchasing the vehicle from someone other than the last registered owner), or an abandoned title (if the vehicle was abandoned on your land).

The way the OP’s situation would work here is that the friend would write up a bill of sale selling the vehicle to him, perhaps for a token amount, then the OP would apply for a bonded title, and the state would send a letter to the last registered owner–at the last registered address. Of course, if that person has moved, or passed away, then they aren’t going to respond within the necessary timeframe, and after a waiting period, you receive a conditional title and registration. At this point, you can legally drive the car. After a certain amount of time has passed, and no one has made any claim against the vehicle, you receive a regular title, and the bond is canceled.

Many years ago the DMVs made it impossible for an individual to take possession of an “abandon” vehicle, they want this action to be performed by licensed businesses to control fraud.

A person can charge rent/storage fees but unless it is a licensed business the DMV will not allow you to place a lien on the vehicle.

The first step would be to go through the vehicle to find owner information so the owner can be tracked down. Make a reasonable offer for the title/vehicle, not $100, not $500, this vehicle is worth more than most people believe. Perhaps the owner has pasted away, then you would need to negotiate with the heirs.

People in California are asking $25,000 for very restorable first generation Broncos, up to $75,000 for restored/customized Broncos. A Bronco in New York may not have the same appeal as a California vehicle but we don’t know the condition of this vehicle.

He’s not the legal owner of record so he can’t legally sell the vehicle. The landowner has to either contact the vehicle owner or follow local laws to establish ownership of abandoned property.

If you and others employ some self control you wouldn’t post a reply that lacks focus on the subject.