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Jan 13th 2018, 06:09 PM   #1
 
  Jan 2018
  Seattle

Honda 1977 CB550F Supersport: Advice on title/registration

Here is the situation:

My friends sister recently passed away and her partner left a the above mentioned Honda on the property, which is owned by my friend and is in Montana (where I'm originally from).

I am working at trying to get ahold of the owner to see if he would want to sell or release the vehicle over, but not having any luck. I'm trying to figure out what the nest steps would be.

Can I keep the vehicle legally or not?

1) If yes, how do I get it titled with no title, bill of sale or release of interest?

2) What precautions should I take?

3) And more importantly how to do it ethically and legally?

I have found conflicting information on the web, so I thought I would try using a forum since this would be the first motorcycle. Bike is pictured below. It's in great shape and just sitting in a garage now currently.

Any guidance would be most appreciated.
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Honda 1977 CB550F Supersport: Advice on title/registration-img_1406.jpg  
Jan 13th 2018, 06:33 PM   #2
 curve addict's Avatar
 
  Apr 2016
  Des Moines, WA

  ...1987 Yamaha FZR1000...
Ok, It has been a while so my memory may miss a point or two.

In Washington, with an untitled bike, you can apply for a provisionary(might be another word) registration. Pay your money, then the state police researches the VIN to see if it has been declared stolen or if there is a lein on the bike. In the meantime, you can get tags and insurance and ride the thing. You cannot sell it for a while. Assuming that no one with the valid title has shown up to claim the bike over the next three years. You can apply for a full title and then own or sell the bike as a titled vehicle.

The gamble: If someone shows up with the valid title in their name, within those three years, then you must turn that bike over to that person.

Ya takes your chances.
Jan 14th 2018, 02:31 AM   #3
 galenernest's Avatar
 
  Jan 2016
  Beijing

  Honda CBF190R
My little brother did this a few years ago with a bike he bought. He had zero paperwork on it other than a bill of sale. He took a trip to the WA DMV to get a couple of forms, sent certified mail containing a "release of interest/ownership form" to the last registered owner with return receipt requested. Meanwhile, we took it to the State Patrol for a VIN inspection. The certified mail was undeliverable, and so he was able to get what was phrased as an "affidavit in lieu of title." And, as Dave mentioned above, this was a three year "provisional" title.

But, laws do change. So, you can visit the local WA DOL or DMV and ask them what to do. I'm sure they'll tell you exactly what the procedure is.

Edited by galenernest on Jan 14th 2018 at 02:34 AM
Jan 14th 2018, 11:11 AM   #4
 DocB's Avatar
 
  Feb 2016
  Poulsbo, WA

  Aprilia RSV Mille, CB77 (AMA Nat'l landspeed record holder), CB750K, CB750F
Galenernest has it well summed up. First get the bike into your possession. Then go to a vehicle licensing office and get started with the process, including setting up a WSP VIN inspection appointment and getting the other paperwork necessary. I took my bike to the WSP in a truck, but the licensing office will sell you a trip permit if you want to ride it to the WSP office. I think it's $30. The returned, unopened registered letter that is sent to the POs last registered address and a clear VIN report are the two main things you need to go back to a licensing office and get the affidavit in lieu of title. I found the staff at the office (JRO in Poulsbo) very helpful when I did this. Sorry to say I don't recall what it costs. As with all older vehicles, arm yourself with a NADA or KBB print out so they don't charge some outrageous sales tax based on museum piece values. I bought a basket case CB77 for $300 years ago and they wanted to use $4500 as the value. IIRC there is also some limit to how long you have to get the bike inspected and get the registered letter back to the licensing office.

You get a "provisional" title, but that's only an issue if the PO decides they want the bike back. Which of course is not likely if the registered letter was returned unopened. Otherwise the bike is registered, insurable, and you can sell it with a bill of sale over the next three years. The buyer would only have to wait out the remainder of the three year period to get the real title. One other important detail is that you must go in to a licensing office and apply for a real title after three years. The DOL does not automatically issue a title once the three years is up.

Edited by DocB on Jan 14th 2018 at 11:15 AM
Jan 14th 2018, 11:19 AM   #5
 
  Jan 2016
  Oregon

  2017 Kaw Ninja 1000 ABS (Z1000SX)
Sounds like a real mess.

How many miles on this bike? Looks like it's been sitting for a while, when is the last time it was ridden? if there's rust in the tank and carbs are F'ed you're looking at a lot of time and big $$$ to get it running right. Pretty soon the Dealers will be swamped with everyone trying to get their bike in shape after the Winter layover...if they will even work on this thing!

I say, head down to your local dealer and pick up a new 2017 500cc bike at a deep discount so you can start riding this Spring!
Jan 14th 2018, 12:14 PM   #6
 Brassneck's Avatar
 
  Apr 2016
  Seattle, WA

  '79 XS650; '01 FZ1
I'm literally going through this right now. Not hard, but takes time. Pretty much what has been said is fairly accurate.

The biggest thing is to send a letter to the owner explaining the situation (via registered and return shipping receipt notice) in the mail. Include the Release of Interest form (local title agent can provide for you) as well as a self-addressed stamped envelope...might be worth it to include $20 for their time, as they will have to have it notarized, so may give them a reason to do it.

Either they will send the notarized release of interest back to you (Hope they do...makes it way easier), or they won't. If they don't... you'll get the receipt of delivery with their signature. After 15 days, you can then take the bike to the State Patrol and get them to check to VIN (You need a VIN Inspection Form...only available from the title agency) to give to the State Patrol.

Once you have the VIN Inspection, and mail receipt, you can apply for a title via the "Ownership in Doubt" process. You get to register the bike, ride it and YES you can sell it...with a 3 yr temp title. After that, you can apply for a real title. If the owner comes back in that time, you do lose the bike, so there is risk.

Good luck.
Jan 14th 2018, 06:00 PM   #7
 Cougar's Avatar
 
  Jan 2016
  Richland

  Yamaha FZ1, KTM Super Duke GT, Yamaha FJR, Yamaha XS650
Quote:
Originally Posted by motoman
Sounds like a real mess.

How many miles on this bike? Looks like it's been sitting for a while, when is the last time it was ridden? if there's rust in the tank and carbs are F'ed you're looking at a lot of time and big $$$ to get it running right. Pretty soon the Dealers will be swamped with everyone trying to get their bike in shape after the Winter layover...if they will even work on this thing!

I say, head down to your local dealer and pick up a new 2017 500cc bike at a deep discount so you can start riding this Spring!
Did you actually read the OP's post? You didn't address the issue at all. AT ALL!
Jan 14th 2018, 06:09 PM   #8
 ZXtasy's Avatar
 
  Jan 2016
  Moses Lake, WA

  2013 Kawasaki Concours C-14, 2005 ZX-10R Kawasaki (Nekkid), '99 Yamaha TW-200
Ethically? The deceased owner would be happy that someone would want to keep that sweet old Honda alive. The others ave nailed it with 3 year thing, but one other avenue in WA that has worked for me.

Having a rapport with a local towing yard, they 'impounded' the abandoned bike, 08 Ninja 650, and held it for 30 days. After that time, no claims and no bids in an auction and so for 200 bucks I got it with a clean , new title.

Bike looks like it has life in it, but at a cost.
Jan 14th 2018, 07:26 PM   #9
 
  Jan 2016
  Oregon

  2017 Kaw Ninja 1000 ABS (Z1000SX)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cougar
Did you actually read the OP's post? You didn't address the issue at all. AT ALL!
Well, that was actually my point, Mr. Cougar (assuming that you are a dude in spite of your handle...)

This is a 40 yr-old bike. Lots of people assume that free is good, but even WITH a valid title, we have no info on the condition of this bike. So it may require a significant amount of time and money to create a running motorcycle and then you are STILL stuck with a 40-yr old bike that doesn't run, stop, or handle all that well. I see lots of screaming deals out there on proven, running bikes with zero title problems, and I am only suggesting that it might be a good idea to check around first before taking on such an unknown project. I used to have a 1978 Suzuki GS550 with a charging problem that no one could even find until 15 yrs later, and it stranded me several times.

Any questions?
Jan 15th 2018, 07:05 AM   #10
 galenernest's Avatar
 
  Jan 2016
  Beijing

  Honda CBF190R
Quote:
Originally Posted by motoman
Sounds like a real mess.

How many miles on this bike? Looks like it's been sitting for a while, when is the last time it was ridden? if there's rust in the tank and carbs are F'ed you're looking at a lot of time and big $$$ to get it running right. Pretty soon the Dealers will be swamped with everyone trying to get their bike in shape after the Winter layover...if they will even work on this thing!

I say, head down to your local dealer and pick up a new 2017 500cc bike at a deep discount so you can start riding this Spring!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cougar
Did you actually read the OP's post? You didn't address the issue at all. AT ALL!
Quote:
Originally Posted by motoman
Well, that was actually my point, Mr. Cougar (assuming that you are a dude in spite of your handle...)

This is a 40 yr-old bike. Lots of people assume that free is good, but even WITH a valid title, we have no info on the condition of this bike. So it may require a significant amount of time and money to create a running motorcycle and then you are STILL stuck with a 40-yr old bike that doesn't run, stop, or handle all that well. I see lots of screaming deals out there on proven, running bikes with zero title problems, and I am only suggesting that it might be a good idea to check around first before taking on such an unknown project. I used to have a 1978 Suzuki GS550 with a charging problem that no one could even find until 15 yrs later, and it stranded me several times.

Any questions?
I'm actually more in motoman's camp here. Now that the original question has been asked an answered, we can pontificate on the broader situation.

On one hand, a (nearly) free bike could turn out okay. Perhaps this old dog provides a few seasons of fun and hands-on learning about the joys of motorcycle repair and maintenance, after which it will become a labor of love and take a quiet corner of the garage when the fledgling motorcyclist decides to upgrade to something modern. That's ideal.

Or, it could be a tough dog that never runs correctly (if at all), all the while nickel and diming our new motorcyclist for months when all he really wants to do is ride.

If we look at a five year plan of owning and maintaining and riding a motorcycle, the FREE 1977 CB550F is almost certainly going to be more costly than simply plunking down $2500 up front for a late model runner. The ol' Honda is going to need at least (AT LEAST) a $500 revival if it has no other mechanical faults. Tires, brake pads, new battery, new fluids, new chain and sprockets, other odds and ends. Yup, probably more than $500 just to get it road worthy IF it is already a "runner."

So.. there's that to think about.

Then... you need to decide if all the extra is worth it for a 40 year old machine with 40 year old technology. Maybe that's your thing...
Sep 16th 2018, 09:17 AM   #11
 Riki5156's Avatar
 
  Jun 2018
  LaCenter Washington

  83 Suzuki GS 1100E
Older post but this happened to me. Bought a37 Desoto from the nephew of his dead uncle and got a BOS. Registered letter went unanswered. Started the 3 year “title in doubt” process and guess what? 2years and 9 months later,the nephew and the supposedly dead uncle showed up at my house with the original title and a State Patrolman to get the car back. I was just ready to start a complete restomod on it. Stater sez sorry but the BOS is worthless, it belongs to the uncle and the nephew was a minor so the BOS was no good. AND the stater sez I could be arrested for fraud,taking monetary advantage of a minor. Luckily I didn’t have any money in the car. Could have gone bad had I restored the car by then. Never again,bike or car. If the title isn’t clear I walk.
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