North Carolina Title Process for M37 or Other Vehicles Not Having a Title

When I purchased my 1953 M37 from the farmer in Alabama, he was not able to provide me with a title to the truck.  He was able to give me a bill of sale and the bill of sale from the person and a tag receipt from the person that he had purchased the truck from.  It turned out that Alabama did not title older vehicles.  The state I live in, North Carolina, requires that all vehicles have a title.  The normal plan in North Carolina is to have the current owner fill out the section on the back of their title stating that they sold you the vehicle, then you go over to the title/tag agency and apply for a new title and tags.  If you are purchasing a vehicle from a non title state (as I was), then you have to show that you purchased a vehicle that was legally owned by the seller.  In this case, I was told that a bill of sale from the owner and three consecutive years of his tax receipts (tag renewals) would suffice.   Unfortunately, since he only was able to show that the person he purchased the truck from had paid a tag fee one year (all that was needed for the Alabama tags on the truck), I had to title my truck by bond...

The process for obtaining a title by bond:

The first thing that you have to do is to collect all of your proof of ownership and write a notarized letter "to whom it may concern" explaining why the person you purchased the vehicle had no title to reassign to you and how you can prove that they legally owned the vehicle and legally sold it to you.

The second thing that you do is contact a bonding company and obtain the forms used to request a bond in case anyone shows up with proof that they actually own the vehicle, not the person you purchased from.

Third, you call the Division of Motor Vehicles and obtain their valuation on your vehicle (in the case of my 1953 M37, the value in the DMV computer was $500).

You then fill out the bond paperwork, pay the fee to the bonding company, and receive your bond. They will need to have a copy of your proof of ownership (your bill of sale) a completed bond application (signed in blue ink) for an amount 1.5 times the valuation of the vehicle ($1500 in my case). The company I dealt with has a minimum fee of $50 for a bond and had it in my hand in less than a week from when I sent them the application.

You then call your local DMV enforcement office and make an appointment to have your vehicle looked at. The enforcement officer will review all of your paperwork, verify the numbers on the truck (make sure that the vin on the frame and the tag on the glovebox have the same number) and assure themselves that the numbers have not been altered. He will also note on the inspection form if you have made any alterations such as engine swaps (such as a V8 or diesel in place of the original flathead) or replaced the odometer.   If you have changed the odometer, you need to have a tag engraved or stamped (can not be fill out with pen or an adhesive sticker, or applied with screws) applied to the driver’s doorjamb. This tag will state that the odometer was replaced and the mileage of the original and replacement unit at the time of the swap. I stamped the entire text of mine with a letter/number set onto a thin sheet of aluminum and pop riveted it to the door with two rivets. My tag says "odometer replaced on 10-25-2001, original reading 12601, new reading 0.0"  If you drive the truck to the inspection location instead of getting them to visit you, make sure that the truck is roadworthy. In other words, if you would feel comfortable presenting it for a safety inspection, drive it; otherwise have them come to you. When all is done, he will give you a form stating what he has seen.

The DMV inspectors also looked very hard at the tag on the glovebox. They like to see that the screws holding the glovebox door have not been recently replaced since it looks like you might have swapped glovebox doors with someone to obtain a vin tag if the screws are bright and shinny. They also like to see that the tag with the vin is riveted on (and the original brass rivets look much better to them than new ones or pop rivets in my opinion…).  In general, the DMV enforcement officer is signing a statement that the vin numbers on the vehicle are the correct, original ones, and that they match your paperwork.

Lastly, you take your letter of explanation with attached proof of ownership, bond, title application, and DMV inspection form to your local tag and title place and get process the paperwork. Title your truck as a 19?? Dodge M37 ton pickup. They should ask if you need extra weight since you are supposed to pay a higher annual tag fee if the vehicle weight is over 4000 lbs.

 Note that the bond must have the exact same vin, model, and year of manufacture as all the rest of the paperwork. If you have any differences, you will not get a title, so proofread your application carefully.

You do not need to do this process if you have a Form 97 (federal "title") that has been filled out to you, or a Form 97 with a NC Motor Vehicle Dealer Reassignment of Title Form filled out to you (and a bill of sale from that dealer). You also do not need to title this way if you purchased from a resident of a non-title state and can show that they legally owned the vehicle and sold it to you. In this case, you need to show three consecutive years of tax payments by that owner (copies of their tag payments each year work well) and a notarized bill of sale conveying the vehicle from them to you.