Colorado ReBuilders Title

Colorado ReBuilders Title

Finally did it!

I finally applied for a Colorado ReBuilder’s title for the built-up 1930 Ford Model A! I bought the chassis and body from one person, but the rest of the truck is made up from many different sources.

It was kind of a complicated and exhausting process, but I’ve got it figured out and, if you’re assembling a vehicle and ultimately want a title so you can drive it on the road, here’s how you do it.

Get your “State Of Colorado Rebuilders Title Checklist” – get it HERE. The vehicle can’t be roadworthy, and the Colorado rebuilders title will not allow you to drive it on public roads. The rebuilders title is a good first step in getting a final title for the vehicle, and it establishes ownership and initial registration with the state. This form will outline the following steps you MUST take to get a Colorado ReBuilders Title;

    1. You will need the vehicle inspected and a Certified VIN inspection form (DR 2704) filled out by the inspector. In Colorado Springs, that’s done by the State Patrol, and here’s the VIN inspection information from the State Patrol. You will need to make an appointment – do this online HERE. You’ll have to trailer your vehicle to this appointment, and you should have a bill of sale from whomever you bought the vehicle (or most of the parts) from. This inspection will cost you $50, payable with cash or credit card.
    2. Fill out a Statement Of Fact (DR 2444) formget it HERE. You are going to explain (1) why there is no title for the vehicle. (2) Reason bonding for ownership is required. (3) Vehicle make, year and VIN (if there’s one on the vehicle. If not, don’t worry. (4) From whim it was purchased, and amount. Have a basic, signed Bill Of Sale too. (5). State that there are no liens against the vehicle (that you know of). (6) State that the vehicle is NOT roadworthy. This is all pretty basic, and can be filled in by hand.
    3. Assigned VIN. The State will assign a VIN but not until you are applying for the final title.
    4. Purchase a surety bond. A bond will cover your monetary loss if someone makes a legitimate claim of ownership. There are many places to get a surety bond, but I got mine through my car insurance agent – State Farm. You will need to establish a value for the vehicle, and they do give you a few options to do this. (1) Price Guide Books. (2) Computerized valuation services – I used an online site, This was free and they really do a nice job showing the value in most any condition. (3) Licensed Colorado automotive dealer (5) Certified appraisal (this will cost you).
    5. After all the above steps are completed, take all your paperwork down to your local Colorado DMV office and apply for for your Rebuilders Title. One thing they don’t tell you anywhere – they need current photos of the front, back and both sides of the vehicle, printed out. I didn’t have these so I had to go home, shoot and print the photos, rush back and submit the paperwork. They charged me $3.50. Now you wait. Not exactly sure how long for the process to make it through the system. As I write this, I am about a week and a half out from DMV submission. When I do receive whatever they send me, I’ll update this post.

What did I do wrong? Here are a few mistakes  I made (hopefully) won’t repeat with any other vehicle.

  • Get the State Patrol VIN verification (form DR2704). Don’t get the VIN verification at your local Police Station. Wrong form!
  • Don’t Wait! When you get all the paperwork, get down to the DMV quickly and get it all submitted before you lose momentum. I didn’t wait.
  • The State Patrol told me I didn’t need a Surety Bond. The DMV thought I did. My advice: get the surety bond!
  • Have the four views photos in your possession when heading to the DMV. They’ll be impressed that you were prepared! Not really, but it’ll save you from making another trip!
  • You will probably wait about a month for your appointment with the State Patrol. My Inspection Officer emailed me and said that she couldn’t make the initial appointment – could I come in 2 weeks early? You bet! Of course, on  the early date it rained cats and dogs, but I got the job done, no worse for the wear.





1957 Thunderbird – The Search

1957 Thunderbird – The Search

Well, looks like I’ve done it again.

One more car added to the stable, one bucket list item crossed off the list.

Like many of us car nuts, I’ve always been in love with the 1955 – 1957 Ford Thunderbirds. Of course, I really like the “squarebirds” too (1958 – 1960 Thunderbirds) – but the ’55 – ’57 T-birds are in another class by themselves!

I even started a file to help push me along the path of acquiring one of these timeless beauties. That file is dated 1998 (it’s now July, 2018)! In 20 years of career, kids, family and all the other great parts of modern life, I had set aside the dream of a Thunderbird for me. Now, I figured, it’s my turn.

Excuses Not To Buy A Thunderbird

Fast forward to 2018. With both of my kids out of the house (my daughter is just about done with a PhD from Clemson and my son is a semester away from an electrical engineering degree from University of Texas, Dallas), it was time. I’m not getting any younger, and they’re not getting any cheaper to buy. And, a book I was reading ( “The One Thing” by Gary Keller), I came across a mention of a study that stated most people regret the things they DIDN’T do. That struck a cord with me, as I had been putting off the dream ‘Bird for years due to a variety of reasons (whining excuses);

  • Too expensive
  • Couldn’t find one in my area that I liked
  • Afraid of the level of restoration work needed for one I could afford

Make The Leap?

Realizing that procrastination was getting me nowhere, and my excuses for not making a leap were insane, I started looking for a 1955, a 1956 or a 1957 Thunderbird about 6 months ago. Truth be told, I might have been happy with a 1960 “Squarebird.” But, I figured as of recent, I would probably have to invest the same amount of time and energy restoring a lesser T-bird (if there is such an animal), so might as well shoot for the stars and get EXACTLY what I wanted.

I had some basic requirements, but year and condition were definitely fungible.

  • The Thunderbird had to have both tops. As I learned, there is a huge value loss when only one top is present – up to $6,000 each according to Hagerty. Many of the less expensive ‘Birds I saw were missing one or the other (usually the soft top). Yes, you can find them on eBay, but the supply is extremely limited and they just don’t come up for sale too often. Plus, if you’re buying in a far-away city, it’s not wise to purchase without a personal inspection.
  • It had to have power steering and power brakes. IMHO, these options are non-negotiable. Of course, you can add them to a car, but that can be very expensive. I saw only one such sale for a power steering set up on eBay for over $2,500. Again, the cars lacking these options were usually among the cheaper cars. Plus, who wants a pleasure car that you have to muscle around?
  • Automatic transmission was mandatory. Maybe I’m turning into a fuddy-duddy, but I didn’t want the complexity & inconvenience of a do-it-yourself shifter. Heck, I’m all for manual transmissions – I learned to drive in a 1961 VW Bug – but I didn’t want one here. Once again, the lower priced cars usually had manual transmissions. Note: if you do get a manual, try and get the overdrive. That is definitely a good thing.
  • I didn’t want a modified car. There are lots of early 2-seat Thunderbirds out there with different engines and transmissions. I wanted one that was as original as possible – no modern retrofits.

Searching, Searching

So, I started scouring and several of the online vintage car magazines. I set a budget purchase price, but realized that I might have go a little above that if I found one that I liked. I started looking in earnest in the Fall of 2017.

Several worthy candidates presented themselves over the months. Mostly some pretty scraggly examples that were missing at least one of my required pieces of equipment. Most were wildly (IMHO) overpriced. One was a 20 year-old barn find 1955 that needed a lot of work to be road-ready, and still priced at the top of my budget. Most were in Denver or thereabouts. So I just passed them by.

1955 Thunderbird – Should I?

One in particular caught my attention in May of 2018 – a red 1955 Thunderbird located in Casper, Wyoming. Casper is about 5 hours North of Colorado Springs, and I figured it would be a full day of driving to see it. I whined a little at that as well – 10 hours of driving time just to see a car! Waaa! It sounded great – rebuilt engine, good body & new interior. One problem – price was out of my price range.

But, I figured I should check it out. I contacted the owner, a retired couple, and we discussed the car. It sounded pretty nice.

Eventually, it was May – time for vacation! But, right before we left for 3 days at The Henry Ford Museum and a week at a Lake Cottage in Michigan, I saw a black 1957 Thunderbird that was located in Livingston, Montana. About 11 hours from Colorado Springs, it was at the tippy-top of my price range. Bot, it was a 1957 Tbird (the EXACT year I dreamed about) and ticked all the boxes for equipment & condition – both roofs, fender skirts, PS, PB and automatic, plus it was a D code car – meaning it had a 312 cu. in. engine with 245 hp!

And, even though the owner said it had been in storage for over 5 years, it looked complete and relatively un-molested. More on this later!

This was definitely a contender, but had 2 big strikes.

  1. It was in Montana – 11 hours away
  2. It was over my top budget price.
  3. It had some rust (more than I thought initially, but I’ll get into that in subsequent posts).

Next: The trip!

I wanted to include a link to a great blog by Chris at He really inspired me to purchase my Thunderbird, and with his many detailed how-to posts, has made me want to document my fixes and restoration on my glamorous “Bird as well. This is a MUST read for anyone owning or restoring any old car or truck, as it shows how dedication and hard work can overcome just about anything. Thanks Chris!

First Stop – Casper, WY

I thought it would be worthwhile to take a look at the ’55 T-bird in Casper. So we did.

The owners were very nice and gracious – he handed me the keys and said take her for a drive! So I did. It seemed to run ok and I really got a shock as my wife and I were trundling along, as the brake pedal went completely to the floor! Fortunately I was able to (vigorously) pump the pedal and got a little braking action, so no disasters this time.

I returned the car and really started to notice a lot of really amateur bodywork. I’m guessing a lot of poorly repaired rust and possible some accidents too.

Plus, this was a 1955. I really wanted a 1957, so we told the owners we were going to pass on this one and headed out to Montana.


On To Montana To See A 1957 Thunderbird

We made it to Montana mid-afternoon, and the Thunderbird was stored in a garage. We met the owner who was the daughter – her father bought the car 30 years ago and mainly drove it in parades and car shows in and around Oklahoma. The father had passed on about 5 years ago and she wanted to see the car gone.

I was able to do a complete look-around and we did get it started. I did notice that there was some rust on the body (mainly rockers and rear quarters) and that rust damage had been badly “repaired.” How badly I wasn’t going to learn for at least a few months! However, it looked like there was no accident damage and all necessary accessories were present and accounted for.

My initial judgement was that there was way too much rust repair on this car for my taste, so my wife and I decided to finish the trip and come home. On the way we discussed the car and, even though it had more potential work involved that I wanted to do, we ought to make her an offer anyway. Silly me – that made sense at the time so I called the owner

I was surprised – she accepted my middling lowball offer (should have offered less)! Next up – going to pick up my new Thunderbird!

Here’s me and my neighbor unloading the Thunderbird!

1967 Pontiac Tempest Custom

1967 Pontiac Tempest Custom

Let’s face it – everybody thinks “GTO” when you mention a 1967 Pontiac.

I’m restoring a 1967 Pontiac, but it’s not a GTO. It’s a much rarer Poncho – a  Tempest Custom 2-door hardtop.

Did you know that a 1967 Pontiac Tempest Custom 2-door hardtop is the rarest of all the 1967 Pontiac intermediate hardtops? It’s true, only 35,502 Tempest Custom hardtops were made, compared to 65,176 GTOs and 75,965 Lemans hardtops – body style 17.

What you’re looking at is a true survivor, and what the car looked like when I drove it home from Northern Colorado in the Fall of 2007 (minus some really ugly plastic K-mart hubcaps).

Striking as she was, sitting in a gravel parking lot with a for sale sign in her window, I couldn’t help but notice how complete and unmolested she was. A short phone call to the owner, and I was all over the car. The story gets even better under the hood –

  • the rebuilt 326 2-bbl Pontiac V8 she was born with (numbers-matching)
  • power steering
  • power disk brakes (wow)
  • Automatic (turbo 350, 3-speed)

A short test drive was all it took to convince me to bring this old girl home that very day. I couldn’t believe my luck when the owner accepted my personal check! One quick signature, the sound of ripping paper and I was off to home in Colorado Springs, CO.

1967 Pontiac Tempest Custom

Possibly THE sweetest front end Pontiac ever made?

While 2 quarts low on oil (due most likely to very leaky valve covers and which I refilled immediately), I did make the trip home to Colorado Springs – about 100 miles – without incident. I like to think I made the trip in style. With a leaky, rusted exhaust system blaring the sweet sound of an unmuffled Pontiac 326 roaring at 80 miles per hour, we made a great pair. When I got home, my wife was thrilled (yay!) and we parked in the garage that night.

1967 Pontiac Tempest Custom Rear View

The rear view – really awful dented bumper and misaligned trunk.


1967 Pontiac Tempest Custom Interior Dark Turquoise

It’s Dark Turquoise Metallic! I’m keeping it that way.


1967 Pontiac Tempest Custom Original 326 V8

The crowning glory – an original, numbers-matching rebuilt Pontiac 326 V8!

Even though the car looked fairly decent, I knew she hid some deep secrets. Other than the obvious bent rear bumper, there were some tell-tale signs the old girl had some rust.

The first bit of rust that caught my eye, even before I bought the car, was the rust below the tail lights.

rust out below tail lights


The original Cameo Ivory exterior had one poor quality repaint with a similar color. The poor body work under the paint was obvious and the clear coat was peeling off all over.

1967 Pontiac Tempest Custom top view

Can you see the peeling clear coat on the roof?

Numerous dents, dings and scratches all over the car (and a couple of places where big gobs of body putty were pulling away from the body) indicated that a fair amount of body work might be coming up.

I immediately set out to replace the front brakes as I noticed the calipers were dragging. You might ask – how did this little Tempest get disk brakes? That is a question I have as well. The installation looks to be factory-correct. A factory proportioning valve is installed in the right place and brake lines look unmodified. The two piston calipers were gone, replaced with generic GM single piston calipers.

I suppose it’s possible that someone along the way replaced the drums with a disk set-up. But it’s just as likely this car came from the factory with disk brakes. Maybe a reader with better information can enlighten us. Either way, the brakes work great and I am delighted to have them!

This is all I have for this installment. I will post more of the restoration saga that took place over the last five or so years. But I did end up with a spectacular car and there were many surprises, problems and moments of sheer terror as I worked my way through this car’s myriad problems.