Your Car's Title Has Been Revoked, Now What?

Florida Cracks Down Revoking Nearly 400 Titles

 by Michael Satterfield - 04/11/2022

So by now the story of the State of Florida revoking nearly 400 titles has made the rounds and now there are even more rumors swirling about what will happen to these contraband cars. Forums are abuzz with all kinds of theories of how to deal with these vehicles, from parting cars out, driving them to Canada or Mexico, and even just saying it's now a "race car" there is a lot of chatter from the peanut gallery, but what are the owners actually doing?

To find out I reached out to several alleged owners, most of which quickly denied owning a car on the list, followed by blocking me. Several owners have been working overtime to scrub their social media of all references to their blacklisted rides. But a few owners did respond to me and their reactions were mixed. What unfolded after many conversations was a picture of a multi-state web of driveway dealers and shops that were selling cars titled by Soho Imports in New York, New Jersey, and Texas, and that some cars had been sold a few times and been subsequently titled in multiple states over the years.

One owner of an S15 Silvia on the list, we will call him Jimmy, was the fourth owner of the car and had purchased it with a clean title from his home state, however, the first S15 still wouldn't be legal until 2024. Jimmy claimed he didn't know anything about the import laws and thought he was buying a legal car, it was hard to tell if he was telling me the truth, he's a young kid who just bought a car he found on Facebook marketplace. For now, says he will just keep the car parked in his garage to wait and see what will happen next. 

When you look back at stories like Operation Atlantic where the feds showed up and started crushing cars, waiting for that knock at the door would be unnerving. Along with the letter, another document was sent to owners of vehicles on the list, a Victim Questionaire and Affidavit which asks questions like when did they buy their vehicle and how was it advertised. So the investigation is likely ongoing and there may be more to come as this unfolds. 

Florida Cracks Down Revoking Nearly 400 Titles

Another owner who owns three cars on the list, we will call him Bobby, bought three cars that were all older than 25 years old at the time, and apparently one that was newer than 25 years old. Bobby bought these cars from a driveway/Instagram dealer who was well known for selling cars in the tri-state area. According to text message exchanges Bobby shared with me, the dealer from New York claims he was just the middle man delivering cars and that everyone knew that cars with Florida titles were likely illegal in some way or another. In another text message exchange allegedly between the New York dealer and Bobby, the dealer appears to admit that it was just a matter of time before the government cracked down. 

Bobby sent me over screen records of conversations going on for weeks around the purchase of the cars that were old enough to be imported legally. The message exchange shows the cars arriving in Miami, a discussion of paying for the titling service to get the car titled, including images of title documents, a conversation about shipping the car north, and general banter about how excited Bobby was to be purchasing one of his dream cars. 

Florida Cracks Down Revoking Nearly 400 Titles

The jovial exchange takes a sharp turn with Bobby messaged the dealer to say he had received letters from Florida about the revocation of all of his car titles that were purchased through the dealer. The dealer replies that Bobby needs to try to transfer the title from Florida to New York as soon as possible. 

The text exchange gets more heated, as Bobby is being contacted by someone he had sold a car to that had also received the letter. He texts the dealer who replies with "everyone knew the ricks" (I assume he means risk). Bobby goes on to ask why the cars he bought that were over 25 years old are having their titles revoked. Soon after the dealer stops replying. Bobby tells him he needs to take his cars back and refund the money if they were not imported illegally. This prompts a response from the dealer who says blames the entire issue on SoHo Imports and refers Bobby to his lawyer for any further questions. 

Bobby, now blocked on social media by the dealer who he purchased multiple cars from, is exploring his legal options and worried that the tens of thousands of dollars he has spent on his collection of JDM dream cars could all be lost. Bobby said, "I worked super hard to be able to buy these cars, I’m a regular dude. I don’t have money and stuff just to throw away." Right now Bobby, like many owners is nervously waiting to find out what their next step is, abandoned by the dealers who were so willing to take the money and sell them cars with dubious titles. 

Florida Cracks Down Revoking Nearly 400 Titles

I reached out to attorney Will Hedrick, who is known as the Defender of the Defenders, in his opinion all might not be lost for owners of cars that were imported when they would have been eligible under the 25-year rule. He said, "Each of them on their face met the threshold age requirement for exemption from Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) pursuant to 49 U.S.C. § 30112(b)(9) at the time of their individual sales as recorded by the State of Florida." Will is already in contact with some of the owners of these cars and is exploring the legal options to attempt to legalize these cars. 

Owners of cars that do not fall under the 25-year rule and are on the list, should still reach out to legal counsel before making any decisions, as according to the letter they "may" be able to keep their cars as property. 

This story is developing and will be updated as more comes out.